Incident response is a team sport

Once upon a time, whenever I was involved in responding to an incident, and a teammate ended up diagnosing the failure mode, I would kick myself afterwards. How come I couldn’t figure out what was wrong? Why hadn’t I thought to do what they had done?

However, after enough exposure to the cognitive systems engineering literature, something finally clicked in my mind. When a group of people respond to an incident, it’s never the responsibility of a single individual to remediate. It can’t be, because we each know our own corners of the system better than our teammates. Instead, it is the responsibility of the group of incident responders as a whole to resolve the incident.

The group of incident responders, that ad-hoc team that forms in the moment, is what’s referred to as a joint cognitive system. It’s the responsibility of the individual responders to coordinate effectively so that the cognitive system can solve the problem. Often that involves dynamically distributing the workload so that individuals can focus on specific tasks.

Resolving incidents is a team effort. Go team!

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