When humans are faced with a traumatic experience, our brains kick in with survival mechanisms. These mechanisms are the familiar fight or flight response, but can also include the freeze response - which occurs when we are terrified or feel that there is no chance of escape.
Sufferers of post-traumatic stress continue to feel these fight, flight, and freeze responses long after the trauma has passed, because our brains are unable to differentiate between the memory of trauma and an actually occurring event. When activated or triggered, the brain reverts to these behaviors, which are then expressed in the person’s body (through posture, disassociation, muscle tension, etc).
The same can occur to organizations - once an organization has experienced a trauma (a large outage, say) the “memory” of that trauma leads to a deregulated state whenever activated (by symptoms of similar indicators, such as system alerts, customer issues, and more). The organization will insist on revisiting the same fight, flight, or freeze response as the embedded trauma has caused, which, like a triggered post-traumatic stress sufferer, is a false equivalency.
Matty Stratton is a DevOps Advocate at PagerDuty, where he helps dev and ops teams advance the practice of their craft and become more operationally mature. He collaborates with PagerDuty customers...