Welcome to SNAFUcatchers

A consortium of industry leaders and researchers united in the common cause of understanding and coping with the immense levels of complexity involved in the operation of critical digital services.

November 14, 2017

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Where Complex Systems Fail

A while ago I wrote a telegraphic piece entitled How Complex Systems Fail that, although written primarily for medicos, resonated with the IT community.

Complex systems do fail, of course, and sometimes in surprising, uncomfortable, and even disturbing ways. Close contact with these failures is unsettling. It reminds us of how poorly calibrated we are about how systems really work -- in contrast with how we think they work.

People who operate, troubleshoot, repair, and re...

October 29, 2017

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Doctors David Woods and Richard Cook present the report of the Stella meeting and the first year of SNAFU Catchers work to the attendees of the Velocity Meeting in New York City. Watch a video of the presentation below.

October 20, 2017

John Allspaw is headed to the New York Pager Duty Summit to present key concepts from the SNAFU Catchers Consortium Stella Report.  Stop by to let him know your thoughts on the report.

June 6, 2017

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A recent posting by cscareerthrowaway567 is remarkable and worth reading. [Thanks to John Allspaw for pointing this out to me!] Like many such stories (and there are many) it captures three connected aspects of the modern conundrum.

Today was my first day on the job...[and]... [I] screwed up badly. I was basically given a document detailing how to setup my local development environment... [but]... those values were actually for the production database... [T]he tests add fake data, and clear exist...

March 18, 2017

The SNAFU Catchers Consortium met in Brooklyn this week for a fascinating 2 day (plus a bonus halfer thanks to Blizzard Stella rescheduling flights) meeting on coping with complexity in digital network systems.

Stay tuned for the full debrief report and what comes next!

February 28, 2017


It will no doubt be a moment replayed for years, the mistake seen by millions around the globe, as the wrong movie was awarded the best picture honors at the 2017 Oscars awards ceremony.

Pundits have yet to stop talking about who is t...

February 20, 2017

Private use of drones for wedding photography, leak detection or socially maladjusted purposes has created new challenges for regulating the safe use in society.  

An innovative Dutch company is working to solve the security problem of private drones in protected airspace with a low-tech solution that's been around for thousands of years - eagles.

Trained police eagles are being used to intercept drones by snatching them out of the air, effectively immobilizing them.  We are hoping phase 2 of...

February 19, 2017

If you aren't in the race to produce the world's first self-driving car you obviously have been distracted by other things.  Outside of launching rockets to re-supply the ISS, the drive to build autonomous vehicles to replace human drivers has been speeding up recently.

But what does it really mean to be 'autonomous'?  

While the Tesla system was cleared after a fatal incident the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had some clear warnings for automakers that included a recommendat...

September 30, 2016

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 Standing before more than 1,500 coders, web developers and technology managers, Dr. Cook and Dr. Woods introduce the SNAFUcatchers consortium and discuss mental models of complex systems. Click on the image to watch the video.

September 27, 2016

The SNAFUcatchers Consortium for Resilient Internet-Facing Business IT officially launches at Velocity NYC 2016

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