FEATURED STORY

Be a squeaky wheel, but always bring oil

Camille Fournier on becoming a “multiplier” — and why multipliers are more effective than managers.

There are times when we all wish we could clone ourselves so we could get more done at work. In a Velocity New York 2014 keynote, Camille Fournier, CTO at Rent the Runway, presented an alternative, practical solution, that she argued is far more effective (not to mention feasible): become a “multiplier” rather than a manager.

Technical skills are important, she said, but they’re not ultimately the bottlenecks you experience later in your career — eventually, time and focus become the main hurdles. To overcome these hurdles, Fournier argued that you need to take a step beyond managing and focusing on creating additive value, and focus on multiplying your value by increasing the effectiveness of the people working around you.

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It’s time for a “commitment escalation”

Mikey Dickerson on why he moved from Google to the West Wing, and where we need to be allocating our engineering resources.

In a keynote address at Velocity New York 2014, Mikey Dickerson described his journey from working for Google to working in the West Wing of the White House, leading the US Digital Services group. He told the story of how a three-day review turned into a nine-week “herculean effort” by a team working 17 hours per day, 7 days per week to get HealthCare.gov up and running. The challenges, he stressed, boiled down to a few big, though basic, things — building a monitoring system, creating a war room to provide development direction and organization, and establishing a sense of urgency to get the problems fixed. “This very formidable obstacle, when you pushed on it even a little bit, fell apart; it was made out of sand,” he said. “Nothing we did was that hard; it was labor intensive, but it was not hard.”

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Prepare for change now, and you’ll be ready for it later

Max Firtman on the future of mobile and the importance of embracing change.

Companies and developers have plenty of mobile development challenges — OS platforms, the growing number of devices and screen sizes, and the myriad requirements of browsers, to name a few. Soon — or already — the Internet of Things is going to muddy the waters further. In a recent interview, Max Firtman, founder of ITMaster, stressed the importance of the growing ubiquitousness of IoT and the necessity that companies embrace the future:

”Maybe in 10 years, we’re going to see devices everywhere sending input information to apps that might be in the server, in the cloud — and those apps will carry some kind of intelligence, and will bring us back information on other devices that could be a smart watch, smart glass, a phone; we don’t know, yet, exactly what will be here. But there are a lot of challenges there for content owners or companies because you need to understand that you’re going to be everywhere.

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DevOps in the enterprise

Follow Nordstrom's journey to continuous delivery and a DevOps culture.

DevOps in Practice CoverWould you open an email with a subject line of DevOps and pants? I’m not sure I would.

Six months ago I sent Rob Cummings an email with exactly that subject and he did. And we can be thankful he opened it, because by doing so, he invited us to look back at the fascinating history of Nordstrom’s implementation of continuous delivery and a “DevOps culture.”

The story begins in 2004, in a different era of web operations and performance. Back then, Rob and his team drove out to the colocation facility to deploy the e-commerce site. It was an era in which everything was a bit more heavyweight and things moved a bit slower. But that was OK, because most companies were still figuring the web out, almost as much as users were trying to figure it out.

Then the world started changing. Customer expectations changed. The business’ expectations changed. Heck, even developer expectations changed. As a leader in Nordstrom’s operations department, Rob had to adapt. And all of this was complicated by the fact that the increased pace was starting to strain his team and the systems he was responsible for maintaining. Read more…

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Working like a startup at IBM

How a small and passionate team used modern techniques to shift a business on a short timeline.

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Over the past year, I assisted in creating an application that helped shift a major part of IBM to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. I did this with the help of a small but excellent development team that was inspired by the culture and practices of web startups. To be clear, it wasn’t easy – changing how we worked led to frequent friction and conflict – but in the end it worked, and we made a difference.

In mid-2013, the IBM Service Management business and engineering leaders decided to make a big bet on moving our software to the cloud. Traditionally we have sold “on premises” software products. These are software products that a customer buys, downloads, and installs on their own equipment, in their own data centers and facilities. Although we love the on-premises business, we realized that cloud delivery of software is also a great option, and as our customers evolved to a hybrid on-premises / cloud future, we needed to be there to help them.

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Postmortems, sans finger-pointing: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

In this episode, John Allspaw talks in-depth about blameless postmortems and creating a just culture.

Editor’s note: you can subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunes, SoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

When you’re dealing with complex systems, failure is going to happen; it’s a given. What we do after that failure, however, strongly influences whether or not that failure will happen again. The traditional response to failure is to seek out the person responsible and punish them accordingly — should they be fired? Retrained? Moved to a different position where they can’t cause such havoc again?

John Allspaw, SVP of technical operations at Etsy and co-chair of the O’Reilly Velocity Conference, argues that this “human error” approach is the equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face. He explains in a blog post that at Etsy, their approach it to “view mistakes, errors, slips, lapses, etc., with a perspective of learning.” To that end, Etsy practices “blameless postmortems” that focus more on the narrative of how something happened rather than who was behind it, and that remove punishment as an outcome of an investigation.

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