Twitter post from @uclajug inquiring about the yield of the Fire Chief role
It’s been some months since the inception of the Fire Chief role, and I’d like to share further information about how the Fire Chief has helped the Inventory Engineering team realize their maximum potential. The Fire Chief role has proven that where legacy systems cause distractions, removing a single person’s capacity from the team’s total can actual increase the team’s velocity: team members are more focused, and have fewer distractions.
Before the Fire Chief
As I joined the Inventory Team, I was amazed to learn that the daily stand-up was more than 50% focused on discussion about fires. Any net-new user stories included in our iterations saw the attention equivalent to a second class citizen. Fires: important. New, strategic, foundational engineering projects: unimportant.
The Inventory Engineering Team's languishing velocity prior to the Fire Chief
After the Fire Chief
I still remember the day when the Fire Chief hat arrived in a wrinkled brown envelope at the office. I must admit to being pretty excited as I sat down with the team to unveil our brand new, bright red, Fire Chief hat. For a brief second there, the perspective that legacy systems and fires make for less glamorous work melted away.
If I had to point to the coolest part of the Fire Chief role? Overhearing people around the office, “Have you seen the Fire Chief?”. It’s so true that our Fire Chief is incredibly popular. What else is cool? Our burndown…
The Inventory Engineering Team's improved velocity with the Fire Chief
It’s also worth noting, that in a team where legacy systems meant distracted engineers, and bred more legacy systems, the Fire Chief role has bred focus, a passionate (popular?) team, and excellence. I’m pretty confident when I describe the Inventory Engineering team as “high performing”. Our stand-up meetings (which the Fire Chief still attends) are focused around new projects, with approximately 1 minute of the 15 minute stand-up dedicated to the Fire Chief’s daily report.
Proof in the Pudding
Our strategic, foundational engineering project, “Inventory LIVE!” is currently being launched by the team. Inventory LIVE! is focused squarely the incredibly challenging problem of scale; 200 million domain objects in an Oracle Coherence data-grid, 90 JVMs, 12 Tomcats, and RESTful web-services, using FastInfoset and JAXB, streaming over HTTP.
I should mention that Inventory LIVE! is a net-new engineering project, owned solely by the Inventory Engineering team. I’m confident that such an undertaking would not have succeeded without our Fire Chief concept.