Courtney Eckhardt, Heroku
"Organizations which design systems ... are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations” --Melvin Conway, in 1968
“How should we handle operations?” is one of the major issues in our industry right now. We’ve mostly agreed that consigning people to ops roles with no chance to develop more skills is bad, but the range of responses to this is wide and confusing. The proliferation of terms like DevOps, NoOps, and SRE are frustrating when we try to tell a potential employer what we can do or even when we just try to talk shop together. What we’ve done before isn’t working well, but what can we do instead, and how do we even talk about it?
Heroku uses a Total Ownership model to address operational work. I’ll talk about what this means in practice (with examples), the benefits (clear relevance of your work, good feedback cycles, abolishing class hierarchies), the failure modes (pager fatigue, decentralization), and how we can make all jobs in our engineering organizations more humane and rewarding.
Courtney comes from a background in customer support and internet anti-abuse policy. She combines this human-focused experience with the principle of Conway’s Law and the work of Kathy Sierra and Don Norman into a wide-reaching and humane concept of operational reliability.
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