Building an Effective Team When You Have No Idea What You're Doing

Due to the evolving Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation, SREcon20 Americas West has been rescheduled to June 2–4, 2020.
More information is available here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 4:00 pm4:35 pm

Peter Sahlstrom, Mailchimp; Chris Donnelly, CodeMettle


When Peter became an SRE manager, he had little management experience and no idea what SRE was. By pairing up with Chris, he was able to build a team with a reputation for quality results and for being an excellent place to work.

This isn't a talk about "best practices for a rockstar team". Rather, we'll be talking about the tools we utilized to figure out what next steps to take at any given time. We'll also offer resources that individual managers and technical leads can use to make their teams happy, comfortable, and more productive.

Come learn about how to better understand your team through modeling, mapping, and complexity theory. We'll teach you about the value chain, the Jevons paradox, and how you can apply utilization curves to prevent burnout. Finally, we'll help you learn to recognize when it's time to make a change – and how to implement it.

Peter Sahlstrom, Mailchimp

Peter Sahlstrom manages the Site Reliability Engineering team at Mailchimp, but has worked in the past as a Product Manager, a Software Developer, and a Semiconductor Fabrication Technician. He has a degree in Computer Engineering and an MBA and is currently pursuing a Masters in Analytics. He enjoys conversations about just about anything, but people often talk to him about organizational behavior, technical communication, personal finance, retirement planning, complexity theory, history, organization, contentment, negotiation, parenting, and Star Trek.

@conference {247324,
author = {Peter Sahlstrom and Chris Donnelly},
title = {Building an Effective Team When You Have No Idea What You{\textquoteright}re Doing},
year = {2020},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
month = mar,