There have been quite a few jobs in my life where my first day was complete chaos. Some were technical and some were not. I had a first day as a bartender (in more than one job) where someone was sick or the place was busy and I was left on my own to figure things out. Fortunately, I know my way around a keg and a bottle of liquor. I’ve also started at a couple tech jobs where we had a crisis in a system. I’ve been able to pitch in and help solve problems, or even get other work done on my own. In all these cases, the boss was impressed, and I often started out my tenure with quite a bit of credibility.
When we look to make changes, it can be hard to convince someone that the change is better for the organization. This might especially be true when working in software development and trying to convince someone to change their process or habit. I see this all the time as clients look to adopt DevOps, with no shortage of naysayers. There are always plenty of people that want to maintain the status quo.
I heard quote from a presentation by Comcast execs on DevOps: “never let a good crisis go to waste.” The quote has been attributed to others in history, but I think it’s an apt description of how to drive your processes forward when you know there are problems and issues and no one wants to spend time fixing them. Pain often allows an opening for a better solution to be considered.
Too often when there is no problem, no immediate pain, there is a lack of will from management to spend time improving things. Certainly there are some executives that believe in improvements, but far too many focus on adding something new rather than improving the underlying infrastructure of software development. When you see a problem, if you can’t make an improvement at the moment, keep an improvement or solution handy. You never know what a crisis might give you the opportunity to pitch a better way forward.