Dev Profile: Emergency Response Hero

Someone just noticed Production fell over. Ops is looking into the situation. Devs are looking into the situation. Dev Managers are hovering – the situation is tense. In terms of the Restaraunt Analogy – Someone sent the wrong dish to a customer, and the kitchen is trying to recover. Enter the Emergency Response Hero (EMH)! With one look at the problem – he asks a few questions – fly’s through recent commits, check configs, and quickly ascertains where the problem is. Without telling anyone – he jumps towards the fix – and lets everyone know, “Hey, I’ve got it. Here’s the problem. Here’s a fix!” The fix goes out and all is well with the world. Until the next emergency. Everyone lauds the hero with accolades! …and the person responsible for the initial issue hangs their head in shame.

In the real world – as opposed to the world inside a development shop – Emergency response heros save lives every day. Natural disasters and accidents are common. We live in a chaotic universe. We need and appreciate our Emergency personnel for good reason. But what about a controlled environment? It’s a great thing to have someone capable to recover quickly from an issue at hand. However, there comes a point where relying on emergency personnel all the time is a problem.

Do you have someone in your team that wear’s a fireman’s hat (or equivalent) to work?
Do you have someone unable to complete and planned work as they are always saving the day?
Do you know a dev that gets more accolades then anyone else – but not for innovation but rather fixing things?
If you answered yes to any of these, you might be working with an EMH.

Working with an EMH can be rewarding for a dev manager. But, at the same time, they can demoralize the crew. Some will respect his accomplishments. Others will be ambivalent – and others, hard workers that don’t get accolades, will be jealous. When people become jealous, they become demoralized. Then productivity falters. But how to avoid this? Personally, I recommend better Automated Testing. A highly visible EMH is a strong indicator that Automation is not doing its job. Try to get ahead of this curve before it is too late. EMH’s get burned out too.


Published by

Kyle Wiering

I am Christian, a Software Engineer, and a Yooper living in Austin, TX - U.S.

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