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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Phone


Posted in Agile, Developers

Tagged devops, culture

Posted 15 June 2015

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Before I jittered through the door on my first day at SilverStripe, that word brought to mind little more than a catchy jingle about having water on the knee (a whole bucket, see?). Much like the beloved family distraction, Operations at SilverStripe is all about keeping it steady. Which in and of itself is nothing particularly exceptional; the ultimate goal of any operational support team is to react quickly and effectively so that you don’t touch the sides (so to speak). What sets SilverStripe apart is both our Agile approach to support and our company-wide willingness to communicate.

Back to my first day. Only somewhere between 40 and 70% of the aforementioned jitters were nerves - the rest was pure excitement. Mostly because (after five or so rounds of interviews with Katie, Cj and other awesome Stripers) I had the feeling that SilverStripe was going to be the kind of tech company I had been daydreaming about between lectures only months before. So despite being told that “everyone was excited because now I’d be answering the phones”, I suspected that it was not to be the joy-eroding, cubicle-bound, soulless existence I’d come to expect from my infatuation with pop culture. Instead, I was introduced to the Kanban Board, a madcap team of all different types of genius, and a phone that rang maybe once in my first week. Mostly what I was introduced to was a torrent of knowledge that I could only hope I was a big enough sponge to absorb.

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I immediately found that everyone in the team (and for that matter, everyone in the company) was willing to take time to explain to me what they were doing, how I should go about a task or why I should definitely not do that thing I was thinking of doing. Most importantly though, they were equally as happy to listen. One of SilverStripe’s key values is Collaboration over Control, and nowhere is that more evident than in The Mighty Ops. As part of our increasing agility, we trialled daily standups, but they were rapidly dismissed as unnecessary for our team for two reasons. Firstly, the Kanban board made progress obvious to every team member. Secondly, without any manner of formal process, most requests are thoroughly verbally scrutinised by the whole team. This helps both to figure out the best approach to the solution, and to organise assistance where required, whether by taking charge of client-side communication, digging through logs, or just a fresh pair of eyes on something that’s Just Not Working™.

All this leads to the celebrated and certified ‘Best Team’ at SilverStripe; a team that tackles problems as a unit in which each member is a vital and trusted part. Now, if I could just take out a few more funny bones....

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