This week I started a formal process of removing myself from all the critical technical roles I once held at Own Web Now. These days I’m pretty much an “enterprise architect” around here which means I only help point people in the right direction and explain all the broken stuff and hackery that went on behind the scenes when we didn’t know any better. You know the deal “let’s just get it going, we’ll make it look nice later”; except later never comes.
So that’s the why.
Now for the How:
- I have a flat text file on my desktop called “Act of Vlad.txt”
- Every time someone asks me about a certain process/configuration/setting I document the question and the quick answer as I provide it.
- I rank each request in order of severity (the extent to which the process is broken multiplied by the likelyhood that this will come up again)
- Every time I have a spare hour to watch TV I pull the file up and look at the top case.
- I knock out the issue I picked in #4, one at a time.
When I fly I like to organize, sort and group these issues and try to find better ways of dealing with the legacy stuff in a better way. Some things are better merged to other systems, others have long ago been simplified by other stuff or outright removed from any sense of purpose and should be eliminated.
The only challenge in this process is to understand how you got here. I had to make some shortcuts to get to where I’m at, and a part of this process is to smooth things out now that I have a lot of resources. The key here is to focus on explaining how and why and resist the urge to just “fix” something because the reality is that there is far more broken stuff that is interconnected in very strange ways in all the ways the things were built in the first place, and you’re better off just educating your staff than fixing the problems you can see while leaving everyone else in the dark. This is in part why I bought the iPad – so I can focus on the braindump and mentoring, not to fix the problems I’ve caused in the first place.
For what it works, the “humble cake” doesn’t taste very well 🙁