Zero-to-Hero ... in a day

2016-10-22 Management Culture

Yesterday I had a good day in the office!

Nitro (like a lot of other startups) is going through growing pains. In the last 2 years we have hired a lot of people (and have not been able to retain all of them). We have build a lot of systems, platforms, features and products (and some of it turned into technical debt faster than we wanted). We implemented processes and practices (and not all of them made us more productive or faster).

To survive this kind of growing pains you need a couple of ingredience. Two essential ones are: Grit and self-awareness.

The self-awareness helped us to see that better time-management is going to be pivotal for our success in 2017 (e.g. to drive/maintain/increase productivity). To experiment with this we just introduced Meeting Free Friday (MMF) for the entire company. This will put pressure on the remaining days and will help us to weed out meetings that do not add enough value to justify their existence.

And sometimes the self-awareness will help you to understand what’s broken and you will also be able to visualize how the better place looks like, but you have a mountain to climb. I am not talking about a hill. I am talking about a mountain. I am talking about a long, steep climb and when you get close to the summit the air gets thin. What you then need is … grit!

A year ago I had a pint with Matt Valdez (Director Systems Engineering) and we talk about improving the on-boarding experience and he shared with me the vision of “Zero-to-Hero in a day” (means that a new hire can get Nitro cloud up-and-running on the laptop in a day (on the first (or second) day) and the passion of the Systems Engineering team to make it happen.

The first version of “Zero-to-Hero in a day” was released 2 month ago and since then we have iterated on it. Yesterday I spend my MMF and tried it again and was able to set a new record. I started at noon and 3.5 hours and a couple of giga-bytes and one docker-compose later, I had Nitro Cloud up and running on my laptop. That felt good! Especially because I know that for that to happen, we had to dockerize our entire environment, had to move the entire stack (dev and prod) to AWS and had to introduce sidecar for service orchestration. A lot of work. That needed a lot of grit. But it paid off. We made it. Summit!

I am not saying that we cannot make our on-boarding better, but it is a hell lot better than a year ago!

Grit and self-awareness.

Now I am looking for the next mountain.