I have to admit I was late to the world of DevOps. Having been in startups for several years, the idea of shipping code fast was simply how things got done. There were no approval processes, fixed deployment schedules, or hundreds of steps to release code. As soon as code was checked in, it was ready to deploy, usually without any human intervention at all.

Then I got to experience how big companies get things done. During my time at Stack Overflow, I would meet with many leaders of engineering organizations in larger enterprises. It was an eye opening experience…


My first project in the tech industry was to create a sales system. It did not seem complex at first. It was a bunch of tables that had customers, companies, deals, and activities. The idea was to help the reps keep track of their deals and customer activities more efficiently. Basically it was a CRM or customer relationship management system.

As someone with little real world experience building apps, I thought how hard could it be? I started talking to the sales reps and they wanted everything and have it all be automated. They imagined the software could read their…


I remember the day clearly. It was a huge demo, the biggest I had ever participated in. This one was bigger though since I was the one leading the charge. The deal rested solely on this one demo, this one moment, going exceedingly well. My only thought the minute before it was our turn to present was, “Don’t screw this up!”

Three weeks back, I got word that the lead for this demo had gotten terribly sick and was going to be out indefinitely. We had precise specifications to follow as outlined by the consultants helping this enterprise with a…


Founder stories are a fascinating study in persistence. I was watching The Founder the other day, a biopic about Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame, reminded me of this truth. You see, the story of McDonald’s is not about one, but two distinct founder stories.

Though Ray Kroc is the person most associated with the founding of McDonald’s, he was not the founder. The founders were Richard and Maurice McDonald, two brothers who had left New Hampshire to seek entrepreneurial glory in California. …


How much pizza can you eat? On a normal outing, I eat two slices. If I am feeling hungry, I might go for three. When I was on the wrestling team in high school, I could polish off an entire large pie myself after making weight. I do not recommend that.


One of the most jarring and lasting memories of my youth happened on a cold January morning in 1986. I was in science class and our teacher had brought in a TV for the class to watch the space shuttle Challenger launch. My teacher had a particularly close connection to this launch because he had been one of the finalists for the Teacher in Space Project, which would send a civilian educator into space.

Just 73 seconds into the flight, the shuttle exploded, killing all seven crew members. The focus of the investigation quickly pointed to a failure of the…


I wonder sometimes where the time goes. It was the third week of May and I was heads down on arranging some startup talks, when someone casually said on a call, “Congrats on your anniversary!”

I was confused. What anniversary? Did he mean me? Then it dawned on me, he was referring to my Amazonian anniversary. The day before had marked one year when I started at AWS!

I never expected that I would work in a massive company again. I loved the startup life. …


What was the hardest, most excruciating decision you ever had to make? How did it test you and how were you changed? The greatest stories, the ones that survive the ages, most often come from the tough decisions people made and how they reacted to the consequences of those decisions. One story that comes to mind is a play called The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

At first glance, it is a book about the Salem Witch Trails in the late 1600’s of colonial America. This was a period of time when the religious fervor of the Puritans boiled over into…


“I don’t think I can keep going.”

It came out of nowhere, so I just stayed silent.

“I mean I love coding. I love what we are building. I just don’t love my job.”

I first met Chris at an early mentorship session of the accelerator her startup attended. We were paired up based on similar industry experiences and found we had an instant rapport. Since meeting several months back, we got into a regular cadence of chatting every two weeks for advice and brainstorming.

Chris was the pragmatic, down to earth type. Never prone to exaggeration or overly expressive…


There was a customer engineer named Tom that I knew that was remarkable in two ways. First, he was always coming up with the most odd-ball consumer product ideas that he was convinced would be the next big thing. Second, his job was to reach out to customers and gather their requirements for the engineers. Problem was that he was not very good with customers.

Being in a big, slow-moving company, his poor job fit was often overlooked. That is until the “Bob’s” arrived to clean things up. As Bob grilled Tom on what he did exactly, Tom got flustered…

DEV.BIZ.OPS

Thoughts on developers, digital transformation, enterprise agility, community building & software engineering culture. Author 👉 https://twitter.com/marksbirch

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