Heroes and Housekeeping

February 20, 2020

I came across an interesting article over at the Doist blog. It seems their front-end team highly values Deep Work, but was having trouble balancing this with production support demands that would arise. They arrived at a solution that looks a lot like my One-Hand Approach to Production Support where each month, a “hero” is set aside from the team to focus on handling urgent issues. Here’s a bit from the article:

Each month one person on each product team becomes the “Hero”. Their main responsibilities are to communicate with the support team, triage bugs, file them in our bug tracker, and fix the most urgent ones. On top of those tasks, the Hero takes care of smaller platform parity improvements, to ensure that our various apps don’t diverge too much, as well as refactorings, to improve the general health of our code base.

That’s a lot of work for one person. It’s a very reactive, communication-heavy role that can get stressful, particularly after a new feature is released. That’s why we rotate the role on a monthly basis.

While in my experience one week was plenty of time playing the hero, the general purpose of the role is similar to what I have seen work. One person is sacrificed to deal with distractions for a time in order to protect the productivity of the rest of the team.