Inside Out

Notes on seeking wisdom and crafting software

By example

Never call yourself a philosopher, nor talk a great deal among the unlearned about theorems, but act conformably to them. … For sheep don’t throw up the grass to show the shepherds how much they have eaten; but, inwardly digesting their food, they outwardly produce wool and milk. Thus, therefore, do you likewise not show theorems to the unlearned, but the actions produced by them after they have been digested.

— by Epictetus in Chapter 46 of The Enchiridion

I’ve been reading a thing or two about devops. It was fascinating to see how most service providers tell their devops story. For example, VSTS has a beautiful article depicting their devops journey. And recently gitlab posted about their devops strategy.

The story almost always talks about a transformation. The initial state is how life looks without devops. Then it proceeds to outline a set of steps, along with the principles of devops. It zeroes-in on the benefits of the positive change and a vision in the conclusion. Extremely powerful.

There are several things to learn as we dissect the stories.

We started this post with a quote about examples. Story acts as an example of living what you preach. It brings in a ton of credibility into the product. It ties in the makers of the product and the readers (consumers) at the root with a set of principles. It helps build trust that the product does match the industry best practices and will continue to be built along same lines.

To the makers of the product, Story provides a big reason to dogfood and try the product in-house. The first iterations of any new feature happen within a development sprint. Your first customer is you, so there’s a very low bar to critique and good feedback! A feature would have lived it’s childhood with the makers itself, no doubt, it will be in great shape to embark adulthood with real customers.

Amongst the feedback the maker receives, there’re also the seeds of requirements. There are asks on how to make the product even better. Here the Story provides an avenue to discover what’s next. This changes the attitude. Collaboration within the organization becomes a key (not a burden as it used to be in the dark days of silo). I’ve seen this first hand at [vstest][], it’s probably a story for another day :)

Story is also a way to share best practices. For example, I recently learnt a few things about sharding from a data startup. It is an 101 level post, but good enough to incite an interest for further study.

Let’s keep telling stories. Sharing our learnings and practices. To an open and better world. Namaste!