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Watch Russ Miles' JAX London 2017 session

No pain, no gain: Production hostility as the ultimate motivator

JAX Editorial Team
production hostility

What is learning but a necessary reaction to a particularly stressful situation or circumstance? Watch Russ Miles’ session at JAX London 2017 and learn how to turn production hostility into productivity advantage.

Production hates you. The machines, the networks, the very users you hope to provide a service hate you. This is a reality, and it makes production a hostile battleground. In this talk, Russ Miles talks about how to turn this pain to your advantage. Following on from his popular “Why don’t we learn?” talk it is the time for the sequel. Through a sequence of case studies, personal stories and code examples Russ talks about how sociotechnical systems like your development team improve through stress, turning this pain to their advantage through learning loops so that it is no longer about “how do we avoid the pain” but rather “how do we embrace it and thrive on more”.

What is learning but a necessary reaction to a particular stressful situation or circumstance? Making the pain of stresses unignorable means that we actually do learn and improve, otherwise, there can be a tendency to imagine that these painful circumstances (such as production dying, or change happening rapidly) are one-off events. What we do with this approach is we capture the stresses that require the most amenable learnings for the system, then we make those stresses happen so they are unignorable and so the learning actually happens.

Russ Miles 

We talked to Russ Miles about why production hates you, and how you can turn this pain into an advantage.

JAXenter: Pain is sometimes a learning tool (mostly so we learn to not do that again). You’re suggesting we embrace and thrive on it. What do you mean?

Russ Miles: Excellent question! Let me answer it this way. What is learning but a necessary reaction to a particular stressful situation or circumstance? Making the pain of stresses unignorable means that we actually do learn and improve, otherwise, there can be a tendency to imagine that these painful circumstances (such as production dying, or change happening rapidly) are one-off events. What we do with this approach is we capture the stresses that require the most amenable learnings for the system, then we make those stresses happen so they are unignorable and so the learning actually happens.

Stressors on software development systems are a worthwhile thing to capture, discuss and perhaps increase or decrease of some observable benefits.

It should also be stressed (pun intended) that not all stresses are often seen as specifically about pain. For example, the wild success of your software service means you need to deal with the stress of many more users being involved in the stress in production. The key thing is to just consider what stresses you and your software development system (including people, tools, processes, practices, environments … the whole system) should and could be caused to encourage beneficial reactions. The stresses are framed by the objectives and the learnings that are useful within those objectives, and everything needs to be subjected to measurable outcomes or you’re just hurting systems for no tangible good effect.

Full interview here.

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Russ Miles‘ experience covers almost every facet of software delivery having worked across many different domains including Financial Services, Publishing, Defence, Insurance and Search. Russ helps to change all facets of the software delivery process in order to remove unnecessary and costly complexity in everything from developer skills and practices, through applying the right processes for the job at hand, to ensuring that the right change is delivered, be it through software or otherwise.

Russ Miles is an international speaker on techniques for achieving the delivery of valuable software as well as a published author, most recently of “Head First Software Development” from O’Reilly Media. Also author of “Antifragile Software”, which is available on LeanPub.com.

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