Being a Pivot.

March 11, 2013 Rasheed Abdul-Aziz

I get up in the morning, do the usual ablutions, kiss my wife and daughter, who are often still in bed, and drag myself through the crowded subway system of New York to Pivotal Labs’ offices.

I’m usually early, so the people in before me are those that make the journey from “Noo Joisey”, bless their hearts. I’ll sit and talk, or I’ll open my MBP and work on personal stuff, like blogging.

Breakfast is made by one of our lovely kitchen staff. Im a fan of the eggs and sausages, but there’s also fresh fruit, oatmeal, cake, pancakes… All sorts of things.

At five past nine, a gong sounds and we all gather quickly for a company stand up. Any newsworthy discoveries are raised, any questions that need answering are asked, all the events are listed. We clap in unison and disperse. Many of us huddle around the espresso machine getting another jolt into us before our team standups.

This is a pretty relaxed way to start the day.

The rest of the day is spent pairing with other developers, 100%, and the support this gives you is tremendous. I know a few people who dont like it, but even they see the value in it. The rest of us love it, and often find it frustrating when we’re forced to solo.

We (the pair) look at the most important story the product manager has identified, and we discuss how to best implement it. We go to the product team, who are all nearby, with any questions we might have.

We implement our code with diligence. Diligent about quality, diligent about design, diligent not to overwork the solution (lest we don’t end up needing the code). Some pairs are great at forcing you to stay true to the red-green-refactor, outside-in philosophy. Others are strong on ‘YAGNI’. Everyone brings something to the table, and everyone can trust that their colleagues are providing value.

Its rare to think “I will _so_ need to check his code” or “What fool did this thing?!”. If you ask someone about their implementation choices, they can give you good solid reasoning for them.

Working in pairs is intense. A suitable term is ‘compression’ – we stop and play a game of ping-pong or just take 5 minutes out to ‘decompress’. It’s exhausting but liberating. Typically, the only thing that you spend your energy on is creating good product. You dont often waste energy on “he said, she said” or worrying out about pointless feature development and unrealistic deadlines.

Edit: Forgot to mention, I don’t get asked to do overtime, and I get to see my family at a reasonable time every night.

Honestly, if you need a break from the insanity. Come and work for Pivotal.

About the Author


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