Sun 13 June 2021
This past week was my first week at elastic.co, where I am now a Director of Engineering - taking on the SRE group and making Elastic Cloud go (Elastic Cloud is essentially the SaaS version of Elastic Search - i.e. you can of course run it yourself, or you can pay us, because tl;dr money is cheaper than opportunity/time and also we'll likely do a better job).
Although I'm 3 days in, it's popped up a bunch of really interesting oportunities and problems -- some I'm /very/ familar with as someone who tells nerds what to do, some are completely not. This is actually exactly what I was looking for. A set of areas where I can both bring the expertise I have, and also be stretched (with a side of being closer to the newer parts of the industry, and being somewhere where remote work is taken seriously).
Of course, this has the side-effect of me being absolutely wrecked at the end of each day, and having to keep tabs on my time and not overdo it after 5 weeks off (the above is a good forcing function: Marble tha cat came and sat on me on my first evening, and it was No More Work time).
There's a mountain of research out there on how to get started at a new enterprise. I tend to consume this stuff and run it through a filter of there being really no subsititute for a bit of cop on. Aside from being only partially successful in general, 'management by numbers' is one of those things that people spot right away, if they're in any way smart (and hopefully they are!).
I'd recently been recommended The First 90 Days, which like most management books have a bunch of decent general-purpose pieces of advice, but are for the most part not to be taken literally. In this case, the book kinda assumes you can sit on your hole for a few weeks to plan, and avoid commitment for your first wee while.
In reality, given how business works these days, there are always going to be things that don't wait. In my case, it was probably the first-day war room for the fastly outage -- yes, I could have ignored it because it's my first day; however, there is a huge amount to learn from observing your new practice's workflows and dynamics, unfettered by them knowing who you are, and how you are :-)
So, as I've said to folks internally, the 90 days plan is of course still a thing -- however, in the meantime I'm practicing what I'm calling "Listening and having standards". That is, the active listening and onboarding you'd expect from any new lead, but with a side of asking awkward questions, and setting a standard for rigour that folks will come to know. Part of being an active global lead is having people know your mind, without needing to hear from you directly -- I don't think it's ever too early to set out your stall, even if it's asking the kind of questions to which the answer either matters to you, or where finding the answer is a useful exercise in and of itself.