We ran into an interesting issue recently.  On the one hand, it was routine: we had a bug — a regression — and the

Engineering a culture

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2024-03-31 21:00:08

We ran into an interesting issue recently. On the one hand, it was routine: we had a bug — a regression — and the team quickly jumped on it, getting it root caused and fixed. But on the other, this particular issue was something of an Oxide object lesson, representative not just of the technologies but also of the culture we have built here. I wasn’t the only person who thought so, and two of my colleagues wrote terrific blog entries with their perspectives:

The initial work as described by Matt represents a creative solution to a thorny problem; if it’s clear in hindsight, it certainly wasn’t at the time! (In Matt’s evocative words: "One morning, I had a revelation.") I first learned of Matt’s work when he demonstrated it during our weekly Demo Friday, an hour-long unstructured session to demo our work for one another. Demo Friday is such an essential part of Oxide’s culture that it feels like we have always done it, but in fact it took us nearly two years into the company’s life to get there: over the spring and summer of 2021, our colleague Sean Klein had instituted regular demos for the area that he works on (the Oxide control plane), and others around the company — seeing the energy that came from it — asked if they, too, could start regular demos for their domain. But instead of doing it group by group, we instituted it company-wide starting in the fall of 2021: an unstructured hour once a week in which anyone can demo anything.

In the years since, we have had demos of all scopes and sizes. Importantly, no demo is too small — and we have often found that a demo that feels small to someone in the thick of work will feel extraordinary to someone outside of it. ("I have a small demo building on the work of a lot of other people" has been heard so frequently that it has become something of an inside joke.) Demo Friday is important because it gets to one of our most important drivers as technologists: the esteem of our peers. The thrill that you get from showing work to your colleagues is unparalleled — and their wonderment in return is uniquely inspiring. (Speaking personally, Matt’s demo addressed a problem that I had personally had many times over in working on Hubris — and I was one of the many w00ts in the chat, excited to see his creative solution!)

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