“Yes, and…”: Engineering Improvisation

My transition from  Manager of IAM Operations to Manager of WAM Engineering has been extremely enlightening in a lot of ways. Moving away from the daily operational challenges has allowed me to have a much more level headed view of what was going well and what was not going so well. Seeing how new management handles challenges has shown me that initial goals impact long range behavior in a lot of very complex and interesting ways which I will likely detail in  a later post.


But what I have seen most clearly is that in OPS your default setting is always no, more likely NO! In Ops, you are trained to be pessimistic, conditioned to be cautious, and almost militantly detailed in the area of things that can go wrong. Even as the organization transitioned to DEVOPS this remained true–I often saw my role as the “guy who says no” even when I was closing more change records then anyone else on the team. I was always very focused on making sure that I did not ever impact running production systems.

Engineering does not require this almost paranoid thinking. In Engineering we move at a much slower rate. In Engineering we are free to explore less then optimal solutions to see if there is hidden value. I as continue to redefine the space after DEVOPS in which the user is the System Engineer–allocating resources as they see fit, designing capacity, assigning risk scores, and managing their own ecosystem–I am really starting to see where the simple DM Tip of “Yes, and” really comes in handy.


All DM’s are trained to avoid the “yeah, but”, the “no”, the “your character does not work that way” for the sake of cooperative story telling. For improvisation.


Engineering allows for a level of Engineering which Operations does not tolerate.

One of the things I hear is people saying “I get what you are saying…” this is a very strong “yes, and” way of moving design discussions foreword which I will continue to work on daily as this new field continues to reveal itself to me.


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