Diving into Düsseldorf for SREcon EMEA

Posted: August 29, 20183 min read

SREcon EMEA is on now in Düsseldorf, Germany. If you’re attending, make sure to check out our talks.

Tom Spiegelman will share how he fosters mentorship at DigitalOcean, and Jaime Woo will talk about post-incident care. In addition, Emil Stolarsky co-chairs the lightning talks.

On Wednesday, August 29, from 4:00 PM-4:30 PM, Jaime Woo presents “Your System Has Recovered from an Incident, but Have Your Developers?” in Rheinlandsaal Ballroom A.

Mistakes are inevitable, and happen to the best of us. Our industry adopts a blame-free culture, but that doesn’t negate the sting that occurs when we’re at the heart of a mess-up.

Developers continually raise the bar on how to prevent errors, mitigate damage for ones that arise, and wring out as many learnings as possible after the damage is done. But much of this work is focused on the products, and not the people. And given the high-stakes in SRE, the range of how a mistake psychologically impacts people can run the gamut from minor to the near-traumatic.

Where are the game day exercises that simulate how to support a coworker who just caused 3 am pings and 20 hour work days? What resources should we share to help people understand the stages of emotions they’ll feel after a major incident?

The concept of psychological safety is well understood as a key predictor for high-performing teams, but what does that entail? Drawing from original research, and lessons from fields like sports, medicine, and even stand-up comedy, attendees will leave with a series of tangible actions and exercises to help restore team trust and rebuild a developer’s confidence.

On Wednesday, August 29, from 6:00 PM-7:00 PM, lightning talks, co-chaired by Emil Stolarsky, happen in Rheinlandsaal Ballroom A, with nine speakers sharing energetic presentations on a variety of SRE-related topics.

On Thursday, August 30, from 12:00 PM-12:30 PM, Tom Spiegelman presents “Building a Fellowship Program to Mentor and Grow Your SRE Team” in Rheinlandsaal Ballroom A.

Mentorship is invaluable at any point in your career. At DigitalOcean, we introduced an internal two-week fellowship program pairing any developer interested in learning more about what infrastructure did with a senior engineer. We followed the Tuckman 4-stages of group development of forming, storming, norming, and performing. We believe we create the best performing team when mentors and mentees go through the four stages together as a team. Two weeks may seem brief, but we were able to iterate quickly, and also it meant we could focus our energies on mentoring just one person at a time to limit straining the team’s bandwidth.

The benefits were manifold: our infrastructure team gained a better perspective of what other teams go through and work on a daily basis which helps us build better tools and workflows to support them. Not only did participants strengthen their skills, but some joined infrastructure, realizing it was right for them. And for those that didn’t join it was an excellent way to cross-pollinate ideas and build the infrastructure team’s relationships with other teams. In this talk, attendees will hear about the theory, lessons learned, and how to create their own fellowship program.

Also, in addition to being a bronze sponsor for SREcon EMEA, we’re proud sponsors of the Diversity Grant. Visibility and representation matter, and congratulations to all of the successful applicants. See everyone at the conference!


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