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Giving everyone pager duty can lead to higher quality solutions. The band-aid fixes crop up when ownership of a whole system eventually spreads too thinly.

Within the right framework, keeping everyone on pager rotation can lead to much smoother operations, because everyone stays familiar with the system as a whole. This was going around recently, and captures the essence of the philosophy: http://catenary.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/naurs-programming-a...




In my experience, it also leads to better solutions because devs who don't get woken by issues with their own code are people who don't particularly care about such faults. I've done on-call before where I've begged the devs to fix issues because they were waking me up needlessly. The devs were nice, but somewhat lazy, and my fix wasn't on their radar. Stick them on on-call, and all of a sudden it's more important to fix.

At one place I worked we had a two-person support shop. We would claim time and again that this or that affected customers or made support hard. The devs would pick and choose what was fun to work on. I ended up leaving and the other guy went on a prearranged month-long vacation. Everyone else had to pick up support (~5 devs) for a month, and I'm told that they had so much trouble with the normal support load that development actually stopped for that month. Apparently when the other guy got back, they started listening a bit more to his concerns, having had a taste of what happens on the pointy end.

In a similar vein, there's a wine distributor where all employees spend their first week half on the phones and half in the packing department, to give everyone a feel of what the core function is and what customers complain about. The guy telling me said that everyone gets the treatment, except the new CEO, who got away with only doing a day rather than a whole week.

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