Rockstars, Builders, and Janitors: You're doing it wrong

Rockstars, Builders, and Janitors: You're doing it wrong

Velocity, 2016

You know these roles: the rock star, who is always rolling out a new demo or installing a new technology in your stack; the builder, who makes it reliable and makes it scale; the janitor, who cleans up all your messes, writes your docs, and tweaks your configs. Grow an engineering team to a certain size, and these roles reveal themselves and cement themselves into your processes.

You come to rely on these roles and the people who fill them. And that’s bad.

Yes, rock stars get the spotlight, while builders toil away in the background, and janitors are forgotten. But it’s not all about glory. Pigeonholing engineers hurts everyone and can slow down your engineering organization in the long run. If you’re only a rock star, you’ll never understand scale or user experience. If you’re only a builder, you’ll never learn to write clean configs or care about future use cases. If you’re only a janitor, you’ll never appreciate change or technical growth. You need to be all three to succeed.


Alice Goldfuss

June 23, 2016