Revelry engineering blog header image lightbulb TWIL This Week I Learned. Chalkboard style

At Revelry, we believe in sharing and learning from one another (beliefs that are rooted in our Core Values). Among the many things we do to encourage internal knowledge exchange is to have a different team member present at each week’s Engineering Meeting. These presentations don’t have to be lengthy, formal, or complicated; in fact, many are brief, but also powerful in that they teach our Revelers something new, inspire conversation, and encourage collaboration.

In the spirit of sharing, we share our This Week I Learned presentations (aka RevTWILs”) here. We hope you find them helpful.

THIS WEEK: In a recent Engineering Team meeting, we discussed fire drills – not the kind you practiced at school as a kid, but our company-specific way of raising awareness of a problem or issue that needs immediate attention, and often beyond the project team. 

Why dedicate a meeting to fire drills? Because they’re rare, so it can be hard for software engineers – especially those new to their careers – to understand what they’re like and get practice participating in them. We wanted to talk about ways to bring more people into the process when there is a fire drill, and to share individual learnings from previous fire drills. 

Some reminders, thoughts and ideas on the subject that were shared:

  • At Revelry, fire drills are a way to “say something” when we “see something.” Anyone can call one by starting a thread in our #firedrill Slack channel.
  • It’s okay to call a fire drill for things that are not yet on fire; and, if you do initiate one, there’s no need to panic, we’ve done this before and we have a plan.
  • It can be helpful to get experience with fire drills without / before being the owner of one. We should all keep an eye on our #firedrill channel and join fire drill zooms / huddles to learn, help, and support our colleagues.
  • If you’re working on a fire drill, you should drop a Zoom link or start a Slack Huddle, so others can participate (even if they don’t have the answers).
  • With fire drills, post-mortems can be especially important; they’re opportunities to learn and improve over the long-term. 
  • Not every fire drill demands a post-mortem, but we need to make sure to do them when it makes sense; typically, post-mortems are at the discretion of the project team and/or dependent on how critical an “incident” was. At the very least, an incident recap should be shared with the entire engineering team.
  • Revelry’s Playbook includes a lot of good incident response information (processes, protocols, etc.). We each need to be reading and reviewing this information regularly. Yes, our engineering leaders know how to manage fire drills, but that doesn’t mean each and every member of our team shouldn’t be prepared to step in and drive if needed.

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