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Posted on: Saturday, 26 June 2010 by Rajiv Popat

Hell has broken lose at Multiplitaxion Inc. The sky is falling. The shopping-cart of a production system seems to have developed a glitch in a live website and apparently, it seems like people cannot buy things from the website.

I know what to expect next.

Throng of emails start flowing in on the support system.

Then comes a few emails from the client, with a little bit of tough love, directed at all of us.

It looks like there is a minor configuration glitch in Jack's code which is causing this awkward moment for all of us.

I hear the soft whisper in my head. My first instinct, the hidden, sedated asshole within me, whispering in a gentle, seductive and powerful voice.

"Call up Jack! Ask the incompetent idiot to fix it ASAP. Tell him it's CRITICAL. Absolutely fu@#king critical."

And then the veteran who has been there, done that and knows that it not work in the long run takes over.

I smile inwardly and decide to wait, answering the emails to the best of my abilities and sitting down to fix my own share of bugs, reminding myself that I am just as incompetent and just as big an idiot as anyone else.

Jack has already received the email. Jack is a mature human being with brains to understand that when shopping carts go down, companies lose money. He is probably looking at the problem right now and trying his best to fix it as quickly as possible. If he does not respond in the next hour or so, I will causally check with him. I respond to the seductive voice in an equally commanding tone and shrug it aside.

A few minutes later, another email lands on my inbox. It's Jack. The issue is resolved. The cart is up and running again. Life is back to normal.

The next morning, Jack is at my cubical. He wants to apologize about the issue and all those emails everyone had to reply.

"Nah. Don't worry about it. Shit Happens." --- I respond with a smile.

That is it. End of discussion. We go grab a cup of hot chocolate, talk about latest phone that I have been drooling over and discuss my intent of buying it.

I am happy. My life as a 'manager', 'development lead' or whatever it is that you want to call me, is a happy one.

It was a zero-touch operation or me. I now have a self sustaining team that functions perfectly well without me and I would have never found that out if I would have intervened on that and many countless nights before that.

Yes, there have been a few accidents. A few bumps while the teams I worked with in the past were in the drivers seat and I was in the back-seat, looking out and admiring the view, but nothing bad enough to get us killed.

Here is the interesting part however.

Every time the sky starts falling you will have a temptation of taking the drivers seat. Ease out of it. Let your team drive.

Because if you let them drive, they might get into a couple of small accidents and maybe even a couple of big once, but then they will learn how to drive, really fast and really well.

And once that happens, you can just take the back seat and admire the view or just find bigger challenge for yourself.

You know, the "professional growth" crap they talk about in seminars. This is how it happens.

Try it.

It actually works.

I wish you good luck.