How Can You Make Developers Care About the End-User?

Cover of Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard

I’m in the middle of reading Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard (highly recommend) is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s a really great read about behavior change. A key piece to behavior change as Chip and Dan describe is addressing the two parts of our brain, the Elephant and Rider.

Think of the Elephant as the emotional part of our brain. It’s often look for the quick payoff. The Elephant is impulsive. It’s the part of our brain that rationalizes hitting the snooze button or binge eating ice cream at night.

The Rider is the rationale side of the brain. It’s capable of looking at the pros and cons and sacrificing short-term gratification for long-term gain. The Rider excels at planning beyond the moment. Where as the Elephant is impulsive, the Rider is deliberate.

Compared to our impulsive Elephant, the Rider is relatively small. That’s the problem. In a pinch, when we’re exhausted and driving home from work after a long day, the Elephant can easily overpower the Rider forcing us to drive right past the gym and into the drive-thru at McDonald’s.

What in the world does this have to do with developers and end-users?

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How All Hands Support Works at Automattic

A photo of 400+ Automatticians at our last Grand Meetup. Most of these individuals work in all hands support at least once a year.

We now have close to 300 non-support employees at Automattic. Yet, each year most one of them (even Matt, our CEO) helps out in support. It’s a practice commonly known as “All Hands Support” (also referred to as Support Weeks at Automattic).

I’ve been helping to wrangle Support Weeks at Automattic for a bit over two years now. As our company continues to grow, it can certainly get a bit complicated at times, but we think it provides great value to the company. Here’s a bit more about why we believe Support Weeks are important and how we go about implementing them across a 400+ person company.

Full disclosure, this is the process in place at the moment, but it’s bound to change and evolve as time goes on. Also, if you find yourself reading this and wanting to know more, join the Support Driven Slack group and ping me (@duvall).

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