Monday, November 3, 2008


Engineering motivators can be a bit difficult. After all, sometimes you want to motivate people to do things (refactor code, create new features, pair program, etc). Sometimes you want to motivate people to not do things (break the build, write lots of bugs, check in without running some code first, etc). In a team environment there's the fun twist of motivating individuals and the entire team.

Like many dev organizations, we motivate with recognition.... in the form of toys.

Build Status
For the build, we have an ambient orb:

I think this one is quite common. Red means the last build failed; green means the last build succeeded; purple means it's currently building. This one is all about the team: it sits in the middle of the room and glows on all of us. After all, we all have to get that build fixed.

Serious Breakage
The second one is for the person who breaks the build, breaks the lab, or otherwise seriously compromises development's ability to work:

(Ours is a little different, since one of the figures has no head. We did stick a slip of paper with a smiley face in the neck hole, though!)

This one sits on the culprit's desk, large and truly ugly. Invariably someone who doesn't work in dev will ask, "what is that?", and whoever has it gets the added joy of explaining why this figurine is on his desk.

Bug Hunter
Sometimes you find a real doozy of a bug that totally takes down your system. To that finder goes the Fubar:
(Yes, this is  a real tool - how awesome is Stanley Tools?)

This goes to the person who discovers the deep and subtle yet really nasty bug.  I should note that it's not always a QA Engineer who has this award; developers and support can also find major issues. And in pretty much every case, it's much better to have found it in dev than in the field!

Code Shearing
For the discerning developer, we have the code shearing award:

Yup, those would be the Bolt Cutters of Deletion. To get this one, you have to find a chunk of code that isn't being used (or shouldn't be used), refactor, and delete the junk. On a large multi-year code base like ours, knowing when to delete is worthy of recognition!

What awards do you have around the office?

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