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Hire the cart pushers

The most important person at Costco is the guy or gal who pushes all the shopping carts together.
Hire the cart pushers

The most important person at Costco is the guy or gal who pushes all the shopping carts together.

Imagine what Costco would be like if there were no cart pushers.

Within minutes on a busy day the parking lot would become a snarl of carts. Brawls would erupt. Customers would take to social media with angry invective. The management team would be taken to the woodshed. Commerce would grind to a halt. Costco would go out of business faster than you can say "Walmart".

Running a software shop is a lot like the Costco parking lot. When code becomes littered with cruft, todo's, style violations, leaking abstractions, or other annoyances, it becomes unusable. Dealing with these problems is what I call "pushing the carts together". If you don't impose order by pushing the carts together, the natural entropy of a system makes the code fall apart. Customers won't put up with it. You'll go out of business faster than you can say "MySpace".

The difference between tech shops and Costco is that cart pushing is a real job at Costco. At Costco somebody with a name and a face is responsible for keeping the parking lot clear. In most software shops, cart pushing is an afterthought, which is precisely why so much software is so dreadful and why re-writes are so common place.

If you're a tech manager, know which side of the bread is buttered. Who do you really need on your team? What types of behaviors should you reward? Do you need a 10X rockstar to design a fancy new framework? Or do you just need people to push the carts together every once in a while?


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