Fire Fighting

I use Firefox on all my computers, and was naturally intrigued to come across a LifeHacker interview with Mike Beltzner of Firefox.  But, of all the interesting things I was hoping to discover there, I truly did not expect a lesson in how business managers should really be scheduling their time…

I’d say that 50 percent of my day is communication. As director of Firefox, my job involves coordinating the activities of a cast of thousands contributing to the software we produce. I help people understand the most important thing they could be working on today… (With) Mozilla’s weekly planning calls, I’m helping at moderating them and making sure everyone understands where to expend their efforts to get most value.

Another 25 percent of my day is spent gathering feedback about the product, and from that, figuring out what’s important, and figuring where to go. It’s asking ourselves, what are the most important things to be (scheduling) out for next version, so maybe I’d say “future planning” is really that 25 percent of my day.

The other 25 percent could be considered management, the traditional kind. The Firefox management team makes sure developers don’t have to worry about expenses, and helping those having troubles getting access to certain systems. All that doesn’t even count the little extra things I do. I’m a software designer at heart, so I still spend some time working on designs with the user team.

The challenges of coordinating open-source software development aside, how many of us in corporate roles can boast of a schedule so aligned with the way things ought to be? 

On any given day, so many of us end up doing so much firefighting that we’d qualify to be firemen!  Compare that with 25% of your day’s time being spent on gathering feedback from the customers of your product, and another 50% focused on helping the team understand what’s really important!

What’s true for Beltzner can be true for you and me.  If only we’d let it…

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