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How I Supported the CEO and Lived to Tell the Tale
Every now and then something a bit unusual comes up. I’m based in Austin, Texas and Hassane El-Khoury, our CEO prior to the Infineon acquisition, was here too. One day, before the current pandemic stay-at-home orders, I received a request to handle an urgent situation. Not realizing what the issue was, I immediately asked for the details. What I heard was definitely not what I was expecting. “Hassane is having trouble with GitHub. You’re in Austin. Fix it.” As luck would have it, I also manage the company’s GitHub presence. So right guy, right place, and began my adventure in providing direct support to our CEO.
It turns out, a subtle mistake when setting up his remote repo on GitHub caused a litany of issues. He reverted a change which corrupted his Eclipse workspace metadata, and of course everything broke. However, that wasn’t the root cause of his problems. As we dug into this particular issue, we discovered something more serious. Our tools did not do a good job supporting his use case. You could get it done, but it wasn’t easy and needed significant workarounds.
ModusToolbox software is designed to be flexible and adaptable to your workflow. It is based on the idea that you’re going to start with something from us and consume it. That works very well.
Hassane’s use case was the next step down the road. “OK, I did that. I’ve changed it and made it mine. Now I want to share it. I’ve got a couple of collaborators on my project and I want to put it on GitHub.” A completely reasonable and normal next step in many projects. Problem is, it didn’t work.
Keith, one of our senior engineers, was assigned to help so that the development team could see what I was seeing. I literally looked over Hassane’s shoulder. We found a few things that, if changed, would significantly improve the usability and experience for our customer, even if our customer is our own CEO.
Once Keith and I got him up and running with the workarounds, the engineering team fixed what we found. That part is normal. Part of my job is to handle escalations from the support team, especially around tools. Sure, this time the escalation was our very own CEO, but the process is still the same.
The other fixes are included in ModusToolbox 2.1. I swear Hassane was one of the first people on the planet to download it after it was released! He called that same day to get working on it. Hassane, Keith and I jumped on Zoom to put it into action. Keith and I mostly just watched over his virtual shoulder as he went through what he needed to do to set up a remote repo and incorporate his code. When it was done, he says “Cool, that was straightforward. I’m good to go, I’ll let you know if I run into problems.”
I haven’t heard from him since.
We should have caught all this in the first place, but who among us is perfect, right? The real trick is getting better. So how did we catch this? This is the best part of the whole story.
We eat our own dogfood. Right up to the CEO who uses the tools I help build. That is both rare and awesome! Having the CEO find your problem is, shall we say, not ideal. Having a CEO who canfind problems - that is as good as it gets. I'd love to hear your stories of eating your own dog food! This was the most fun I've had this year.