An item of our team culture: The Gollum.

Posted by Steven

The other day I returned from lunch and I found Gollum sitting on my screen. Gollum is a little toy figure that is given to a developer in case he caused problems for the team, such as breaking the build on the CI-server or commiting code with compile errors. I took a classic: I commited our database properties file with a wrong configuration. This caused another coworker to execute code against the database the testers where using. This could lead to wrong test results. Following his duty, the team member who is responsible for the deployments of our application instead deployed the Gollum on my desk.

Receiving the Gollum triggers several things. First, one thinks about his own failures. Hopefully, I never get the Gollum for commiting wrong configurations ever again. On his voyage through the office, Gollum causes technical chats between team members. The day I received Gollum, I was asked several times what the reason was. This spreads knowledge.

However, Gollum causes focus on bad behavior, not positive actions. I proposed to introduce other figures out of the Lord of the Ring universe to give to coworkers for good actions such as a prolonged pair programming session. Interestingly enough, this idea wasn`t received with the same enthusiasm as giving  Gollum to other coworkers …