Rob Young is back in the MySQL ecosystem (now working at Percona), but he was previously at MongoDB (formerly known as 10gen), and he made a really interesting observation:
10gen places a huge importance on all employees having a working technical knowledge of its products.
I joined 10gen with years of application and database development experience, mostly using relational models. While most concepts apply to a document-oriented model there are enough technical differences that leave me as a complete novice when it comes to specific MongoDB details and its practical use cases. I have spent my first month in a series of self-guided and instructor led technical training sessions and a practical, real-world bootcamp that have proven to be a welcome quickstart to my understanding and working with the technology. This will pay great dividends as I get more overwhelmed with my true PM duties.
I cannot agree more with this stand that MongoDB takes. All employees should have a working technical knowledge of the products that the company makes.
I remember back in MySQL AB, it was a requirement that support engineers spent their first 3 months on support requests but were also required to get certified during that timeframe. That’s fine and dandy when you have a certification program that you’re selling ;)
I think its important for everyone to know what their products do, instead of just the engineering/consulting/sales engineering teams. It is important for the executive team to know what products they really offer. It is important for the sales team to go beyond what they are given in product brochures. It is important for the marketing team to know what they’re marketing (else they just spout garbage that no one listens to).
Kudos MongoDB for the smarts!