“Wartime” vs “Peacetime” at Tech Companies
The difference between the two operating modes at tech companies, and how to thrive in each of these environments.
I asked several startup founders about trends they’re observing in their businesses, and at other new companies. Several mentioned there’s an accelerating shift to a “wartime” mindset. This phrase is becoming more common at larger companies, as well.
So what is “wartime?” How does it compare and contrast to those periods we can call “peacetime?” How do these different states affect employees, and how can you thrive in them? In today’s article, we aim to help answer this question, covering:
From wartime to peacetime at Uber. My observations from the shift.
Wartime vs peacetime in tech. What is “wartime” and “peacetime,” and more generally, what is it with using military phrases in a tech context?
Differences between wartime and peacetime. The contrasts.
Where does crunchtime fit in? And why is it more likely to indicate crunchtime?
Transitioning between wartime and peacetime. And signs that make it clear when such a transition happens.
Thriving in wartime vs thriving in peacetime. Approaches that work better in the different stages.
Tech debt during wartime and peacetime. Why do companies in lengthy wartime phases not suffer badly with “tech debt?” A few interesting explanations.
In this article I use the term “wartime” strictly in the business sense. Hard times at a company are in no way comparable to real warfare and the suffering it causes to innocent victims and affected communities. At present, the largest war in Europe since World War 2 is ongoing; the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I reflect on this tragedy in an article published shortly after it started.