Many years ago when I worked for a Japanese shipping company, Taga-san bought a little red rubber stamp that she used that said “urgent”.  She would stamp documents with the “urgent” stamp to try and garner more attention.  Soon almost every document had the “important” stamp, so the diligent Taga-san went out and bought a “very urgent” stamp.  This too began to appear on documents more and more frequently.

It was only when I joked with her that I visited Kinokuniya Stationary store and noticed they were “having a sale on super duper special urgent stamps” and being confronted with the tears of laughter streaming down her co-workers faces that Taga-san backed down with the stamps.


I apologized for the cruel joke with some very expensive cake from a local bakery and she told me that she was often frustrated trying to communicate her priorities to other people.  So for about $5 in rubber stamps and $25 in cake we learned a valuable lesson – setting priorities is difficult and communicating them is even more difficult.


In my current position as “Operations Team”, I bounce around many different things everyday.  Communicating my priorities is still extremely difficult.  Inspired by the Ironport Rule 0 : “Don’t do anything stupid”, I have my own Priority 0


Priority 0: Production Works


Simple, but not easy.

Priority 0 is only one thing and it never changes =>  Our production environment is running and earning revenue for the company.

  • All requests get dropped at a moments notice for any Priority 0 issue.
  • All projects get delayed for Priority 0 issues.
  • All issues are resolved after Priority 0 issues.


Whiz-bang new feature, new flavor of the month data store test server, staging issues all have to take a back seat to Priority 0.


Priority 0 costs vary by company.  I’ve worked at places where Priority 0 cost 90% of time and places where it’s been as low as 20%.  It’s never free and rarely taken into consideration, but setting it and making sure it’s understood by others is critical.


Taga-san, moshiwake gozaimasen



Categories: Tech