This reached a terrible crescendo a couple of weeks ago, and I sent a big "help me" email to my bosses. The initial response was to promote my senior minion Jess to co-tech lead, a creative solution that addresses several needs at once. That's taken a bunch of pressure off, and I've been able to unwind and do some more technical things. I'm still not doing mainline coding on the team, but that may or may not ever be possible. I also have to be careful not to just drop my workload on Jess, however happy she is to help: otherwise, she'll just end up with the problem I had.
The team is close--SO CLOSE--to the first milestones of this massive re-architecture we've been banging away at for the past year. We had a great meeting with the executive team today, which went something like this:
"Our customers are screaming with frustration and anger. What are we doing to fix it?"We established a common understanding of the situation, and everyone feels heard and nobody has any idea what else we can do that's faster than the re-architecture. It was a good bonding experience.
"We've been working on it all year. We're expecting to have something in production by the end of Q1."
"Phew. What can you do to help in the meantime?"
"Nothing, really. We've done it all already."
"That makes me a sad panda."
"I know! Us too."
Also we told the CEO we'd have it in production by the end of March. So, hey. We should get on that.