Sep182017

DevOps is a sound concept that can deliver myriad benefits to both business and IT. But according to Daniel Breston of Qriosity, the approach to DevOps is all too often wrong.  Here he explains the correct starting point and mentality towards DevOps.

Ever since technology entered the business world, people have been creating and introducing best practices on how to best use IT to resolve business problems, achieve strategic goals, make people smarter (and more effective and efficient), and to win and retain customers. In a historical context, the most prevalent of these approaches to obtaining superior processes have been ITIL, Agile, Lean, and now DevOps.

These movements all have at least two things in common:

  • The intent to get the most out of your company’s technology investment, in the best way possible.
  • The practices need to be led by the leaders in your organisation to become sustainable and to deliver the aspired-for benefits.

“Yes, I said LED”
Take DevOps for example. All of the well-known practitioners, consultants, authors, speakers, and bloggers have articulated that DevOps is a leaders’ movement. And the definition of the noun, rather than the verb, “lead” has two key definitions:

  • The initiative in an action; an example for others to follow.
  • A position of advantage in a contest; first place.
Daniel Breston

Daniel Breston explains the right way to tackle DevOps

Isn’t this what we want from technology? To help us, as businesses, to be first? To help us be competitive, compliant, at a lower cost, and with better people helping us to attract customers or to serve a purpose?

Stop Saying “DO”
Another thing that these movements, including DevOps, all have in common is that the number one constraint is not your staff, or your supplier, or your technology. The number one constraint to overcome – including with DevOps – is leadership.

For example, I used to be a director at a large bank and I can now admit to saying to my staff: “Do this, by this time, and within this budget.” Sorry to those people who used to work for me a long, long time ago.

Thankfully those days are now over, and they probably should never have occurred to begin with. What should have happened is that I learned the practices of these movements and then coached people to use these practices to get the best out of the technology. 

Let’s face it, for most organisations the technology is not only a significant part of the budget but also the thing that you want available as much as possible (after your staff). 

So, telling your people to go do Agile or Lean or ITSM or DevOps is not the best leadership practice. Your staff want to see you living or ‘being’ these things first. In other words, DevOps requires a leader to change first.

DevOps helps leaders get started
Fortunately, DevOps has a set of principles and values, underpinned by the other various movements that will help a leader to get started. And finding a coach to mentor themselves, and their teams is a great way for a leader to begin.

But, at some point, the leader, no matter their level in the organisation, will need to assume the mantle of coach. As a leader, and coach, you’ll have to learn how to do the things below and, more importantly, help others to do the same:

  • Collaborate
  • Communicate
  • Deliver step-by-step improvements to ways of working
  • Employ problem finding and solving techniques
  • Understand and address technology debt repayment
  • Undertake DevOps practices like code integration, delivery, and deployment
  • Facilitate the visual management of work or dashboards
  • Employ different thinking to derive a different culture

Importantly, you can’t mandate DevOps against a defined plan or time. DevOps is iterative. DevOps is challenging. DevOps is fun!

DevOps is something that you as a leader, and as part of a leadership team, need to embrace and show others, even suppliers, a better way of using and managing technology.

The proof is out there
The State of DevOps reports for the last six years from Puppet Labs, DORA, and IT Revolution have demonstrated the benefits for organisations that have introduced DevOps via their leadership: higher quality, less cost per product or service, increased attraction and retention staff, and improved customer relationships.

There’s no time like now to start leading the DevOps way – beginning with yourself! If you want to learn more, then please contact me.

Connect with Daniel on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

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