Part 1: Transformation to DevOps
This is a multipart series of articles that takes you through the major touch points for an enterprise that wants to successfully transition from a traditional IT approach to an "Enterprise Agile" or DevOps strategy.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a paradigm shift in organizational culture, which highlights and is defined by:
Collaboration of People
Convergence of Processes
Creation & Exploitation of Tools
DevOps team members contribute, cooperate, advise and share equally in this responsibility. In a DevOps world there is no separation of responsibility and accountability, the team owns the success and the failure. DevOps is a blameless culture, where the team members are not afraid to fail and not afraid to experiment. Note that you will find the remnants of separation of duty and entitlements will only persist for compliance and audits (at least until the external rules and regulatory oversight evolves and changes).
Such a collaborative environment produces an organizational culture that:
Can respond quickly and proactively to market conditions and pressures
Is more involved in the organization’s core business
Inspires increased performance
DevOps teams are less bureaucratic and are focused on delivery as their core competency. This results in a team that is empowered and is accountable through its ownership of the end-to-end process. DevOps has been called a mindset, a movement, and a set of automation tools.
First and foremost DevOps is a foundational change in culture. This article looks at ways to gauge your company’s (or team’s) culture and what you can then do to foster a better one.
“DevOps is a blameless culture, where the team members are not afraid to fail and not afraid to experiment.”
When we use the term “culture” in the DevOps context, what we mostly mean is a culture of improvement. This is an elusive and probably the most important aspect to a successful DevOps transition. In order to be successful the culture of a group will most likely need to change the way it thinks and behaves.
Poor culture leads to talent drain, where most of the time the team is working on “Run the Business”, or unplanned work focused on break-fix tasks with a high degree of context switching leading to frustration and the inevitable loss of talent.
An improvement culture will attract and retain good talent allowing them to spend more time on “Change the Business” or creative tasks, with less context switching, along with reduced scheduled downtime (evenings and weekends) comes freedom for more personal time. It’s no surprise that job satisfaction is highly correlated with business outcomes.
It takes a good deal of effort to turn around a team with poor cultural habits. Teams with an improvement culture achieve results faster and enjoy the journey along the way.
So what does an improvement culture really mean? Let’s explore this a little and then examine the techniques that foster and continue the promotion of an improvement culture.
Why improvement culture is important
The culture of an organization is one of the strongest predictors of both IT performance and overall performance of the organization. Three major factors that contribute to organizational performance: IT Performance
As IT performance increases, profitability, market share and productivity also increase. IT is a competitive advantage, not just a utility, and it’s more critical now than ever to invest in IT performance. Organizational culture and climate for learning
DevOps has always been about culture, not just about tools and processes. The cultural practices and norms that characterize high-trust organizations — good information flow, cross-functional collaboration, shared responsibilities, learning from failures and encouragement of new ideas — are the same as those at the heart of DevOps. That helps explain why DevOps practices correlate so strongly with high organizational performance. Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is the No. 1 predictor of organizational performance and it also highly correlates with a DevOps target culture. The practices that DevOps promotes lead to an increase in employee satisfaction. If you build and foster a culture that attracts and retains talented people, this will lead to better business outcomes.
What Is Your Culture?
You cannot directly change the improvement culture of a company. What you can do is to alter the behavior of the people within it and then that behavior will become the culture of improvement.
As mentioned earlier, culture is elusive, but nonetheless it is the key ingredient to initiating and promoting change. Culture predicts patterns of response to problems and opportunities and the team leadership is key to shaping the culture going forward.
In order to pursue an improvement culture, you first need to examine and take a look at your current level. In order to do this you will need to ask some questions to see where your team or group stands.
Below is a list of questions that can be asked to get an impression for the culture of a team or group. The answers to these questions will shed light on how information and knowledge flows through an organization or team.
What level of cooperation do you have within the team?
What happens to messengers bringing unpleasant news?
How is responsibility handled and shared?
What is the team’s attitude to improving relationships?
What does the organization do when failure is encountered?
How does the team deal with innovation?
The answers can be interpreted on a spectrum that ranges from pathological, through bureaucratic, and ends with generative. This table shows a form of the answers to the above questions and the associated spectrum that they fall into. Obviously the best answers for an improvement culture are those in the right-most or Generative column.
|Pathologic (Power oriented)||Bureaucratic (Rule oriented)||Generative (Performance oriented)|
|Low cooperation||Modest cooperation||High cooperation|
|Messengers shot||Messengers ignored||Messengers trained|
|Responsibility shirked||Narrow responsibilities||Risks are shared|
|Bridging discouraged||Bridging tolerated||Bridging encouraged|
|Failure leads to scapegoating||Failure leads to justice||Failure leads to inquiry|
|Novelty crushed||Novelty leads to problems||Novelty implemented|
Fostering An Improvement Culture
There are many ways to foster an improvement culture, here are the three key methods that Enterprise Engineering, (EEI) has encountered or utilized:
DevOps Team Exercises
The next white paper will detail EEI’s DevOps approach, including implementing key methods, overcoming challenges and fostering a successful DevOps environment within the company.
Founded in 1995, Enterprise Engineering, Inc. (EEI) is an industry-leading software and IT consulting services firm for the world’s largest Financial Institutions and premier wealth managers. Now an established and innovative FinTech company, EEI is know for being collaborative, outcome-driven and client-focused with a reputation for quality and innovation.
EEI has extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the markets. By combining our services and software, EEI creates custom deliverables to achieve our client’s objectives. EEI’s Trusted Network Product Suite™ facilitates data access, aggregation and transaction processing for more than 75 Financial Institutions and over 20 service providers. This enables 8,000+ Financial Institutions to access over 16,000 sources of financial data.
In 2016, EEI received the “Excellence in Wealth Management Award” by Corporate Livewire and won Wealth & Finance Magazine’s “Most Innovative Asset Aggregation Solution” for our Trusted Network Platform™.
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