Devopsdays 2020: Five ways to screw up your devops transformation - Dave van Herpen

Tags: devopsdays

(One of my summaries of a talk at the 2020 online devopsdays Amsterdam conference).

Organisations engage in devops transformations as we are more happy ourselves that way and our customers also. Better products. We ought to become faster, smarter and safer.

Devops gained momentum by adopting and integrating several existing and new practices like lean, agile, cloud, CI/CD, SRE. Success lies in combining this in a healthy balance: people, process, technology.

How to do this in your company depends on your company. But one thing valid for all: we can learn from mistakes. So here are five ways to screw up.

  • Fail #5: keep calling it a devops transformation. Watch out for using such buzzwords. Don’t just throw in “kubernetes” and expect everything to improve. You need to know the reason, the intention behind the term/technology/buzzword.

    Watch out with “labeling”. It is often short-term. You start with agile, then it is called scrum, then it is called devops, etc. Your organisation quickly gets weary of such labels.

  • Fail #4: just gantt it. If you think such a transformation can be done with a nice linear project plan: no.

    What you need to look at: CYNEFIN framework. So: stop using complicated tools to deal with complex problems. CYNEFIN differentiates between complex/complicated/chaotic/obvious.

  • Fail #3: keep calm and let the agile coach take care of it. So: don’t open a can of agile coaches. Agile is only one aspect of devops, so by hiring one kind of coach, you’re neglecting the others. (Note: there are good coaches, but watch out.)

  • Fail #2: stick with fluffy culture stuff. Yes, culture is important. But you shouldn’t look at it at too high a level. If you start monitoring, you want specific useful measurements, not generic graphs. The same with culture.

    Dive deeper with culture, too. Look at specific behaviours like feedback or transparency or prioritisation instead of a lofty high-level goal.

  • Fail #1: allow fake change. Don’t fake devops for management when there’s no real change. Don’t leave the existing organisational structure in place: you have to change it. If the structure stays the same, the results will also stay the same.

    Look at what management is doing. What do they say and what to they do? Does what they do match what they say? The Germans have a nice word for it: Eisenbahnscheinbewegung. A “railway fake movement”. The feeling you can get in a station that your train is moving when it actually the train next to your window that’s moving.

    Call out fake change when you see it!

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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