DevOps is not for sale

Developer Support

This post is provided by Senior App Dev Manager, Robert Shanks who reminds us to put away the checkbooks and instead: engage, empower and encourage your people!

I’m an Application Development Manager (ADM) on Microsoft’s Modern Applications, Premier Developer team. In my role, I have the opportunity to work with a variety of clients across multiple industries. Like many organizations, the clients I work with have objectives of achieving a better DevOps environment. Some have established DevOps Centers of Excellence to set the foundation of processes, governance, and tools “necessary” to achieve their DevOps objectives. Others hire Dev Ops Engineers to support their entire organization to enable automation, and facilitate shorter “go-live” cycles. Typically, the purchase of tools is part of the process to “make them DevOps” enabled. If you are an organization trying to become more agile and deliver value more efficiently; you’ve bought the tools, hired the engineers, and yet, are still finding it difficult to obtain your goals. Perhaps it’s time to pause, and consider DevOps is not for sale.

Organizations understand there is a need and purpose for DevOps, but just how to realize the benefits and achieve their goals is a matter of debate. Ask people at varying levels within an organization “what is Dev Ops” and it is likely you’ll hear a multitude of definitions. The differences of opinion about what DevOps means compounds the challenge of implementing DevOps capability. After all, if we can’t agree what something is, how can we agree on obtaining it? For the sake of establishing a common ground for this and future posts, I’m going to use Donovan Brown’s definition of Dev Ops, “DevOps is the union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users“.

The Goal: deliver value.

The Mission: transform into a high performing DevOps enabled organization.

I’ve seen companies spend money on new tools (technology), hiring new people and forming teams of DevOps engineers only to find out that they are not making much progress in their DevOps transformation. What then? I contend that the most critical element of a DevOps transformation lies in the people. To take it one step further, is the culture of an organization supportive of the changes necessary to achieve its DevOps objectives?

Many organizations are comprised of smart, eager, energetic people who would like to be part of something bigger than their day-to-day jobs given the opportunity. However, does every organization have a culture where people like this can thrive? When faced with the question, “where do we begin”, organizations should perform an introspective review of their culture to determine if they are positioned for success. Brook Karen (9/15/2017), a manager in Microsoft’s Digital Advisory Services identified a key factor for success in Digital Transformation, “successful Digital Transformation leaders and their organizations create a culture of continuous improvement by empowering individual leadership…”. Too often, organizations begin by looking to buy the best tool, or re-invent their processes, but few organizations will truly explore the one area that can make or break their success, their organization’s culture.

“Culture eats process for breakfast”, Aaron Bjork (10/2/2017)

Although the answer to where to start a DevOps transformation may be different for every organization, the common denominator that is vital to success is a cultural adoption and growth mindset among the people within the organization. People are the foundation of success in all facets of business and DevOps transformation is no different.  If you are looking for the “first step” in your DevOps journey, put away your checkbooks, stop trying to buy DevOps, and engage, empower and encourage your people! As Donovan Brown (09/01/2015) said, “… DevOps is not a product. You cannot buy DevOps and install it.”.

“Build the culture you want, and you’ll get the behavior you’re after”, Aaron Bjork (10/02/2017)

I’ll explore the rest of the DevOps triad, process and tools, in future posts on DevOps transformation.


What is DevOps?, Donovan Brown 09/01/2015

Agile at Microsoft, Aaron Bjork 10/02/2017

Are you a digital transformation leader?, Brook Karen 09/15/2017

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