...rants by Asheesh Mehdiratta on Coaching, Transformation and Change

Category: strategy

Try these 3 strategies to FIX your DevOps problems!

In my previous post, we saw the Top 3 DevOps challenges faced by organizations today. So let us review how organizations can address these challenges by leveraging the power of systems thinking, feedback loops and cultural transformation at the core, to claim the real promise of ‘agility’ for the customers and stakeholders


·      Build Ownership

The goal is to foster win-win relationships, where the dev and ops team start thinking as a SINGLE UNIT, responsible for end customer delight! This requires the organizations to align the Goals for both the groups and provide the ‘right’ environment for collaboration.

Organizations which understand systems thinking, can help the Dev and Ops teams visualize the FLOW (from concept to cash), and are able to articulate the importance of cycle time, while error proofing and preventing downstream defects (aka. operational headaches).

These teams typically use Value Stream Maps, to share the areas that slow them down (or identify bottlenecks), while building a shared understanding of the complete end to end system. These exercises allow the teams to build empathy for each other’s roles and share the pains, thereby allowing the silo’d groups to start to trust each other and build better relationships over time.

·         Build Shared Practices

The long divide between Dev and Ops can be bridged by amplifying the feedback loops at every step in the end to end delivery cycle and sharing the knowledgebase and increasing transparency across both the worlds.

Organizations typically start this journey by treating Infrastructure as Code, where there is a single repository of truth and everything is version controlled. The teams start thinking about making each step of the highest quality and incorporating feedback from multiple levels – application data, process data, infrastructure dashboards, and business metrics – to highlight pain points early and design shared solutions around the problems. Refer the diagram below highlighting the areas for embedding and/or extending the teams and crossing the systemic boundaries.

Organizations can be seen experimenting with embedding Ops and Dev team members across each other’s groups, whichallows for increased empathy (example – Design for Operations), learning’s and increased collaboration.
                                                                                        Source: DevOps Patterns Distilled (Velocity London 2012)

·         Build a Learning Culture

The best ways for bridging the cultural gap between dev and ops is to build a learning culture. Organizations which embrace the learning culture are good at communicating a compelling reason for the change (primarily business outcomes), measuring the new behaviours and giving feedback, creating “triggers” in the work environment that remind teams what needs to be done, and building communities (CoP’s) that support this shared learning

The leadership encourages learning from failures, and is happy to conduct experiments and take risks, promoting a healthy culture of constant innovation while aligning team goals and changing human resources policies.

In the end

Dev-Ops is a long journey and it begins with building a “we” culture among the development and operations teams with shared goals and shared incentives. The improved communication and collective ownership fosters an environment of trust, leading to sharing of ideas, tools, processes and everyone focussed on delivering business value at the end of the day.

Let me know what other solutions you have practiced with your DevOps teams.

Does continuous deployment help your product development strategy?

Can you deploy your software 50 times as day ? (yeah FIFTY) !! The folks at IMVU are doing it already..! But the more important question is if you can ripple this deployment model achievement into your overall product development strategy for achieving product differentiation in the marketplace?

The naysayers will resist and say that the product strategy is long term buddy and who cares about these minor deployment details…

But for emerging industries, where we have major technological and strategic uncertainties, and everyone is struggling to get the right business model or there is no product standardization, this deployment model also becomes one of the key links in the path to glory and market share.

To illustrate, let us imagine the IDEAL world of delivering a ‘differentiated’ product:
a) Product owners get ‘new’ requests from the customers FIFTY times a day
b) Product owners receive competitors/external environment reports FIFTY times a day
c) Project engineers can develop these ‘prioritized’ requests FIFTY times a day
d) Underlying platforms are available with ‘features’ for deployment FIFTY times a day
e) Project testers can test and deploy at customer sites the integrated product with ‘new’ requests FIFTY times a day
f) Of course if all the above happens then surely your ‘threat from substitutes’ is reduced by a factor of FIFTY if not more..

Imagine the customer *delight* when they receive their ‘new’ requests implemented in a single day !! WOW !!

Is this realistically possible / a necessity or just a dream? What do you think?

The folks at IMVU have certainly demonstrated the Deployment part of this linkage !!

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