In a 2013 survey of the Katzenbach Center, 84% of the respondents said that culture was critical to the success of change management. Another 64% identified organizational culture as even more relevant than strategy or operating model. Introducing change – and that is what DevOps in the enterprise is at its core – is all about culture. And in IT, a world of technology, recognizing the significance of the cultural aspects of the work sometimes get overlooked.
In the last post, I gave an overview of introducing DevOps from a change leadership perspective. There’s a lot being written about technology and processes when introducing DevOps, but less can be read about the challenges that lie in culture, inter-person relationships, and communication.
Looking at the potential obstacles to DevOps adoption beyond technology we previously divided the DevOps transformation in the enterprise into 8 steps or phases:
- Create Awareness
- Build the Foundation
- Have a Vision
- Communicate like never before
- Empower your Team
- Tenaciously Stick to It
Let’s dive right in and look at the first phase and the relevance of culture.
In the first phase you evaluate the status quo of your organization: Do employees realize that the current approach to addressing challenges has no future? Do they know that the industry is moving faster than the company is? Or are people busy with stuff that does not accrue to the bottom line, or worse, prevents progress?
Do not underestimate the importance of this very first step. Without proper analysis of the current state, and without backing your findings with solid data and facts, you will not complete your journey to DevOps. And none of the following steps will succeed either.
It is also essential that you realize the situation you are in and creating awareness about it with senior leadership. Only with executive buy-in will you have the leeway to begin your journey to DevOps.
All too often, companies take the wrong approach to DevOps. Driven by the pressure to deliver more strategic results in less time and with better quality, rather than taking their time to enact sustainable culture change.
Consequently, they introduce DevOps through a top down mandate that’s enforced by management, or a bottoms-up approach through development teams and their agile development motions. In response, operations teams come to realize that keeping up with the fire hose of new software and features coming their way for deployment and management requires that they look at new ways of coping.
Regardless, the CIO plays a fundamental role in this change and must lead if they are to be successful. If you have not heard about The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, now is a good time to pick up a copy – after you finished reading this post. As CIOs, your role is critical to the success of any DevOps effort. You have a great sense of the business, deep understanding of your IT organization and the required authority to bring about change that achieves better results faster.
A first step to DevOps is creating proper awareness. Just because your teams are busy does not make them successful? What are the areas that create the most work? How long does it take from idea to deployment? What are your bottlenecks? Which teams are involved?
This is a subset of questions very relevant and important to know but there is more. But this is just the cold facts. If you want to succeed it is important to also speak to the heart of the people involved. Sound cheesy? Maybe not. Connecting the business data with the human aspect of the work, addressing their pride as much as their technical expertise is key for the success not just of DevOps.
In the next installment of this series we will look at building the team for your DevOps effort. Finding the right people and building alliances.
For now here’s a list of resources for you to dive deeper: