Three Leadership “Musts” for DevOps

Introduction

DevOps has become more than a trend—it’s a survival imperative for the enterprise. In today’s digital economy, software innovation drives business innovation.  The faster developers can deliver on the next sign of software innovation, the faster the business can deliver customer value, bring new revenue brook online, and respond to market events. DevOps practices over the enterprise can deliver business results at the speed and quality customers expect.  

Many IT organizations begin their DevOps journey implementing automation and tools only to quickly face obstacle when trying to scale DevOps practices across the organization.  Their journey starts to take a detour as they struggle with organizational boundaries, unwieldy system-wide processes, and cultural resistance to change. It’s common to blame the people and teams that are not getting on board, but to quote Edward Deming, “People work in the system, management creates the system.” The 4 roles of DevOps leadership: Tell the Story, Be the safety guard, Build the Kernel team, be the communication enabler.

THE THREE LEADERSHIP MUST-HAVES

1. Executive Involvement

Leaders, including the CTO and the CEO, must work together to make DevOps a strategic priority. Just as soldiers, satellites, airplanes, and technology are strategic assets for the military, technology leaders need to utilize DevOps advantage to achieve their goals. Leaders should engage with business counterparts when harnessing the strategic value of DevOps.

2. Organizational Design Focused on Agile Value Delivery

DevOps transformations are not easy. They are difficult and need creativity which leads to a journey that not all people in your company are prepared to take.

  • Value Driven Organizations

The best way to oppose this challenge is to develop a healthy organization design. Separate organizational silos split by domains may be traditional; however, they are no longer effective. Many organizations, particularly those using Agile, are experiencing success by structure cross-functional teams. Each team creates work in parts of time, or “sprints.” Each sprint results in the team delivering potentially transferable increments of work product. Moreover, place more emphasis on grouping team to stream on delivering shared objectives. This structure will have a powerful effect on your company’s ability to collaborate and build business value.

  • Craftsmanship & Automation

Great DevOps companies need thoughtful and deliberate decisions to encourage great engineering craftsmanship. This craftsmanship ensures software is built with practices that encourage high quality product. The practices we follow should focus on receiving fast feedback on whether or not the code really works. Today, practices like Test Driven Development (TDD) are used to create lines of tests before the code is written. By writing the code to after the tests are created, developers create a collection of code that, by definition, is already tested before it’s finished, thus reducing errors in increasing quality. Automation is another key part to the product development flow. Once automated, a developer can automatically test the code with a simple click. The system can test the changes across thousands of developers’ new code in a fraction of time compared to manual tests.

3. Synchronized Product Planning and DevOps Planning

However, this top down approach to DevOps implementation is not the only possible path. As this article observes, “DevOps can be driven as a grassroots movement from the bottom or as a management direction from the top.” It claims: “Regardless of how DevOps starts or where it’s being driven from, the secret to long time success is buy-in and support from the leadership at the top of the organization.” We’ll let that article have the last word on the subject. “No matter where the spark for DevOps starts or which role drives the attempt, what’s important is that all parties embrace the concept, that everyone involved is accountable for the outcome, and that with that responsibility comes the freedom and authorize to do something about it.” This view seems to dispense with the need for leadership from the top. However the development of that state of affairs is unlikely to be achieved without effective leadership.

Conclusion

The ultimate goal of DevOps transformation is happen at the self-organizing system in which teams collaborate effectively simply because that’s how things are done, simply because they trust, understand and respect each other. This is a beautiful vision. As beautiful as a large codebase with zero bugs. However, the second law of thermodynamics clearly shows us that entropy or disarray will always increase in an isolated system. A system cannot increase its order without an external relationship. That means that as your DevOps becomes reality, the role of leadership will have to change. It must change from being the forming and driving power to becoming the channel connecting your organization with the outside world in order to negate entropy and allow change. Good luck on your DevOps journey.

Barghavi

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