Change is in the wind.
This time of the year, as winter weather gives way to springtime renewal, this concept isn’t a cliché but rather a concrete, visceral experience. You go outside, smell the earth defrosting and know for certain that change is happening all around you. You can feel it.
Such is the case on the current DevOps landscape. Seemingly every conversation, with everyone from end users to industry analysts, reaffirms that people are making significant progress toward greater adoption. For an increasing number of organizations, DevOps is maturing from a set of budding goals into a tangible reality.
At the center of this massive shift within the software factory is the issue of cultural change; as we know in all things DevOps, culture trumps all else. So how are organizations affecting, empowering and measuring all this seismic transition, in particular the human elements?
During the recent DevOps Virtual Summit, leading practitioners representing industries ranging from banking to travel and technology shared their views on the progress of cultural reinvention.
From management tips, to tools and even metrics useful for driving transformation, here are some of their observations:
- What’s the most critical cultural aspect of planning?
Kazi Whitfield, director, Quality Engineering, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.: Scalability on this is the key; if you’re doing this at a new organization, you need to understand how to scale it, and starting at some smaller level helps you get there. It also helps each individual and those components that are changing to truly understand what’s changing, and why it’s changing; I think that’s a huge part of the conversation that has to happen.
- What’s the biggest obstacle to cultural change?
Eric Warheit, senior manager, Environment Management, Southwest Airlines: The challenges that we’re working through are organizational in nature. It goes back to the question of localization, and people maintaining a mindset that they’ve previously had, and what we do to create the conversation around what’s possible and the key impacts that we want to have. Ultimately, it’s about being productive with quality, and creating those common values.
- How can tools enable cultural change?
Eugene “Bear” Lehenbauer, group manager, Information Technology, Citrix: If I have to pick one that links them all, a ring to rule them all, that’s when you have an orchestration platform that can take what individual teams are already using and plug right in, or you can take what needs to be automated and automate it; that orchestration harness can now become that common thing that links them.
- How can you ensure cross-culture collaboration?
Warheit: Creating that concrete example, that proof case tying analytics to it, so that we have real measurable ways to make good business decisions, and being able to foster that perspective so that we can look across the organization, as opposed to in a localized way, is really critical to be able to foment that collaboration that’s needed.
- How do you measure cultural change?
Daniele Romano, product owner, Continuous Delivery Pipeline, ING Bank: The most important thing as an organization is to able to apply an analytical approach, meaning that for each team or department you should look at the current situation and have in mind the target situation, and then have different means to guide everyone toward that target.
- What’s a key cultural change metric?
Lehenbauer: We’ve a developed an agility rating scale that allows people to earn scores for something as basic as change management. Based on how those key metrics behave, and there are several of them, but they are fact-based and they’re user impact driven for the most part, they reward the right behaviors. Those types of things can draw out some of DevOps principles results, but also have hard data behind them.
- How do you recognize advocates of cultural change?
Whitfield: Being able to phase reward and recognition into the process is key. Organizations are doing a lot of great things and making millions of dollars, and as the individuals that are coding or testing are driving it, you have to understand how you get to those people’s hearts, to make them passionate about what they’re doing. That’s something that becomes key and it’s something that’s different per organization.
- What’s the best way to gauge successful cultural transformation?
Romano: There is a really only one critical human metric, which is happiness. So, if engineers are happy and they can deliver fast, at a high quality and with intense focus—that’s a very unique but important metric.
So there you have it, some of today’s most critical elements in driving the cultural transformation necessary to succeed in the DevOps world.
If you missed the DevOps Virtual Summit you can still view recordings of all the sessions including this customer panel, and stay tuned to this space for more excerpts and highlights.