There was a lot of brush back last week over Jeff Knupp’s post about how DevOps is killing the developer. Frankly I wasn’t shocked by Knupp’s opinion that developers “are the dentists in the dental office”. In my 30+ years of involvement in the IT industry my experience is that developers often think of themselves as the only smart person in the room. Often times that is the reason they are are the only person in the room, lol. The fact is many developers relate better to code than to people. For me all this talk about DevOps killing the developer is akin to saying power steering killed the driver. Just because you can do more with new technology, does not mean one dies, one just has to pivot and in this case become business social.
Now the sociable part may be the problem. Sometimes I feel that DevOps is trying to create a love fest between Ops, Developers, QA, security and the rest of the IT stack. While they may not have to love each other, I do think they all need to be nice to each other as opposed to ignoring or just going around each other, as was all too often done in the past. A common scenario I have seen for example is for developers to rollover Ops by stating this is mission critical for the business. These tactics will no longer work to let developers have their way.
Developers need to realize they need to become a normal part of the business social structure. They will be required to talk and work with people, not throw tantrums when they don’t get their way. Left unchecked, certain developer personality types can sabotage your project, or worse, make themselves no fun to work with. I am sure we have all met and unfortunately had to work with people like that. In my career, I’ve encountered virtually every personality type. In fact, I’ve also knowingly hired all of them. They know who they are; they are the developer that if challenged or worse accurately taken to task for lack of being part of the team; quit cause they can’t manage the confrontation, thus interpersonal stress. In the old days they would not come out of their house for weeks continually playing Leisure Suit Larry, if your not familiar with it Google it
I remember one of my good friends telling me this story that sums this whole developer persona issue perfectly. This company, we will call DevGoof, was a well funded start up. Every quarter they held a meeting with all the employees to let them know how the company was doing. Most employees had some kind of equity play in the company, so everyone was incented and theoretically interested in company performance. Several quarterly meetings came and went and not one developer showed up. Eventually DevGoof management got concerned and called a mandatory meeting for all developers’.
DevGoof management put out some pastries, juice and coffee for the brain trust. Then proceeded to tell them why these meetings were important to them and their fellow employees. Notably pointing out how it is not just about them but also about the rest of the DevGoof team. This meeting went on for about one hour and not one developer asked a question. So eventually this meeting was over and everyone went back to developing. The next morning, about 50% of the developers quit and some in a not so professional fashion.
The moral of this blog is the DevOps is going to force the development community to become more interpersonal within the business environment. This will lead to personal success within the new world of DevOps. The DevOps Developer/Engineer that can demonstrate leadership and compassion for team will be the one leading the DevOps way within the organization. Don’t be a Devgoof!
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