New ideas don’t come to those who are afraid of breaking the rules. Improving something usually means you’ll have to push the status quo aside and try something that hasn’t been done before. What may be a standard operating procedure will have to make way for a brand-new approach with its own set of rules and goals.
This applies directly to DevOps, which requires changes in how departments operate, how employees interact and how problems get solved. DevOps may be an idea your company is considering, but if the culture isn’t compatible with it, DevOps will never become an active part of your day-to-day operations.
If DevOps Is the Engine, Culture Is the Fuel
Let’s say two employees who don’t normally work together wind up taking an unprecedented approach to solving a problem. To their surprise, this new way of working together is incredibly efficient and a big improvement over their usual methods. The two recommend this kind of collaboration to others in their respective departments when it comes to spotting problems, fixing them and preparing for future ones.
That’s the moment when you’ll know how receptive your company is to DevOps. This kind of cultural litmus test determines whether department silos can be broken down and new avenues of teamwork can happen. No matter the company or industry, its culture is the foundation for DevOps adoption. When that culture fits, DevOps is an ideal vehicle for improved productivity, with culture being the fuel moving it forward.
Getting the Right Cultural Fit
In order for DevOps to happen, you need the right conditions, similar to how certain plants only grow in the right ecosystem. Team members must be able to interact in ways they may not have in the past. The right culture is one that allows flexibility, spontaneity and resourcefulness to take place.
On the flip side, DevOps won’t work in a rigid environment where departments are siloed and methods can’t be questioned. DevOps has a slim chance of taking off in a company that wants to hold onto previously established rules about divisions between departments. Anyone who stands up to say, “That’s not how we do things,” will be a hindrance to progress. Greater benefits are in reach, but to make them a reality, a company and its employees have to be willing to make some changes and allow agile collaborations to flourish.
DevOps Culture in the Real World
For those who have already put DevOps in action, culture was, and continues to be, a central issue. Household names like Twitter and Netflix may be known for their DevOps practices, but many lesser-known businesses have found that their cultures identify with DevOps collaborations. The recently published e-book from Rackspace, The DevOps Mindset: Real-World Insights from Tech Leaders features interviews with a variety of DevOps practitioners. The importance of culture is a common theme throughout these discussions.
These firsthand accounts emphasize how encouraging new ways of solving problems depends on the proper culture. As James Kenigsberg of 2U explains, “You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to embrace the DevOps culture; anyone can do it anywhere with the right people.” Bharat Krish, CIO of HBO Latin America, also emphasizes culture as an essential factor. “When I think of a DevOps culture,” Krish says, “for me it’s building a foundation where development can happen in a more agile fashion.”
Start with the Biggest DevOps Requirement
Knowing that DevOps benefits one company doesn’t necessarily mean it will automatically benefit another. Company processes, structure and communication standards all play a part in determining whether DevOps is right for your business. DevOps isn’t a product that can simply be plugged in – it requires a new way of thinking about agile software deployment.
Culture has to be at the center of a DevOps adoption, and assessing your company’s culture is a crucial first step in determining whether DevOps will be a good fit for your organization. As long as your company is flexible enough to allow some cross-departmental collaboration and silos to be broken, then prepare for DevOps to take you to new levels of productivity. You’ll find that breaking the rules isn’t such a bad thing.