Usually, when people talk about DevOps, they focus on the technical aspects. However, in my experience we need to highlight what lies behind technology: the people. To effectively implement DevOps, we have to understand that many obstacles are not technical, but human.
In working with various organizations in their DevOps journeys, I have seen six main roadblocks to a successful DevOps implementation:
- We mistakenly blame technical obsolescence: Tech teams should avoid justifying slow processes and lengthy deployments just because of the existence of old systems. To do the best with current systems, analyze your workflow and decide whether the problem is less a matter of technical tools, but one of attitude and organization.
- We don´t cooperate: DevOps doesn’t work unless teams can work together. There are three steps to building collaborative teams. First, work hard. Your good work speaks for you; it gains you the respect and cooperation of your colleagues. Second, highlight the contributions of others. Offering recognition shows that each member of these diversified teams is important. Finally, learn how other teams are being evaluated so that you better understand their behavior and can work with them in achieving real cooperation.
- Our egos get in the way: Ego leads us to believe that our approach and knowledge apply to every problem and that we can simply solve these issues. It prevents empathy and the ability to properly help to those who come from a different context or background. In DevOps teams where people come together from different perspectives and backgrounds, this is particularly important. So please check your ego at the door.
- We are unwilling to leave our comfort zone or the status quo: DevOps is about speeding up processes and providing new ways to work. As a result, DevOps teams should question traditional methods and understand that some rules no longer apply in the digital world.
- There is a lack of leadership: DevOps teams succeed under real leadership. Real leaders give visibility to everyone and understand that anyone can offer critical contributions, even when least expected.
- We suffer from cognitive bias: Cognitive bias comes from our background, our personal experiences and our careers. However, we shouldn’t let this condition us. It is essential to move forward and understand that our experiences and knowledge do not apply to every context. DevOps teams must be aware of cognitive biases to build a proper solution for problems that may arise.
These six human aspects can often form obstacles to DevOps implementation. To help overcome these challenges, I typically recommend three broad strategies to organizations:
- Technology is a means but not an end. It is important to understand that technology is what helps us solve problems, but it’s not the solution in and of itself.
- Understand the problem and find balance. Avoid over-engineering; you do not need to prove how much you know about technology in general, you need to find the proper solution.
- Be humble and curious. Technology is never static. There is always something new to learn. In the field of DevOps, it’s critical to constantly investigate and renew ideas.
A successful implementation of DevOps is not only about automation. It is also about people who make decisions and use tools. However, for many enterprises, transitioning to DevOps represents a fundamental shift in how individuals and teams will have typically worked in the past. This is why I encourage DevOps teams to evaluate their workflow and be aware of aspects such as ego or biases, as they do affect performance. Handling these situations might require professional assistance. I suggest working closely with human resource professionals or turning to business psychologists to understand these human aspects. In turn, this will enable your DevOps teams to walk toward success.