Every IT transformation requires that people, process and technology align and work together to achieve success. As organizations begin to appreciate the benefits of a DevOps approach and look to change to a DevOps model of software development and release, there will be significant pressure on people, process and technology to support that change properly.
The technology and process changes required to enable DevOps to work efficiently shouldn’t be underestimated. Considerable time and investment is required in embracing the automation technologies that support a proper DevOps environment, and in developing the processes that make best use of that technology.
But DevOps cannot work unless your people are ready to change. Development teams and IT operations—who traditionally have worked in silos—must work together, integrate seamlessly and understand not only their roles and responsibilities within the new environment but also the roles and responsibilities of those around them.
And therefore, like every change, the real key to success is your people.
Creating Successful Change
The benefits of taking a DevOps approach are numerous: By moving toward more frequent delivery with reduced elements of change, you lower risk and increase system stability. Although automation is costly to implement, it allows teams to work far more efficiently, increases reuse, reduces errors and brings development teams closer to the customer. New functionality released continually and rapidly can be validated in the market, feedback can be received, lessons can be learned and improvements implemented quickly.
But in making such a radical cultural shift, how do you ensure you change the mindset of people who have been used to working in a certain way? How do you provide your people with the helicopter view of what that future state will be, instill in them your fervor for change and provide them with the understanding and motivation necessary to embrace new ways of working? How do you ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction? Because without that, your change—already difficult and challenging—will become impossible.
The Key to Change
The key to any successful change is communicating your vision to your people. But providing your staff with a clear vision of what that future state could be is enormously difficult. You can outline the benefits of change, explain to them what good will look like, tell them what is in it for them, and all of these are hugely important.
But there is no substitute for allowing people to actually feel what your future state will be like.
Nothing compares to parachuting them into a situation where they can work through the changes required in a risk-free environment, experience the pitfalls and live the successes. As you move them to a fully functioning and productive DevOps environment, you will accelerate buy-in from your team rapidly, and give them a much more profound understanding of your vision and future state.
The Power of Simulation
Simulation training is one of the most effective tools to explain complex concepts and operating models quickly and convincingly. A presentation on DevOps—or almost any other topic—is not a productive method of showing someone the difference it can make to their work or their business. It’s the difference between reading a script and performing a play. More and more, companies are using simulation training as a shortcut to inform, educate and convince their teams of the value of large-scale organizational change—and DevOps is a prime example.
One of the key benefits of the simulation model is that people learn together. Your team learns at the same pace, working toward the same goals—and, as a result, they collectively show each other the value of change. With a traditional change program you need each employee to go on his or her own journey to recognize and adopt your vision. With a group simulation you take everyone present down the road toward a collective “aha” moment. Once that moment has happened you have an instant group of advocates who can go out to the business together and begin to effect change on a much more fundamental level.
Simulation Brings Agility to Adoption
Providing a simulated environment in which to train is not new; it has been used extensively and successfully by the military for decades. Commercial pilots train on simulators to provide them with as close to a real-world experience as possible of some of the life and death decisions they may need to make in an emergency. They understand the power of experiential learning.
Simulating a DevOps model brings that power of experiential learning to your business, allowing you to immerse your people in a concentrated and deeply focused environment where they face the same challenges as they will in the real world.
In one short morning they get to experience building a culture of DevOps themselves, making mistakes, understanding them and learning from them. It demonstrates the business value and positive impact of a DevOps approach in only a few hours, and can accelerate the adoption of DevOps across the enterprise, successfully turning DevOps opponents into advocates.
In a world where the quality of your software can make or break your organization, it is critical to create an environment where developers and operations are not only aligned and more efficient, but also empowered and able to concentrate on developing and releasing products that add the most value to the business.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t effect convincing organizational change in a single morning. However, by immersing your team in a simulation, you can take a giant step forward and create a team of advocates who will go out and sell your vision for you.
About the Author/Andrew Macintosh
Andrew Macintosh is a Creative Solutions Director for G2G3. He works with clients across the globe, helping to understand requirements and craft technology based solutions to engage staff and customers, internally and externally. Prior to joining G2G3 Andrew ran a production company and worked within the TV industry for 12 years.