The DevOps momentum is fierce in the enterprise today, as executives and middle management recognize the transformative power that continuous delivery of software has for a business. The message that DevOps can lead directly to increased profitability for organizations has seeped into technology leadership consciousness and tech leaders are gung-ho to reap the rewards.
The problem is that their enthusiasm isn’t necessarily translating into a meaningful enough change in leadership patterns to really optimize the benefits of DevOps. The “2018 Global Developer Report” released by GitLabs recently offers some meaningful evidence of this. Study results hint at some Pollyanna-ish attitudes by managers that potentially could be leading to them resting on their leadership laurels.
The GitLab study showed that managers are overestimating their DevOps teams’ performance as compared to the developers who are on the ground getting the work done. While 81 percent of managers say DevOps saves time in the development process, only 65 percent of developers agreed with that statement. There was a similar disparity when it came to awareness of speed of delivery capabilities: Approximately 47 percent of managers said their organization deploys code on demand or multiple times a day while only 39 percent of developers said the same.
This gap could point to a potential disconnect growing within leadership that’s unable to adjust their management style to DevOps’ democratization of everyday development responsibilities. The study shows that almost a third of managers admit they don’t have visibility into what others are working on.
While individual teams do need to be given the autonomy to get work done with less red tape in the way, leaders still need to provide companywide direction and strategic supervision. In the end, teams need to come together to meet global business goals, and that’s where managers need to step in.
“What you need your leadership to do is apply systems thinking, and that’s a whole another subject we could get into, but I don’t think executives and leaders know how to really address the, ‘How do I optimize this as a whole?'” Carmen DeArdo, technology director for Nationwide Insurance, recently told DevOps.com. “You need to really focus on the strategy and make sure you’re removing barriers and allowing teams to innovate and improve your delivery capability.”
Unfortunately, the GitLabs study proves out DeArdo’s point, showing that leaders are missing their mark in this regard. The survey showed that “unclear direction” is the top challenge named by developers in getting their work done. It was cited by 67 percent of developers as their biggest impediment.
Meanwhile, managers may not be aware that they’re not providing proper direction. Managers are 35 percent more likely to say they set project expectations up front than developers are to say they receive such requirements right out of the gate. In fact, only half of developers agree that they receive ample expectations and requirements from the start.