Applying the lessons learned from the NCAA tournament to DevOps in your organization.
‘Tis the season for filling out brackets, secretly checking your favorite team’s livestream at work and watching your ranking rise and fall in the office pool.
Unless you’re this guy, your bracket is already busted. However, there’s always hope for next year, especially if you pay attention to five key indicators that experts say predict the success of teams in the NCAA championship.
But you don’t have to wait until 2020 to put these tips into action. In fact, carefully constructing a March Madness bracket can actually teach you a lot about DevOps.
The following five tips can be applied to your next bracket, as well as your software development team:
Don’t Rely on Offense Alone
A great offense is key to scoring, but the gap between offensive and defensive efficiency can make all the difference when it comes to a team’s chance at the championship. Over the last 17 years, only one national champion didn’t finish in the top 20 for both offensive and defensive efficiency. Similarly, software teams have to rely on multiple team members including the programmers focusing on new features and fast plays, as well as the QA and operations teams ensuring that there are measures of testing and monitoring in place, so those same features aren’t released with bugs and breakages. To be successful, you need to aim for a balance of speed and quality. In DevOps, your efforts will fall short if you’re only thinking about your offensive strategy while underestimating the importance of strategic defensive plays.
Coaching is Crucial
Coaching experience has become a strong predictor of future success, as 15 of the last 17 NCAA title champions were led by a coach who had been to the Final Four previously. Similarly, leadership and management in DevOps and the transition to DevOps is paramount to creating an environment that is supportive of the necessary changes. In fact, according to a Forbes Insights and PMI survey, 85 percent of respondents said that change management is critical to their success in times of disruption. As teams attempt to speed up their processes to meet consumer demands, it’s evident that leadership is going to be a defining factor of the success of the team. Additionally, amid a cultural shift, management needs to have the right mindset to get the entire team on board, adopting new tools and practices. Just as coaching influences college basketball, experience, skill and vision all come together for transforming a team and creating a culture of DevOps.
Upsets happen—that’s the beauty of March Madness! While teams are seeded to indicate the likelihood of success in the NCAA tournament, you might think that it’s always best to pick the highest seed. But according to the NCAA, you should be aiming for around 16 upsets in your bracket. Just ask anyone who had UVA in their Final Four last year, when the No. 1 seeded team lost to 16-seed UMBC, how important it is to expect an upset. Sometimes, all your systems are perfectly in place and everything is performing as it should, and something will still break. What’s more important than aiming for perfect software delivery is having the processes in place to patch bugs, handle downtime and fix errors when they inevitably occur.
Teamwork Will Tell You Everything
There’s always talk of the star players, but success comes down to much more than one person’s free throw percentage, shooting efficiency and steal rates. Most of the statistics you look at to build your bracket revolve around teamwork—the team’s strength of schedule, the team’s winning streak, the team’s loss margin, even the measurement of explosiveness and competitiveness. None of these points can be attributed to one person; they change from season to season, and they’re all about how the entire team works together. Selection Sunday is needed every year to seed the teams because performance changes every year based on the team dynamic. Similarly, your organization will not be successful in DevOps if there is not a focus on communication, collaboration and teamwork.
The Absence of Key Players Will Trip You Up
While you can’t depend on one star player to determine the outcome of an entire team, you’ll also run into trouble if key players are out for the season. Just think: You probably wouldn’t pick Duke to win as quickly without Zion Williamson. Just the same, when there are key teams and team members missing or not committed to a changing culture, it will hinder others. There are various roles that every organization needs to succeed in DevOps, and this requires everyone to be on the same page whether you’re in development, operations, QA or are a business stakeholder. People are one of the most important parts of the transition to DevOps; if the entire team doesn’t show up, new technology and approaches won’t be able to make up for it.
There’s a strategy to everything, and it just so happens that your approach to DevOps may be similar to your approach to filling out your bracket.
By following these five pieces of advice, your software team will be more prepared to win it all when it comes to attaining a faster delivery of high-quality products.