Kanban boards can improve visibility of work in process as well as create awareness across your team.
Kanban boards and small multidisciplinary teams. Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

The DevOps Mindset Will Revolutionize Your Entire Business

Defeat your competition and inspire your team with a cultural change. DevOps culture allows companies to:

  • gain footing in the marketplace
  • allow businesses to change faster and accelerate growth

What is DevOps?

If you are in the software development or tech community, you have probably heard of the DevOps movement: the joining of software development and IT operations into a lean and nimble practice that allows companies to bring products, features, and fixes to production very quickly. DevOps uses a lot of principles from other management practices and industries, including:

  • Theory of constraints (TOC) (Goldratt, 1984)
  • Toyota Production System (TPS)/”just-in-time production” (developed by Eiji Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno between 1948 and 1975)
  • W. Edwards Deming’s work on Total Quality Management (TQM) and systems management
  • Agile software development
  • Reliability engineering and safety engineering

What can DevOps culture do for my company?

DevOps culture is a growth culture. It is crucial for your IT and development teams to grasp onto DevOps, but it is equally important for DevOps culture to permeate every team and process in your company. By removing barriers between departments, DevOps culture allows your company to be aggressive about bringing products to market, making changes, and improving processes.

The 6 things you need to revolutionize your company

1. Empowered and engaged employees

How do I bring DevOps culture through my company?

It starts with people who get excited by the DevOps culture, concepts, and philosophies. Those people are your visionaries and early adopters. These people will become the zealots in your company and will help drive the movement through the ranks. Upper executives NEED to get excited about DevOps or your company will be fighting an uphill battle. You get bonus points if you can get a thermostat (someone who sets the ‘temperature’ of the team, regulates, and corrects them) in each of your departments to become a zealot, as those people will be your biggest agents of change. Thermostats are influential leaders and people listen to them, even if they are not in a senior leadership role.

Empowered and engaged employees

Survey your staff and ask them whether they have the ability and power to make decisions that improve customer experience, resolve problems, and improve the bottom line. In many companies, employees feel like they are just a cog in the works with no ability to contribute in a meaningful way. If an supporting employee was faced with a client issue that could cost a multi-million dollar contract, would they look the other way, knowing that they have no idea how to fix the problem, or would they take action and corrective measures, owning the problem? If they made a decision and acted on it, would they face disciplinary actions from the layers of management above them?

Small multidisciplinary teams

Small, interdisciplinary teams allow you to be agile and improve faster than the competition.
Small, interdisciplinary teams allow you to be agile and improve faster than the competition.
Mix departments to build new teams. Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Batch size matters: Keep work in progress from piling up

Work is performed in small batches, as close to single piece flow as possible in order to keep work in progress down. Picture an assembly line. Regardless what industry you are in (accounting, sales, etc), you want to make your work resemble an assembly line.

Have you ever been so busy that you get nothing done at all? That’s exactly what we are talking about. This picture is from The Phoenix Project, Chapter 23 (Kim, 2013)

Keeping work visible

Kanban boards are a common tool to improve visibility.
Kanban boards are a common tool to improve visibility.
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Building fast feedback loops

Feedback from employees and customers is the fuel for improvement. Fast feedback loops also tie directly to the second way in The Phoenix Project (Kim, 2013). There needs to be immediate feedback when a change is made. If a customer does not like a feature or finds a problem, is there a way to get that fixed immediately? If a salesperson learns that the widget is now obsolete, is there a fast feedback solution through marketing and production to change that product immediately without waiting months?

Building a learning organization

Many of you remember an article from the Harvard Business Review called Building a Learning Organization which calls a learning organization an “organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.” (Garvin, 1993). This was not an original thought, as Peter Senge and others worked on it earlier. Peter Senge said a learning organization is “where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.”

Training and learning should be continuous. Companies are encouraged to provide unlimited training and certification.
Training and learning should be continuous. Companies are encouraged to provide unlimited training and certification.
Training and learning. Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

DevOps wins by making the business win

Through creating organizations of empowered and engaged employees in small, multidisciplinary teams with visible/transparent work that is performed in small batches, with fast feedback loops and an environment that encourages continued experimentation, learning, and improvement, you create a quickly evolving corporate culture that is designed to be extremely agile and productive. Now that you have the people and culture, you need to steer the ship and make sure that the organization has a clear set of goals and strategy that is clearly communicated to the entire company.

Art is the President & COO at a managed service provider called MePush. He is experienced at leading IT operations, cybersecurity, and architecture teams.

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