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Unlocking a DevOps Culture

“Unlocking a DevOps Culture” on, April 29, 2020.

DevOps pioneers John Kern and Alan Zucker explain why shifting to an agile DevOps environment unleashes business potential.

In simple terms, DevOps blends software development (Dev) with IT operations (Ops), boosting communication and collaboration between the two. The goal is to deliver value much more quickly and increase scalability and reliability, said Alan Zucker, an expert in agile transformation and the founding principal of Project Management Essentials LLC, a training and advisory firm.

“DevOps encompasses principles of lean, agile and systems thinking to provide a mindset, a set of practices, and automation tools to enable greater agility,” Zucker said.

Translating this into a company culture isn’t easy, but it happens, Zucker said, “the magic can occur.”

People Over Process

One of the values of the Agile Manifesto is “individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” And in a culture that embodies DevOps values, people come first.

“Companies that succeed in DevOps focus on the culture,” said Zucker. “They recognize that they have hired bright, talented individuals. The role of management is to create an environment where their teams can unlock their creative energy. There needs to be some guardrails on the process, but countless studies have shown that teams produce better results than individuals acting independently.”

A major component is to empower people at the lowest reasonable levels to be accountable for their work, Zucker said. Another is to shift performance recognition from the individual to the team.

Growing Pains

Zucker pointed to some cultural barriers to watch out for during the implementation stage: The manager still tells the team what to do, still controls who is going to do it, and still monitors their performance.

The Right Mindset

When an organization successfully lives the DevOps culture, transformation takes place because the top executives support employees. They support the innovative spirit of a team that tries to emerge and do something better for the business, said Kern. And teams are integrated and transparent.

“DevOps got its name because its original focus was breaking the organizational silo between technology development teams and operations,” said Zucker.

It’s made such an impact that phrases like DevSecOps, BusDevSecOps, BusDataSecOps and DevNetOps have now started creeping into the vernacular.

“These monikers explicitly recognize that organizational silos and poor collaboration exist all along the value-delivery stream,” Zucker said.