Abstract/Description

DevOps is all about continuous change and improvement. The only constant in a healthy DevOps culture is change. Conway’s Law teaches us that our systems will only change as our human communication methods change. That’s behavior. Ergo, if you cannot facilitate and provide for human behavior change, your DevOps culture will suffer as a result.

Problem: humans don’t like change. This is not a cynical statement. Humans evolved to be creatures of habit. Habit is safe. Routine is safe. The known is safe and the unknown is not. This one thing – the instinctive human desire to resist and rebel against change – is the single biggest blocker to a DevOps cultural transformation.

Our observations are that organizational rank is less relevant in this space. We can command that employees work, but we cannot arbitrarily command behavioral change. Introducing behavioral change via command without also aligning cultural perception tends to result in many points of subconscious rebellion that can ultimately defeat the original initiative without ever manifesting tangibly.

We have seen success here by selling ideas instead of instilling them forcibly. We have our partners, our teams and our change agents all arrive at a common truth via an interview and discovery approach instead of a command approach. In doing so, we align the culture on the idea and can then rely on cultural safeguards to see it through.

This is a powerful concept, but the path is fraught with pitfalls for the change agent, both external and internal. We’ve seen success and failure in this space, and the success/failure patterns may not be immediately obvious to newcomers. The ability to remove value judgments from change initiatives and willingness to prioritize the change atmosphere over one’s own ideas for change are among the critical characteristics we have seen in successful change agents. We will analyze these characteristics and others and discuss how to best stay on track for long-term transformational success even when short-term initiatives see rejection.

Attendees will come away feeling better empowered to attack the change needs in their respective organization.

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