When DevOpsGroup landed at DevOps Enterprise Summit London 2019, one thing became crystal clear: DevOps helps organisations in all industries tackle digital disruption, but the journey is challenging and there’s no one-size-fits all approach.
The unique format of DOES, with its focus on experience reports, shines a light on these journeys. Which means we can all grow together as a community.
Events like this are a great opportunity to take a step back and consider the bigger picture. The benefits of DevOps are obvious to us, and evidenced in our clients’ businesses every day. But many organisations are just starting out with DevOps. DOES gives them an opportunity to hear from trailblazers – like RBS, Adidas and BMW – about what worked for them and how they effected change. In Gene Kim’s opening comments, he emphasised that a central purpose of DOES is to give people strength and courage to continue, despite the challenges.
The keynotes and breakout sessions we attended on DOES day one were inspiring as ever. But here are three things that really stood out for our team:
1. Acknowledge that change means loss
Nicole Bryan’s excellent session Transitioning from Project to Product underlined the importance of understanding and easing the emotional impact of transformation on employees. She suggested taking time to work out what people will lose as a result of changes, creating a ‘loss map’ and finding ways to manage the repercussions of this.
People don’t typically resist change per se, but they do fear losing things that they value. By addressing these needs honestly and openly, you’re more likely to win hearts and minds, bringing employees on the transformation journey.
2. The importance of focus: do less, but do it well
We’re all familiar with the adage about eating the elephant one bite at a time. But there’s no need to eat the whole elephant. Focusing effort where it will have the greatest impact is more important than trying to do everything. In his fireside chat with Gene Kim, Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley argued that the role of a good leader is to provide focus and clarity. Deciding what you won’t do is just as important as deciding what you will do.
3. Popularity is no indicator of quality for open source tools
The breakout session hosted by Stephen Magill and Derek Weeks spotlighted best practice use of open source tools. Engineers need to apply due diligence and be accountable for the tools they deploy, rather than simply opting for something on the basis that it’s widely used elsewhere. As cybersecurity issues continue to escalate, this session was a timely reminder of the responsibility DevOps practitioners hold.
Transformation is hard, but we mustn’t succumb to the burnout epidemic
Burnout was a central topic of conversation at the industry party last night, following Dr Christina Maslach’s excellent talk on this theme. Stress and heavy workloads are a key factor causing burnout, and Dr Maslach believes it is a warning sign of a toxic work environment.
Drawing an analogy with the canary in the coalmine, she says burnout should be considered an indicator that the work environment needs to change. We shouldn’t be trying to build a ‘more resilient canary’.
It will be interesting to hear more on this when Dr Maslach sits down with Dr Nicole Forsgren and Dr Steven Spear for a workplace engagement panel facilitated by Gene Kim.
We’ll be giving all of these ideas more thought and using them to help improve our clients’ DevOps journeys over the coming weeks and months.