The DevOps Playbook | Episode 5

Our teams have alignment and empowerment, so what's the next step?

The right people are our greatest asset

Let’s recap;

We have a clear vision, objectives and actionable metrics and we know how to pivot or persevere with our strategy. Our teams have alignment and empowerment.

We have Level 5 leaders with transcendent beliefs, personal humility and ferocious will. They lead from the front, care personally and challenge directly. They inspire disciplined people, stimulate disciplined thought and promote disciplined action.

We have selected our ‘Products’ and organised teams around them with the focus on value, flow and quality over scope, time and cost. Our teams both build and support the product and are self-organising, multi-functional and have pride in their products.

Our teams are diverse, united, trusted and happy. The right people are our greatest asset – they are knowledge workers and we have given them the perfect environment to flourish to be the best they can be. We have changed from ways that get the best out of manual workers and have understood how to get the best out of knowledge workers. Our leaders care personally and challenge directly. Our teams have adopted principles and practices that help them to achieve outstanding results.

All is great.

Illustration of Lara Croft style character

Don't start with the tools

So, what else do we need? Well, all great artists have their tools – Thor has a hammer; Captain America, a shield; Lara Croft, a bow; David Hasselhoff, Kit; Iron Man, a multi-functional suit; Michelangelo, a chisel; Yehudi Menuhin, a violin; Picasso, a paint brush; Ronaldo, a football; etc. These tools generally amplify the character of the user. They become an extension of the individual and as a result, the wielder can do significantly more than without them, a good quality tool is worth it’s weight in gold.

However, don’t start with the tools, start with the people and the objective. All too often, change starts with technology. Technology is an accelerator of momentum not a creator of momentum. Avoid technology fads and bandwagons, apply carefully selected technology wisely. (Technology Accelerators, Good to Great, Collins)

So, what are the tools of your knowledge workers? A computing device, with an operating system, a phone, keyboard, applications, monitor (or multiple monitors), programming languages, whiteboards, post-it notes, automation tools, connectivity, collaboration platforms, social media, the internet, break out areas, ERP Systems, HR Systems, workflow systems, Google? Are these the best possible tools that your knowledge worker could want? Are you providing your artists with the best possible instruments for their craft?

Illustrated diagram of cross polinating teams, taken from Spotify's Engineering Culture diagram.

Productivity in your team

Tools are there to help magnify the characteristics of the user – whether you are Indiana, Luke or Lara, these tools enhance who you are.

We need the same; Excel, PowerPoint, ServiceNow, SuccessFactors, SAP, Jira, Puppet, Chef, Docker, Slack, Hipchat, Snapchat, Instagram, Google, LinkedIn, etc. are the tools of the knowledge worker.

Referring to Spotify’s engineering culture (see diagram), squads have a level of autonomy with regards to how they work and what tools they use.

Tools and your team

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredible slow, inaccurate and brilliant: together they are powerful beyond imagination”

Albert Einstein

Gear Up

We have used the basics of Whiteboards and Post-its to ServiceNow StartNow to manage work with tools like Selenium for automation. Your teams should chose their tools that help them be the best they can be (within reason) and empower them to make choices, let them learn and fail but allow them to become one with their tool – then watch sparks fly!

Watch your teams, are they as productive as they can be? Ask them, what help do they need? Let them try and, if needed, fail, and then try again.