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Why Your Org Needs a DevOps Culture

Back in the 60s, the self-help explosion gave rise to the “organizational culture revolution,” which got a big surge again in the 80s, but today, the Internet has made this trend larger than ever before. Trust me, whether you’ve heard of it or not, you’re definitely part of it. It’s what happened when one simple idea transformed the corporate business world: groups of people working together create a culture that’s unique to that place.

The real revolution came when people took that central nugget and expanded it: Because there’s such a thing as an organizational culture, we should do what we can to make it better. All of this sounds super-obvious, right? Sounds like it shouldn’t have taken 50 years to get to where we are? But the problem is how complicated everything becomes when we try to define “better”.

Should the culture make things better for the business? Better for the customer? Better for the employee? Different interpretations and different efforts have had their own ways of defining “better”. DevOps is an organizational culture that sprang out of software and hardware development companies — it gives all employees a sense of ownership in the completed product, grants the company the ability to complete projects faster, and puts a huge emphasis on fast, frequent, and safe testing of rollouts.

The skills associated with DevOps are separate from the culture, but they go hand-in-hand. Your company needs to get on the DevOps culture bandwagon, and we’ll tell you why.

Make your Culture a Good One

No company gets to choose whether or not they have an organizational culture – you can only try and push that culture in a certain direction. What’s more, it’s usually companies who don’t proactively handle their culture that have the worst ones. Is your company a place that encourages productivity, rewards efficient communication, and supports risk-taking and internal advancement? Should it be?

Learning the tools, skill sets and culture of DevOps can build a trustworthy, efficient, and professional culture by building trust, fast communication, and mutual ownership of product development. You and your employees contribute to the internal business culture every day, and if you’re not intentionally shaping that culture toward a positive, productive, and profitable one, you have no guarantee that it won’t become a culture of laziness, inattention, and even waste!

DevOps is a Technical Choice, not Managerial

The first thing you have to understand about transitioning to a DevOps culture is that it’s as much an abstract cultural decision as it is a functional one. DevOps isn’t just hanging posters in your offices that say “Communication, Responsibility, and Trust.” DevOps is also a series of specific IT and network administration skills and tools.

If your company wants to reduce time-to-market for new features, more confidently deploy software releases, and make more efficient use of hardware infrastructure, you need personnel trained in DevOps! DevOps is an integrated change to the way your company creates its applications, rolls out updates across your enterprise, and verifies the integrity of your network. IT personnel, system administrators, and developers need DevOps training before your company can embrace the culture.

Embrace a Culture of Trust, Communication, and Productivity

DevOps practitioners design products for the safety, contentment, knowledge, and freedom of their peers and customers. What that means for your company is faster, more reliable communication between all stakeholders in product development, less friction between different teams, and faster, more secure development testing.

A DevOps culture focuses on three main things: Open communication, incentive & responsibility alignment, and respect & trust. Because DevOps as a business culture grew out of software development, the skills you can learn to implement DevOps lend themselves particularly well to tech companies.

Specifically, many tech companies are saddled with habits of communication that require complicated ticketing systems and request procedures. Instead, DevOps focuses on every team having open communication about a product throughout its entire lifecycle. But also, productivity and build metrics get displayed prominently, so they’re available to everyone.

All this means everyone becomes incentivized to take responsibility for their contributions to the product and everyone carries the weight that they should. In other words, development doesn’t just write a ton of code and get rewarded; or if operations can’t get all that code to run as expected, they’re not punished. The team is rewarded — as a team — and shares in the improvement process.

All of this hinges on respect and trust, which are fundamental to the DevOps culture. Since the entire team’s success hinges on everyone pulling their own weight, every team member must respect their colleagues. It doesn’t mean liking everyone, but everyone’s contributions have to be recognized and respected. The DevOps culture emphasizes restructuring rewards to discourage internal fights, siloing of resources, and organizational politics.

There are tools and systems that encourage and enhance the DevOps process. Chef is a great example. The DevOps mentality and Chef are intertwined; Chef is a configuration management tool that grew out of the DevOps system and if you need to control and manage your infrastructure in a way that enhances your product as well as your company, it’s time to learn DevOps and Chef! But it’s not enough to want to change over to DevOps, there’s also training, preparation, and execution. And we can get you started!

 

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