In this post, we take a look at the essential values that make for a great DevOps mindset.

This is post 10/100 in the 100 Days of DevOps series.

Many IT professionals today are having difficulty adapting to change and disruption. Are you struggling just to keep the lights on, so to speak? Do you have a sense of being overwhelmed? This is not unusual. Today, the status quo is inadequate, so IT is constantly attempting to reinvent itself.

With disruption so prevalent and there being such a critical demand for speed of change, we need both discipline and guardrails. The five essential values for the DevOps mindset, described below, will support the practices that will get us there. These values are not new ideas; they are refactored as we’ve learned from our experience. Some of the values may be interchangeable, they are flexible, and they guide overall principles that support (like a pillar) these five values.

  • Feedback from stakeholders
  • Improve beyond today’s limits
  • Don’t build silos to break down silos
  • Knowing your customer means collaboration
  • Inspire adoption through enthusiasm

Let’s look at these five pillars in more detail.

Feedback from stakeholders

How do we know if we’re adding more value to ourselves than to our stakeholders? We require consistent high-quality data in order to analyse, inform, and drive better decisions. Relevant information from reliable sources is critical for the success of any business. We must listen to and comprehend what our stakeholders are saying and not saying, and we must implement changes that allow us to adjust our thinking, processes, and technologies. To delight our stakeholders, we must adapt them as needed. Too often, we see little or a lot of change for the wrong reasons, as a result of inaccurate data.

As a result, aligning change to our stakeholders’ feedback is an essential value that allows us to focus on what is most important to our company’s success.

Improve beyond today’s limits

We want our products and services to continue to delight our most important stakeholders, our customers. As a result, we must constantly strive to improve. This is not just about quality; it could also refer to costs, availability, relevance, and a variety of other objectives and factors. Developing repeatable processes or utilising a common framework is beneficial because it can improve governance and a variety of other issues. That, however, should not be our ultimate goal. As we seek ways to improve, we must adapt our processes, which must be supported by the appropriate technology and tools. There may be reasons to discard a framework because failing to do so may result in waste or, worse, doing something of no value or purpose.

Don’t build silos to break down silos

Silos and DevOps are mutually exclusive. We see it all the time: an IT director hires “experts” to implement agile and DevOps, and what do they do? These “experts” create a new problem on top of an existing problem, adding another silo to an already siloed IT department and business. Creating “DevOps” titles contradicts agile and DevOps principles, which are based on the concept of breaking down silos. Teamwork is essential in both agile and DevOps, and if you don’t work in a self-organizing team, you’re doing neither.

Personally, I love the idea of deploying teams which can help start the journey, these are called advocacy teams. These teams are ephemeral, they dispand and are replaced with permanant teams as maturity increases.

Knowing your customer means collaboration

Every part of the business has stakeholders, and the primary stakeholder is always the customer, no part of the business is an independent entity. “The customer is always correct.” The point is, without the customer, there is no business, and in order to stay in business today, we must “differentiate” ourselves from our competitors. We also need to understand how our customers perceive us and what they expect from us. Knowing what the customer wants is critical, and timely feedback is required to ensure that the business addresses the needs and concerns of these primary stakeholders in a timely and responsible manner.

Inspire adoption through enthusiasm

Not everyone is motivated to learn, adapt, and change; however, just as smiles can be contagious, so can learning and a desire to be a part of a change culture. Adapting and evolving within a learning culture provides a natural mechanism for a group of people to learn and share information (i.e., cultural transmission). Learning styles, attitudes, methods, and processes are constantly evolving in order for us to improve. The following step is to put what was learned into practise and improve it, as well as to share the knowledge with colleagues. Learning does not happen by accident; it requires effort, evaluation, discipline, awareness, and, most importantly, communication.

Unfortunately, these are things that tools and automation cannot provide on their own. Examine your processes, automation, tool strategies, and implementation work, make it transparent, and work with your colleagues on reuse and improvement.

Up next

In the next post, we look at Maintaining a DevOps Mindset.