Agile Organization

Is Your Workplace Ready for DevOps?

The success of agile has now paved the way for the current wave of DevOps rippling through organizations. And like agile before it, DevOps is being met with resistance, some loud and some quiet. In an article for AgileConnection, Matt Hilbert discusses the cultural changes that are necessary for DevOps to be implemented successfully in the organization.

Identify Your Culture Type

Hilbert draws from culture research published in an unlikely place, a journal for health professionals from 2004. Nonetheless, the insights are valuable. The research finds that the ways groups process information allow their cultures to be classified in one of three ways: pathological, bureaucratic, or generative. In pathological cultures, people try to hoard information and power (not good). In bureaucratic cultures, abiding by rules and processes is the major priority, whether or not the rules actually have value (also not good). In generative cultures, work and motivation is initiated and fueled by the strategic mission (good!). Each of these cultures can apply to groups of many sizes too, such that different cultures can exist in different departments of the same organization.

Clearly, a generative culture is necessary for DevOps to flourish. But about the other two cultures, Hilbert writes this:

If you work for an organization with a pathological culture, DevOps probably isn’t an option. Cooperation and collaboration are actively discouraged, so the glue needed to connect dev and ops is missing. If you really want to do DevOps, you’re out of options here, and it might be worth moving on.

In bureaucratic organizations, introducing DevOps is possible, but there will be problems. Think soft DevOps here, with long lead times and planning meetings before a tentative first step is taken. Patience is key, but conversely, once DevOps is successfully introduced, it will become the new norm and take its place in the rulebook.

For further discussion, and for a long example of culture using NASA, you can view the original article here:

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