Understanding this dynamic is critical for leaders engaging in a DevOps transformation. Few can argue that, for most organizations, the implementation of DevOps is not as simple as adopting a new set of technical practices and tools. It is one of the reasons why Gene Kim’s novel The Phoenix Project resonated so strongly with virtually everyone who has read it. DevOps offers tremendous promise for organizations that embrace the Three Ways, shifting from a silo culture to a lean-agile mindset focused on a continuous flow of value creation and delivery.
However, the daunting history of failures associated with culture change presents a barrier along the journey to DevOps. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Quali, culture was the most frequently cited barrier to DevOps adoption among respondents. Combined with the research on the difficulties of culture change, the conclusion is clear: The transition to DevOps is inherently risky and prone to failure.
The easy answer might be to simply maintain the status quo and avoid the rocky path of cultural change that is often sparked by a DevOps initiative. The problem with that strategy is that DevOps is far more than just another methodology or framework for technologists. Today’s organizations face a never-ending stream of internal and external forces (market disruption from new entrants, global economics, geopolitical instability, currency fluctuations, changing workforce demographics, rapid advancements in technology, and more) that provide both opportunities and threats.
The ability to adapt and innovate rapidly in this environment has become a core organizational competency. Successful DevOps adoption leads to the changes in systems development processes, technology, and culture that enable the organizational agility required to gain competitive advantage in today’s markets. This leads to by reduced time to market, less waste, improved quality, and innovative products and services.
The inevitable question for leaders and change agents launching DevOps initiatives is clear: How do we beat the odds and stack the deck in our favor to increase the chances for success as we embrace DevOps principles, practices, and culture?