Change is Hard

A Series on Beginning DevOps /part two

“assorted-color lear hanging decor” by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Start with the Tooling

Start with the tooling, and start it fast*. Up until the point where you can demonstrate what’s possible, you’re going to struggle with conversations because you risk fighting deeply entrenched belief systems with what appears like fantasy.

Listen

You’ll have some time while the tooling is being built. Use this wisely. Just as if you’re a political candidate vying for a seat at the next election, it’s important to listen to your voters to see what’s going on in their minds. What do they love? What are their challenges? How can you help?

Build Advocacy

While you were out talking to people, you’ll find at least a handful who are frustrated with the amount of time that it takes to deploy, or the number of hoops they have to jump through in order to effect a change, or… something.

Manage Fear

Along the way, you’ll encounter people who don’t understand where you’re taking things, or why. Perhaps they are acting out of fear for loss of their position as their job is automated away, perhaps they see a loss of control and a reduction in their ability to influence.

Seek Executive Sponsorship, But Avoid Making it a Gating Factor

There are different levels of sponsorship, the most common that I’ve seen are:

  1. You’re hired to get this thing DONE. Which is perhaps the easiest, assuming you and your management see eye to eye on approach. Under these circumstances, you will soon have the resources on hand to execute. It’s all on you, buddy!
  2. Some other team is responsible for the tooling, but your management tells you to stay away. This is a little harder, and you’ll have to carefully evaluate your degree of confidence in the other team’s ability to both execute, and support you. You’ll also have some risks around difficult conversation with your management should the endeavor succeed or fail. Good luck in figuring it out.
  3. Your management either doesn’t understand the value or benefits of the transition to a DevOps culture. This is a really hard spot to be in. Hopefully you can work with them on agreeing approach and timing, and there will likely be some negotiation required. If you can’t gain any traction, though, then you’ll have to decide whether the other aspects of the job make it worthwhile sticking around, or whether you’d rather feed the hungry and expend your energy more productively elsewhere.

Build Community

It’s possible to build community too soon. There’s a decay curve around motivation, education, and excitement for this new world: go in too soon and you’ll be taken as all-talk. So it’s important to pace how (and what) you communicate.

Software and Technology Nerd, DevOps Ninja, Maker of Things, Aerospace Enthusiast. https://orc.works/