How to implement a DevOps culture 🤔

Fresh off DevOpsDays Minneapolis this seems like an appropriate topic. By the way, hello to all our new members who signed up from that event :wave:

You can introduce yourselves to our new members here, I’m sure they’re excited to e-meet you!

This was my first time ever attending a DevOpsDays or any DevOps focused event in general. I learned a lot and was able to realize how hard it is to implement and maintain a DevOps culture.

Heidi Waterhouse left us with this great quote on DevOps during her speech at the event: “DevOps is and always has been about people.”

Often, you see orgs misusing DevOps and labeling it as a job position or something when it’s actually a culture.

This quote, and the event in general, got me thinking on how to make DevOps be known more for what it really is, and what truly goes into changing your orgs culture into one that is DevOps focused.

I would love to hear the community’s opinions on what it takes to get that done!


Yes!!! :clap: :100: I’ve seen so many “DevOps Engineer” positions. If only certain people are “doing DevOps”, then you haven’t made a culture shift at all and things won’t really change.


Let me tag @bnwoods here because I know this is a topic she understands!

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How could I forget @JimShilts?! You are now tagged :slight_smile:

As @raphabot suggested – I have some opinions in this space :laughing:

First, DevOps has become a buzzword in recent(ish) years. There are so many organizations that are like “what day will we have the DevOps”. The answer is you wont. If you’re looking for a day that you’ll have it – you’re simply looking for the wrong thing or not asking the right question. DevOps is not something you have. It’s in the everyday actions and decisions you make as an organization.

Now… Those decisions that I mentioned. So many organizations are cutting ops, telling devs “do everything” and “use whatever tool you want” because :rainbow: innovation :rainbow: or #MoveFastBreakThings but that’s not it either. In order to really harness the power of DevOps organizations need to act as enablers of thought leadership (another buzzword). Ops has incredible and deep system knowledge that will help you drive the innovation you want and developers have the ability to drive your organization forward through innovative applications that ultimately drive customer experience. The whole point is marrying the two groups and their collective wisdom and harnessing that power. Do that.

@madelinev also brought up a great point. You can’t have just a team in an organization “doing DevOps”. I understand why some organizations have titled roles as “DevOps Engineer” or teams as “DevOps Teams” – because like I said it’s a buzzword. It’s a means to attract fresh ideas/talent while also trying to meet market demand and sometimes (not always) navigate some corporate red tape. But there needs to be an understanding that DevOps is an entire organization cultural awakening.

Practices. Those have to change. Throwing things over the wall at each other. That has to change. No amount of organizational change management is going to help achieve more harmonious DevOps practices that help drive the business value that organizations crave if behaviors like that continue. In order to achieve this “thought leadership” ideal state your teams need to be empowered to collaborate - and not just empowered, but encouraged. Your teams need to feel like they have the space to do this. If there’s still corporate red tape in the way keeping them from collaborating or having ownership in driving the organization forward give them the space and power to remove those blockers.

Speaking of red tape - remove your silos, don’t create new ones. If you have an organizational structure that is siloed, your organization is going to have to knock those walls down.

Then finally - practice what you’re preaching. As an organization, if you have done these things and knocked down walls and given people space to do things remember not to drive people back to the behaviors you’re trying to change. Praise collaboration. Empower it. Praise thought leadership. Don’t dictate.

I’m realizing that even though I said “finally”, I have tons more to say. :laughing:

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Great topic, but a bit sad that this far in, we still need to constantly define it as a methodology as opposed to an activity or a role. Vendors certainly share a lot of the blame as it is popular to label your solution as a “DevOps Tool.” Hiring managers are also muddying the waters by creating “DevOps Manager” roles (DevOps Manager usually = Automation Specialist or CI/CD process owner)

DevOps is a methodology of communication between everyone in the organization, including Development, Production, Business Unit Owners, Executive Leadership, etc. and continuous improvement, including automation, security, features that impact the business positively, lean, measurement, recovery and more.

Where do you start? I believe it starts with leadership fully understanding, embracing and communicating this methodology to the entire organization. You don’t even need to call it DevOps. Just enable and empower your teams and business units to all row in the same direction.