F5 asked me to give a presentation on my experiences with DevOps at KPN. The Summit was held at the MediaPlaza in Utrecht.
It was only 30 minute presentation but the audience interaction was very good, lot’s of interesting questions.
At the core of my presentation were these 6 words:
Think Big, Start Small, Learn Fast
In big organizations not everybody knows what the “Big Picture” looks like. This is applicable even at different levels within an organization. Where is management heading? What does the Product owner want?
Decisions are made at the different levels of the organization but are they all aligned with the general direction the company is heading? Too often you see departments, teams, people making choices that are good for them but nof for the greater good.
You cannot eat an elephant at once neither can you build a new service in a big bang. Lessons from an earlier project (yes at that we still talked about projects) showed that trying to build everything at once is a doom-scenario. Building upon that experience we decided to start with a minimal viable product (MVP) for a selected group of customers.
The selected group of customers used the MVP, we gathered input on usage and missing features. With that information we improved the MVP in one or more iterations.
Features were added until we thought it would be good enough to present it to all of our customers as a “Generic Service” or product.
Working in small iterations, delivering small chunks is a good way to try things out. In case an iteration fails, it’s only one iteration.
We used to have a work principle “first time right”, that does not leave any room for failure. It’s a cultural change to allow people/teams to make errors. If it is accepted to make a mistake, it’s also easier to try new things and that is a skill you are looking for.
It clears the way to being innovative again. Explore, try new things, fail, learn from mistakes but keep on doing it.
So what have we learned?
- Always leave room for unplanned work, some things just cannot be planned.
- Stay flexible, adapt and learn and do not treat the way-of-working like a dogma.
- Beware of team-only focus, you and your team are stil a part of a bigger organization.
- Meeting creep, take a good look at all your meetings, do you really need to have them? Or are you afraid to for this new way-of-working and is it a convenient way to say you are busy?
And four takeaways;
- DevOps is a Culture change:
- Respect, each others qualities.
- Responsibility, take reponsability for your actions and your product.
- Learn from failure, everybody makes mistakes, learn from them and grow.
- Communication, transparency, within your organization and towards your customers.
- MVP, start small, deliver fast and iterate.
- Automate, more work but not more people? Automate!
Needless to say these slides contain my personal opinions from my personal experiences.