How to adopt a culture of speed

Almost 80 per cent of organizations say they’ve started on the journey to become more agile, but they’re not really seeing the results yet, according to a survey on the State of DevOps.

“They know it’s the right thing to do but haven’t been able to move faster with application development, and I think that’s where the real problem lies,” said Paul Twigg, Chief Technology Officer, NTT Data Services at a recent ITWC briefing.

DevOps is a practice that combines software development and IT operations. The goal is to shorten the development cycle and provide continuous delivery with higher quality.

Watch on demand: “Adopting a Culture of Speed”

Although most organizations are still working through the process, Twigg said that the pandemic and the acceleration of cloud adoption have pushed things forward. “We’ve just had the experience to show that we can change without a moment’s notice,” he said.

The panelists at the briefing agreed that any company can transform by building DevOps into their culture and embracing new approaches.

Throw out your five-year plan and other speed-building tips

Culture and resistance to change are often the biggest barriers to success, said Aaron Unger, Product Owner, BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “We need to give employees the reasons to change.” he said. That starts at the top, said Twigg. “The big thing is trust. If we don’t have that support from our C-level executives all the way through our budgeting lifecycle, we’re never going to get to a true DevOps World,” he said.

Executives must set the example of embracing and adapting to change. “The idea of a three to five-year roadmap that is fixed is being thrown out the window,” said Twigg. Unger agreed. “If you are set in stone that you’re going to be somewhere in five years, and you’re not willing to change, you’ve already failed,” he said.

Employees should be set up for success in this changing environment, said Sarah Willock, Senior Director of Pharmacy Healthcare Technology, Loblaw Companies. “It’s really around empowering the individuals on the team with the skills and coaching they need to learn more and to grow,” she said. “But, overall, the secret is to really encourage passion.”

Willock also stressed the need for collaboration tools to build a culture of knowledge-sharing and outcome-driven successes. This also supports the hybrid work environment, said Twigg. “If teams are talking all the time and we are constantly focused on outcomes, then this concept of where we work from will completely disappear.”

An approach based on outcomes will be helpful to obtain project funding, Twigg added. This makes it easier to show a return-on-investment to the executives that control the budgets.

Start small

The first step will be easier if organizations make it smaller and more granular, said Willock. “You can go slowly at the start just to get that integration at the very preliminary level.” Unger advised that, when getting underway, the team should choose a project that they’re confident will be successful.

Implementing containers and microservices will help to deal with projects in smaller bites and with greater velocity, said Twigg. “The world’s moving at such a fast pace, and I think that, as technologists, we have this amazing opportunity to keep it moving faster and make humanity better because of it.”


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.

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