February 19, 2015

DevOps Cultures Require Change Leadership

“DevOps isn’t a role or organization, it is a Culture!”

I was fortunate to have coffee last Friday with a CTO of a multinational mass media corporation based in New York. We covered a lot of different topics like innovation, digital disruption and time to market, but he got really passionate when we entered the area of DevOps.

It seems that even the most modern and fastest moving of the household name companies out there are still grappling with the notion of DevOps. Specifically, that DevOps is not a new organizational unit that has to be stood up, roles that have to be hired for or even experience that has to be executively recruited.

DevOps Cultures Require Change Leadership

To realize DevOps, it will take the right leadership and that right leadership has to lead a cultural shift. If Culture is community behavior, it stands to reason that a cultural shift is all about shifting the behavior of a community. That community is the workplace.

Community behavior in a “modern” company often looks like:

  • Development Organization = Software Development
  • Information Technology Organization = Production Operations


Some workplaces operate with a silo structure that resembles:

  • CTO = Sets technology direction and engineers new software to serve customers and drive revenue
  • CIO = Provides the infrastructure and production environment in which the CTO’s new software operates

Solving for DevOps

Many companies right this minute are having executive leadership team conversations that involve building a new organizational function that carries the title DevOps, whose function it is to sit between the CTO and CIO organizations to realize DevOps in their business. They’ve got droves of analysts figuring out where to pull the budget from, which jobs to eliminate, which organization structures to revamp. All in an effort to speed the time that newly developed working software can move along the conveyor belt of develop-test-deploy-support at a faster pace so that more new software gets deployed and supported by Operations sooner and continuously.


Companies already have their DevOps professionals. They just fail to Realize it.

Companies already have their DevOps experience. They just fail to Unleash it.

Company leaders have their DevOps organization, they just need to Lead it.


Nothing leads cultural shifts like action.

You want to lead a DevOps revolution in your company, try this non-radical, non-budget impacting set of actions:

  1. State to the whole business that DevOps is not a new organization or set of roles
  2. Tell those same people that they already do DevOps today, just not at a modern and mature level
  3. Give them confidence that it is not as hard as the hype, but it will take a mindset that embraces continuous change and adaptation
  4. Transfer one of the most talented professional from the Information Technology organization that has been supporting software production deployment to the Development organization
  5. Transfer one of the most talented professionals from the Development organization to the Information Technology organization
  6. Get back to work
  7. Watch what happens

My premise is that you already have the DevOps function and talent within your business. Leaders just need to do what leaders do – lead change so that the company continues to adapt to an ever-evolving world. By taking the first step to softening the silo walls between IT and Development, you will accelerate the change.

That Information Technology pro that you just moved to Development will help the Development organization see the world through the eyes of the IT organization that has to keep business services securely running non-stop.

The Development pro you just moved to IT will help the IT organization see the world through the eyes of a developer who is pressed to write error free code that can be deployed rapidly to serve the company’s revenue generating efforts.

Commit to change in an ever evolving world and Watch What Happens!

Too simplistic an approach? Have you tried it?

This post was originally published on Tony Orlando’s personal site at www.TonyOrlando.net. It was also published as a post on Tony’s LinkedIn profile.