Shared Focus – Using The First Way with DevOps

A common issue I see when discussing DevOps with teams or organizations is the presence of Organizational Silos. Organizational Silos are made up of all types of people. Sometimes its a job type, like developers, qa, or infrastructure. Sometimes its a department, like accounting, or hr. Whatever the composition of these silos, they usually impact organizational performance and the ability to deliver value to end users.

This happens over time, with members of the silo identifying with each other, viewing those not in the silos as outsiders. Depending on the business, the silos can lose trust in the business overall and tighten ranks around their silo. The silos can turn into walled fortresses. When the silos get in the way, the silos are more focused on their own success than the success of the organization.

This can also happen with leaders. Leaders trying to turn their areas into fiefdoms. Leaders concerned about their power, responsibilities, or bragging rights. Either way, like the silos, situations like this can lead to groups concerned about their success, instead of the success of the organization.

Common Goals

To really succeed, to improve and to grow as an organization, everyone needs to share some common goals and shared focus across the organization. How do we bring value to users? Sure, Dept A can release X feature or function, but if it depends on Dept B to work, it brings no value. If developers can write lots of code, does that benefit the user if it isn’t tested? If that code doesn’t have resources to run on? If you’re writing code no-one wants? Or systems are built and configured but there’s nothing to run.

When everyone is working towards common goals and have a shared focus, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I was introduced to some of these ideas as “The First Way”. I read about this in “The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win” by Gene Kim and “The DevOps Handbook“. The ways were also in a blog by Gene Kim called “The Three Ways“. If you haven’t read either of these books, please go read The Phoenix Project.

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