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'Accelerate' with the DevOps Research and Assessment team

DevOps success will require a focus on learning and an expectation of high-performance. The DORA team explains in its new book, 'Accelerate: The Science of DevOps.'

In the latest DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) book, "Accelerate: The Science of DevOps -- Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations," Dr. Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim apply their data-driven approach to software development methodology as it currently works. "Accelerate" represents four years of research into how to measure a software team's performance. Dr. Forsgren was the primary researcher on the project and it's the second collaboration between Kim and Humble -- following "The DevOps Handbook."

In this second of two excerpts, the authors offer their best advice on how to create a learning-driven, "high-performance" culture in your organization. Hint: It's not about hiring a consultant or copying what other companies do.

A high-performance culture is far more than just the application of tools, the adoption of a set of interrelated practices, copying the behaviors of other successful organizations, or the implementation of a prescribed, expert-designed framework. It is the development, through experimentation and learning guided by evidence, of a new way of working together that is situationally and culturally appropriate to each organization.

As you begin your own path to creating a learning organization, it's important to adopt and maintain the right mindset. Below are some suggestions we offer, based on our own experiences in helping enterprises evolve toward a high-performing, generative culture:

  • Develop and maintain the right mindset. This is about learning and how to create an environment for shared organizational learning -- not about just doing the practices, and certainly not about employing tools.
  • Make it your own. This means three things:
As you learn a new way of leading and working, you, and those you bring along with you on this journey, will explore, stretch, make some mistakes, get a lot right, learn, grow, and keep on learning.

– Don't look to copy other enterprises on their methods and practices, or to implement an expert-designed model. Study and learn from them, but then experiment and adapt to what works for you and your culture.

– Don't contract it out to a large consulting firm to expediently transform your organization or to implement new methodologies or practices for you. Your teams will feel that these methodologies (Lean, Agile, whatever) are being done to them. While your current processes may temporarily improve, your teams will not develop the confidence or capability to sustain, continue to improve, or to adapt and develop new processes and behaviors on their own.

Jez HumbleJez Humble

– Do develop your own coaches. Initially you may need to hire outside coaching to establish a solid foundation, but you must ultimately be the agent of your own change. Coaching depth is a key lever for sustaining and scaling.

  • You, too, need to change your way of work. Whether you are a senior leader, manager, or team member, lead by example. A generative culture starts with demonstrating new behaviors, not delegating them.
  • Practice discipline. It was not easy for [our example's] management team to record and reflect on how they spent their time or try new things they weren't initially comfortable with in front of the people who reported to them. Change takes discipline and courage.
  • Practice patience. Your current way of work took decades to entrench. It's going to take time to change actions and thought patterns until they become new habits and, eventually, your new culture.
  • Practice practice. You just have to try it: learn, succeed, fail, learn, adjust, repeat. Rhythm and routine, rhythm and routine, rhythm and routine ...
Nicole ForsgrenNicole Forsgren

As you learn a new way of leading and working, you, and those you bring along with you on this journey, will explore, stretch, make some mistakes, get a lot right, learn, grow, and keep on learning. You'll discover better and faster ways to engage, learn, and adapt to changing conditions. In doing so, you'll improve quality and speed in everything you do. You'll grow your own leaders, innovate, and outperform your competition. You'll more rapidly and effectively improve value for customers and the enterprise. As the research shows, you'll "have a measurable impact on an organization's profitability, productivity, and market share. These also have an impact on customer satisfaction, efficiency, and the ability to achieve organizational goals."

Download the remainder of the "Accelerate" excerpt.

This was last published in March 2018

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