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In a previous article, I talked about the culture of DevOps workplaces. In particular, I said, culture is how we deal with work, not how many beanbag chairs we have.
I'd like to return to that idea.
Workplace culture refers to how your organization deals with work -- not how swish and high tech your office is and not how many
What we mean when we say culture
I am a fan of looking at the etymology of words. It can give one insight into the original -- and sometimes true and unaltered -- meaning of the word. The etymology of culture is obviously of interest to this discussion. According to Merriam-Webster, the origin of the word has to do with agriculture, and its first known use dated back to 1510, "Middle English, cultivated land, cultivation."
In his article entitled "The Meanings of Culture," Arthur Berger explained that the word culture comes from the Latin cultus, which means care, as well as from the French
So when we talk about workplace culture, we have to ask: What behavior do we cultivate?
Let's compare the workplace culture of two hypothetical companies, looking at how behavior patterns are cultivated.
Company 1: Beanbags are cool
This company is doing DevOps because it's what everyone else is doing and apparently it helps you deliver faster and make more money.
This organization wants to attract the younger DevOps crowd, so it creates a colorful workspace with
On the surface, this seems like a desirable employer. But scratch the surface of this workplace culture, and you'll find a company with high staff turnover
Beanbags do not remedy a broken workplace culture.
Company 2: Workers first
The place may not be beautiful. There may or may not be free snacks. But what stands out about this company is how it deals with work and treats its people.
This company does DevOps because it truly understands the long-term benefits of fast feedback, continuous improvement, reducing wasteful work activities, automation
This organization goes about tough conversations with tact. Managers possess emotional intelligence. They know how to accept feedback from staff and how to discuss tough messages respectfully. Team members learn continuously from each other, and they share that knowledge
The net result is a staff that's happier and instinctively puts more effort and integrity into their work. Staff members stay with the company longer than a few months or a year.
DevOps culture in the workplace
Beanbags don't make a company good or bad, but superficial items will not improve your workplace culture. Those things won't help employees do their work. If you want to give your employees these toys, only do so in addition to improving and cultivating work behaviors.
Personally, I have fulfilling workdays when I'm productive and actually enjoy the work. I remember a really productive day when I head home -- preferably on time -- far more fondly than I do one when we did not get much done but played a lot of games.
Doing DevOps in this workplace makes me -- and likely other knowledge workers -- happier, more productive and more loyal.