Continuous Delivery is Mainstream—So What’s the Problem?
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A new Infinite Undo blog article provides some great examples from Google, Amazon and Facebook that demonstrate that “Continuous Delivery is mainstream.” Core practices and techniques that support DevOps and continuous delivery have been around for years. Not only is continuous delivery possible, but surveys are demonstrating that there is significant value in embracing continuous delivery. The 2013 DevOps Survey showed that high-performing organizations are delivering 30x more frequent releases than their peers and with much greater reliability—12x faster Mean Time to Recover (MTTR).
So What’s the Problem?
For every successful organization engaging in continuous delivery, there are many, many others that are struggling. Difficulties include buy-in from management or other teams who do not understand the value, inability to work across silos and lack of tooling (lack of support). These are standard problems in the area of leading change.
One Size Does not fit all
I’d like to suggest that the greatest challenge enterprises have is learning how to transform efficiently by embracing the process of continuous change, and with Agile, Lean and DevOps, the fundamental nature of each is continuous learning and continuous improvement. Enterprises are typically not starting from green field development. We’re often integrating systems of engagement with systems of record. We’re creating systems of interaction in complex environments with complex context. The effort required to change is enormous and does not happen overnight—even when executives and employees are all supportive of the effort to change (which is rarer than some change agents might like).
Successful Transformation is Collaborative
A single enterprise may be engaging in different types of development. In a single enterprise, we may have teams working on packaged software delivery, others engaging in web application development and others working on embedded product delivery with both hardware and software components. What works for one may not work for another for good reason. Forcing one set of practices, process and tools “top-down” is not likely to yield optimal results for the enterprise as a whole. Management and leadership in the 21st century require a collaborative approach with self-organizing teams. (See Steve Denning’s Leader’s Guide to Radical Management). Successful change and transformation is collaborative (top-down, bottom-up and side-to-side) and on-going.
Enabling Continuous Learning and Improvement is Key
There are often silos that exist across the different functional areas and across lines of business. In many organizations that are new to DevOps, we see that test, development, design, technical writing, operations and system administration all have different reporting structures within the same or different business units. Breaking down the silos is necessary not only to enable cross-functional teams, but to enable organizational learning. Too often, I encounter organizations in which some teams are completely unaware of the progress and lessons learned by other teams. This impedes the enterprise from exceling.
To excel as an enterprise—to optimize the whole—we have to understand not only what the technical practices of DevOps are, but how we can help our organization to make the necessary changes by embracing continuous learning and continuous improvement.
Continuous learning and improvement is a hot topic for the DevOps Community throughout 2014. There will continue to be many opportunities to participate in workgroups delivering whitepapers, book clubs engaging in animated discussions, webinars with Q&A to discuss lessons learned and so much more.
Join us for the first topic of 2014—a book club discussion group addressing “A Leader’s Guide to Radical Management.” Learn more about collaborative leadership for transformation and how you can help your team and organization become its best.