Arriving at the new destination

The DevOps learning journey

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Each role in the organization encounters a unique set of learning needs in the DevOps transformation. This makes the learning journey, coupled with a growth mindset, more important than ever.

Given the slowdown of the economy and its impacts on the business world, organizations must adapt quickly to unexpectedly turbulent waters. DevOps answers the global call for organizational transformation. Even in remote work environments, DevOps organizations adapt self-organized teams that are enabled to make decisions and adapt quickly in choppy waters.

As we discussed in part 1 and part 2 of this blog, culture and leadership are key components of a DevOps transformation. But they are only components. How does an organization prepare its leaders and team members to successfully steer the ship? How does an organization ensure its culture is brought to life and accelerates in the right trajectory?

Situation

Let’s look at a client example. We were implementing our DevOps approach for a national financial services company that wanted to develop a DevOps and Agile learning curriculum for 35,000 associates. Our task was to provide a context-rich curriculum that supported just-in-time training for Agile teams (IT and business) and to develop a training program that established its internal training, coaching, and mentoring capabilities.

Approach

We understand that each role in the organization – whether a product manager, CEO or developer – encounters a unique set of learning needs in the DevOps transformation. There is no one curriculum-fits-all approach, but there are three key stages in the learning journey that we help each learner navigate:

  1. Awareness

In this stage, impacted employees and leaders must understand the DevOps mindset, processes, and the “why” behind the change. We accomplish this through tailoring roadshows as DevOps labs for each stakeholder, making sure that each member understands each step of their own DevOps and learning journey throughout the transformation. While a leader must become aware of the four roles of a transformational DevOps leader, developers must become aware of the benefits of breaking the silo between testing, security and operations. We built a comprehensive learning journey for all skill levels (beginner, proficient, advanced), organizational backgrounds (technical, non-technical), and hierarchy levels (leadership, team-level). The beginners experienced a blended learning approach with introductory webcasts, videos, and instructor-led classroom trainings. The proficient learners were required to read a set of books (e.g. The Phoenix Project, The DevOps Handbook, Chef, Docker, et al.). 

  1. Skill building

After all stakeholders understand the organizational need for DevOps, they must obtain the necessary mindset and technical skillset required to foster DevOps. We helped build this through interactive DevOps learning days that encourage learners to own their learning journey and practice their skills on site, but also virtually.

Leaders must focus on building their skills in coaching and communicating, while their teams focus on building the key competencies for the seven key roles in DevOps teams.[1] With an Instructor Lead Certification Program with the DevOps Institute we helped different team members in different roles to upskill. We built DevOps dojos for product owners, developers, testers, and operations to learn modern software practices. The teams spent two sprints in our experimentation lab with our experts to learn to build new pipelines. For example, developers learned testing, unit test, behavior-driven development, and ops team members learned to code. 

  1. Skill anchoring

Once all levels within the organization have developed the required foundational knowledge, we guide the organization’s leaders and its teams to achieve and sustain DevOps. The DevOps evangelist and cultural change leaders who have previously been coached in turn acted as coaches for the tribes in a flying-squad mode and supported the team to adhere to the processes, resulting in a leveraged effect on how culture is changed and formed. The technical teams that previously participated in DevOps dojos built their own dojo and scaled the methodology throughout the organization. This network must support and drive the organization’s development on each skill level in order to achieve continuous innovation and high performance in execution.

Results

This specific client was already past the awareness stage, so we focused our efforts on the skill building phase. Our approach was unique as we used a blended learning approach through experimentation and job shadowing in our DevOps dojos. This method proved especially useful in building virtual collaboration skills and enabling the organization to pivot toward cross-function collaboration. Virtual learning is also much more crucial for companies operating remotely now, as operating and scaling up virtual learning opportunities become vital in skill-building efforts.

Takeaway

Organizational change, just like change in our global sphere, is a constant, ongoing process. The status quo is constantly being shifted. Therefore, it’s most important for an organization undergoing DevOps to foster a learning and growth mindset that’s embedded into its practices and structures so that the organization adapts moving forward.

By integrating our capabilities in leadership and culture into a three-stage tailored learning journey, we were able to build and embed a learning and growth mindset into the organization’s practices, structures, and mindsets so that all members of the organization are supported in their journey of understanding, learning and finally living DevOps.

It’s our mission to help organizations navigate the digital sphere. Is your organization ready to embark on a DevOps transformation?

[1] Teams should consist of seven key roles: DevOps Evangelist, Change & Deployment Manager, Automation Architect, Pipeline Architect, Quality Assurance Professional, Security Engineer, and Cultural Change Leader


Co-author

Amy Sit

Senior Consultant

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