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Speeding up the Wrong Work: DevOps Maturity in Business Decisions

Karl Smith


DevOps Business Decisions

Karl Smith, the founder and CEO of Paradigm Interactions, considers the value of DevOps in a company without a robust and mature decision making process.

It’s a fact that common sense is not that common and is often not a factor, except in reflection after the fact.

If we could simply learn from each other rather than rely upon a uniqueness agenda, businesses would stop creating the same failure points with new language and excuses around it.

Digital is a form of communication with customers, where technology is the mechanism

Accepting that digital and its underwriting technologies are the common parlance of success in our world, would greatly decrease business fostered failure. Additionally, if business would participate in digital and technology joining the team, then the choice of work would get considerably better.

After all its impossible to read people’s minds to understand their intent let alone their exact need, but if people are all in it together they work at being understood and understanding in a way that is foreign to hierarchical businesses.

Conspicuous success never belongs to one person or a figurehead, but is the culmination of many people flowing and moving together over a problem or outcome statement. The business driver for success through innovation in existing capabilities, the desire to drive engagement and in many ways validation of existence, create a huge level of waste.

There are now other ways to do things that add value to the company and validate its purpose and more importantly its people. DevOps, having started in engineering, is spreading from the tactical into the strategic. However, without a bottom to top transformation in business values, DevOps will only deliver the wrong work quicker.

Businesses need quality not quantity of ideas

What’s essential in Business is quality not quantity of ideas. Anyone can come up with an idea, but an idea that meets not just one but several outcomes for several actors (business, shareholders, regulators, customers etc.) holds quality at its core.

These are the ideas that deliver conspicuous success, but they don’t arrive fully formed and ready to go, they need a cross organisation effort to refine them. The quality of ideas should be able to be challenged by any part of a business and still go forward on their merit – not the position of the originator.

Those that can’t? Well they need to be worked through, modelled combined with other ideas and sometimes placed on hold. The critical path is to only commit design and production capability that is the right work at the right time.

Thinking first, not Digital first

The people doing the thinking around ideas should be the people who can add value to them, by refining them, by challenging them, by modelling them as outcomes (without solutions or delivery mechanisms), by taking them to targeted customers to test the ideas. In this way ideas can be checked to see that they are the right ones, only then can they be converted into increments of minimum viable experience (MVE).

Service Design, not Design Thinking

Only by having ideas added to and evaluated by people who can implement and understand their impact at the coal face, can ideas really be understood and prioritised.

The final barrier to success is always ego, even putting the whole capability of an organisation into defining, refining and producing the work, will only be effective if leadership will trust their own hiring and release products and services to the market without interfering with them.

Delivering the minimum viable experience (MVE) will ensure customers and colleagues are not confused about the business intent and the communication remains “here’s something useful.” Until the work is fully understood and derived from the right ideas at the right time Businesses will continue to expose their lack of maturity and DevOps will simply speed up the delivery of the wrong work.

Karl Smith

CEO, EVP, Consulting Director of Transformation & Change

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