How to be a stronger DevOps leader: 9 tips

How to be a stronger DevOps leader: 9 tips

Want to lead your DevOps team to new heights? IT leaders and DevOps experts share steps to take in the realms of talent, measurement, vision, and IT culture

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6. Don't let alignment goals delay DevOps

Ben Grinnell, managing director, North Highland: "Don’t invest time up-front trying to get alignment on a hypothesis at the senior levels. You will never get there. Start implementing on the ground, and do the alignment in parallel as you over communicate the successes and examples of progress. Pick activities that will give you these examples early on.

Examples need to be:

  1. Easy for senior leaders to understand
  2. Significant enough for them to notice
  3. Relevant enough for them to easily translate to a much bigger area of the business.


The other thing that’s essential is a vision or North Star. Define the direction of travel, don’t get into the detail of a destination and time – it will take too long to get agreement. It’s more important to start moving with something that is easily understood and agreed upon. That then allows leadership to assess how something that might seem like lots of fragmented initiatives are working together to move the organization in the right direction."

7. Tap into the energy of the organization

Jonathan Smart, head of ways of working, Barclays: "Aiki: Use the energy of the organization to drive the change you want to see. Start with the natural champions. Rewrite internal standards and processes. Internal audits are your friend."

8. Beware of innovation teams

Anders Wallgren, CTO, Electric Cloud: "Beware of creating 'innovation teams' for the sake of innovation through DevOps. Oftentimes, this creates entitled groups of people who are actually disconnected from the rest of your organization, and those people may be quite limited in their ability to create organizational value. Those who are most willing and able to adapt to change create the transformation for others to follow.

Therefore, my recommendations for leaders are to:

  1. Design your organization so that your product, development, and IT Ops teams share ownership and responsibility of the software delivery pipeline. Get them to work together to treat your pipeline like a product.
  2. Create an environment where your teams can easily collect data on specific metrics and KPIs for delivery performance. Capture signals between teams and workflow bottlenecks, and focus on the value and quality of what you are delivering.
  3. Continuously mandate that teams scrutinize their value streams in order to incrementally improve over time. Set short-term goals for them to tackle the biggest bottlenecks first.
  4. Hire talent and build a culture across the entire organization with one key mindset: continuously disrupt the organization before our competition does."

9. Remember, "continuous" is a keyword

Eran Kinsbruner, director, author, lead software evangelist, Perfecto: "Remember, DevOps means having a fully automated workflow to deliver software. This cannot happen without mature automation that works. In that regards, having the proper flow between the three Cs – Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Testing (CT), and Continuous Delivery (CD) is essential. The tip for success here is to have a mature CT that can glue the development CI process with the software delivery (CD) per each code change, daily. (Read our related article: DevOps success: Why continuous is a keyword. )

[ Can you tell when someone just talks a good DevOps game? Read also: How to spot a DevOps faker. ] 

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