It’s time for leadership to own DevOps

While enterprises are not immune to the pressures of digital transformation, leaders must adapt their business strategies to live in a constantly evolving and digitally focused business landscape.

The changing dynamics of the IT world is churning out new iterations and innovation to make lives of enterprises and consumers smarter, better and efficient. Today, software innovation is driving business growth – faster the developers deliver on the next wave of software innovation, faster the business can deliver customer value. This in turn helps bring in new revenue streams online and respond to market dynamics effectively.

DevOps has become more than a trend now – it’s a survival imperative for enterprises. A plethora of innovations are blooming under the umbrella of DevOps and the new decade has lots to bring forward for its development. While enterprises are not immune to the pressures of digital transformation, leaders must adapt their business strategies to live in a constantly evolving and digitally focused business landscape. They must develop capabilities to create and deliver new customer value, faster than their competitors. Therefore, Enterprise DevOps will be the engine of change that will drive new capabilities that digital transformation demands.

Many IT organizations today, start their DevOps journey by implementing automation and tools. The reason behind this is to curb hurdles while trying to scale DevOps practices across organizations. Their journey starts to take a detour as they struggle with organizational boundaries, unwieldy system-wide processes, and cultural resistance to change. Implementation of DevOps requires transforming the system and this change can be driven only when the management steps in. Therefore, leadership commitment and ownership is extremely important.

There are many reasons why leadership can be reluctant to change – two very different risks that executives usually face 1) sinking the ship – when leadership makes a bold move that is not successful at times, 2) missing the boat – when leadership fails to make a bold move that likely would have succeeded. Even in the best of times, executives are generally concerned more about sinking the ship rather than missing the boat. This resistance to change is difficult to overcome. However, organizational agility and ability to adapt to changes in the marketplace is a core competency rather than an option. This means that if you miss the boat with DevOps in this era of digitisation, you may not succeed.

How to align DevOps transformation?

To align better through the DevOps transformation, leaders must dive into the following four pillars of transformational leadership:

Create a vision of the future – Leaders should inspire followers and align them to a common mission. Inspirational motivation is created by establishing a clear vision and direction for an organization. DevOps transformation should be aligned to the overall objectives of a business. For example, if the aim is to drive success through new business innovation, then the direction for IT is to create more capacity for innovation and build that into the organization’s DevOps practices.

Manage delivery of the vision – Turning vision into reality can only be accomplished through hard work. Leaders must put in extra efforts in order to be successful. As a role model for the organization, transformation leaders need to understand 1) how work is being done, 2) any impediments to getting work done, and 3) how DevOps practices can solve these problems.

Build trust-based relationships with people – Transformational leaders must express genuine concern and care for their workforce. This will help build respect and trust amongst each other that will secure the company’s future. Without engaging on a personal level, it is really hard to have a full understanding of any business. Therefore, leaders must take a personal level approach.

Similarly, DevOps is about creating high performance teams. Leaders need to understand personal goals and aspirations of the leadership teams and provide personal recognition along with honest feedback for further growth and learning.

Motivate people to deliver on vision – A leader must challenge others to perform at a higher level. By encouraging teams to challenge the status quo and promote innovative thinking, leaders can decentralize decision making in order to help teams operate independently. It will open a window for them to explore new ways of working. Moreover, it will create an engine for continuous improvement and learning within the organization, which is extremely important for DevOps to thrive.

Transformational leadership behavior brings a direct and positive influence on DevOps journey. It enables necessary practices that not only correlates with high performance, but also supports effective communication and collaboration between team members. Additionally, transformation leadership aligns well with agile practices – it increases employee engagement quotient and leads to positive employee attitudes. This happens especially when in an environment of high organizational change. Ultimately, it is the leadership who determines success or failure of a company’s DevOps journey. Are your leaders on board?

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