Professional Courage

Diving board 2 from Claire Gillman
“Diving board 2” by Claire Gillman is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original

I’ve been thinking about the roles we play as professionals and leaders. A big part of our job is to make decisions on courses of action to address problems or opportunities facing our teams or our organization. Those decisions are often met with resistance, doubt, disagreement, or even outright hostility. In those situations, we’re faced with a choice: cave to the pressure and fall back to the relative safety of our status quo, or press on in the face of opposition. Continue reading

DC Continuous Delivery Presentation Resources

I delivered a presentation entitled “Tactics To Kickstart Your Journey Toward Continuous Delivery” to an awesome group of attendees at the DC Continuous Delivery meetup on August 25, 2015. The back-and-forth was fantastic! That’s probably why I kept going for 90 minutes (sorry if you attended and had plans I impinged on). As a follow-up, I wanted to provide some resources I mentioned during my talk.

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Empathy: The DevOps Secret Weapon

Over the last year or two, I have often heard a word used in the DevOps community not usually uttered in IT circles. In fact, outside of the psychology and counseling communities, I don’t hear the word much at all. That word is “empathy”. And the more I learn about DevOps, the more I believe empathy may be the single best tool there is for building bridges and collaboration across boundaries — job #1 when considering a move to DevOps. Using empathy is better than any process, organizational redesign, or automation initiative. Empathy has tremendous power to improve any relationship that matters to you — personal and professional. Whether you’re Dev working with Ops, Ops working with Dev, IT with “the business”, or a parent with your child, everything seems to work better with a healthy dose of empathy thrown into the mix.
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3 Tips When You’re Struggling With DevOps

You’ve started down the road of a DevOps transformation, but you’re struggling on the journey. You might not be improving the performance of your teams and organization like you had hoped. You’re probably wondering why and, more importantly, how to get back on track. DevOps transformations are hard. If they were easy, everybody would have already gone through them.

Here are a few tips you can use to get things moving more quickly in the right direction.
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3 Risks of Not Enough Time or Money for DevOps Transformations

The DevOps movement is taking off and many organizations are embarking on their own DevOps transformation. Just look at the talks from the DevOps Enterprise Summit and the latest State of DevOps Report for evidence of this. I’ve had people ask me, “What happens if I don’t devote enough time and money to our DevOps transformation?” Great question. We’re asked to justify budgets and priorities all the time so we need to have good answers. I’ll give you a few answers that might resonate with you.

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6 Principles for Consulting Teams

I’ve worked on a lot of consulting teams over my career. Many of them have been mixed teams including our employees, other contractors, and even client staff. Everyone comes with different backgrounds, perspectives, and personalities and it’s important to get everyone on the team pulling in the same direction to get the best results. You’ve probably remember times when a team wasn’t clicking either within itself or with the client. It’s not fun. It’s feels bumpy. It takes effort. It’s draining. And you feel things could be so much better.

One tool I’ve used to orient teams and get alignment is a set of team operating principles. These principles aren’t rules, per se — they define the basics for our attitudes and outlook and guide our actions. I’d much rather have a few principles that can be applied by intelligent, well-meaning people in a variety of situations than a ton of rules covering every conceivable situation.
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Using a New IT Provider: Are You Really Doing It Wrong?

A friend of mine in a professional group we’re in together asked me a question recently. He’s not in the IT field so he has a perspective I really appreciate. He gave voice to what a lot of companies out there might be thinking, “Why does every new IT provider I use tell me our old IT provider did it all wrong?” As someone leading a company that does various kinds of IT assessments, this was an eye-opener for me. Knowing my friend’s perspective, maybe we can be a little more sensitive to it in the future when we’re doing an assessment for a new client. Let me give some reasons why my friend might have this perspective.
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5 Nuggets for Managing Big IT Changes

I’ve gleaned a lot of “nuggets” of wisdom about how I think IT should be done from my professional experiences over the years. These nuggets range over a variety of topics — people, communication, approaches, strategy, tactics. They never have anything to do with a specific technology or technique. Many nuggets have been picked up because I’ve observed things that worked. Many others have been picked up because I’ve observed things that haven’t.

Here are five of the nuggets I’ve found really helpful to managing IT, particularly when you’re doing something meaningful (a.k.a, hard, complex, big, visible, strategic). But first, two quick caveats. One, these nuggets have nuances. They aren’t meant to be applied in every situation or even the same way in different situations. Their usefulness is in provoking questions. Second, common sense applies. I’m not dogmatic with these and I don’t expect anyone else to be, either. If they help you in certain situations, great. If they don’t, then don’t use them. In all cases, use your big, powerful brain.
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