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Human DevOps

Software Delivery Club Newsletter 2023-01-20

Published over 1 year ago • 2 min read

This has been a tough week for many in tech. Mass layoffs announced by Google, Facebook and Microsoft total over 30,000. Many commentators seem to think that Elon Musk's approach to his takeover has given carte blanche to tech leaders to swing the axe with the year-end review process. Also this is much in evidence further down the food chain, in smaller companies where a similar approach is being tried.

This is no doubt the start of global reckoning for technology firms (and those adjacent) and, while hard for those individuals involved, it's undoubtedly long overdue and long expected seeing as a lot of venture capital money has dried up over the last 18 months.

This is a nervous world. Companies will be looking to cut further in the coming recession and undoubtedly those left behind in these companies will come under more pressure. Therefore there has never been a better time to look beyond your current skillset and to see how you can fit in in this new world.

I've certainly spent some time soul searching this week. I had an interview for a role that (on paper) looked perfect for me. However, personalities win out when it comes to hiring and I find myself often disagreeing with the way that so-called DevOps or Cloud transformations are carried out. I've seen up close how hiring DevOps and Agile coaches is just a way to waste a lot of money without moving the needle much in either the cloud or "DevOps" journey. Why? Because you need to change your business model - not just apply bandaids.

I have had some great conversations with senior engineering executives about this, but the type of transformation they are hiring for usually isn't one which will be ultimately successful. You cannot hire DevOps and Agile coaches and call that a transformation - instead read a book like The Unicorn Project or listen to Dave Snowden talk about organisational transformation or read The Goal and then tell me that hiring your way out of trouble is going to help you?

No. In this world you'll need to be smarter than that. You need to be more empathic than that. You need to be more emphatic than that. You need to listen to what your customers want as well as what your engineers are telling you.

I'll be considering this more closely as I prepare for FOSDEM in Brussels in two week's time. I'm giving a talk called Rosegarden: A Slumbering Giant where I will discuss the legacy of this 20 year old+ piece of Open Source Software, but I'll also also be alluding to what it means to build software. Why we build any software and what it means to both our users and the developers. Sense and empathy will be ever needed traits in software development moving forward. If you can't join me in Belgium then you can always catch up later on the website.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

-- Richard


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Human DevOps

by Richard Bown

DevOps at is the heart of modern software systems. In my regular newsletter, I dive into the human factors that make successful engineering organizations where teams and platforms thrive at the heart of your socio-technical systems. From leadership to team setup, maximizing performance, tools and techniques.

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