Wednesday, 3 December 2014

DevOps Rugby

I spoke at IBM DeveloperConnect a while back talking about DevOps and how it relates to what I'm doing in my current company.

That isn't particularly interesting in itself.  The really interesting thing was at the end of the day where I was well and truly blown out of the water by the key note speaker.

The key note was held by Kyran Bracken MBE ( the World cup winning, ex-England rugby scrum half.

Firstly its impossible to compete against someone who has won the rugby world cup and captained the national team in your favourite sport.  In fact, I came away thinking I've never accomplished anything in comparison.  Soul destroying!

Kryan talked at length about the role of a manager vs. a leader, the importance of challenging convention and taking risks.

It was an hour speech so I won't document it all here.  However I thought the 3 things above are relevant to the world of DevOps.

Manager vs Leader
In a well functioning DevOps function, the team is empowered to make decisions.  You don't need a manager telling people what to do and how to do it.

However, you do need a leader.  Someone that wants to creates the future and inspires others to join him/her on a journey.

The leader welcomes risks because no one ever accomplished anything great by playing it safe.

Both Martin Johnson and Clive Woodward were leaders.  Martin because he inspired people and Clive because he challenged so many conventions...

Challenging convention
The only way to improve things is to take the status quo and change it/improve it.  You can't get better standing still.

The Leader facilitates these challenges and encourages them.  Its very healthy to look at what you do and critique it - even if it works really well as the current convention.

Don't rest on any laurels.

Before the World Cup England had a good team but in order to get that extra 1% from somewhere they needed to challenge long held conventions.

Most teams before mainly worked on training to improve their attack.  However, through statistical analysis found that teams with the best defense tend to win games.  They then spent a much greater proportion of time working on defense.

Traditionally, rugby player wore heavy jerseys like this:

They are really heavy when wet, don't let the body breathe and are easy to get a grip on them. The 2003 World Cup team were the first to champion the skin tight Lycra ones that everyone wears nowadays.

Taking risks
Trying new things can be seen to be risky.  However if you want to separate yourself from the competition you need to take risks.

Clive Woodward had the team training their eyes and working on other new techniques that may have been derided if they hadn't won the World Cup.

If your team doesn't take risks or is punished for every failure then they will never move forward.  Taking risks should be encouraged and not penalised if it doesn't work.  Learn from those failures and move forward.

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