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From tomorrow onwards put on the “wrong” sock first!

As the world around us keeps changing at an ever faster pace, things change. Or do they? Sure the leaves are no longer green but colored here in the Netherlands, autumn is here but the change of the seasons is the same.

As the world around us keeps changing at an ever faster pace, things change. Or do they?
Sure the leaves are no longer green but colored here in the Netherlands, autumn is here but the change of the seasons is the same.

In some places folks even speak about the end of the (credit/bank/trust/housing) crisis and the shift from stress of having people on the bench shifts to having no one on the bench, the stress level stays the same.

What I see around me at companies that embrace the Agile mindset is that things change. When they start working in scrum teams things change. This is also true for the companies that are making what is in my opinion the next step in Agile/Scrum, namely DevOps, things change.
But do they really?
Some companies get stuck because of lack of commitment from management, or lack of adaptability from the engineers/consultants. Software gets delivered too late, out of budget, with too many bugs and sadly it is not nearly what the customer envisioned. Does this remind you of something yet? Different but no change right?

Some IT vendors, or IT companies that get hired for certain expertise also struggle with the changing world around them. Some expertise gets outdated, other know-how is no longer valid or useable enough and they struggle to deliver that which the market is asking.
One of the things I see is that some of these IT companies live under the assumption that implementing DevOps, or having extensive knowledge about it has everything to do with hard-skills.
Make sure people know about all tools and of course get all the certifications. Obviously, there is nothing wrong in getting certified for certain tools like docker, selenium and puppet but these enable the solution, they are not THE solution.

This is where it gets tricky, because the transition to Agile and or (later) DevOps perhaps is mainly a change in mindset if you ask me. It is about doing things profoundly different. It also means looking at things differently, going from “failing” to “learning” in a blameless culture seems a small step but for some (both companies and employees) there are entire worlds between them.
Going from corrective management that gives directions to enabling managers that foster personal growth and encourage learning by doing (and thus failing) are often big steps.

Most companies, managers and employees struggle with the mindset part, changing how you do something or how you are supposed to react at certain things takes a lot of effort, courage and time. Time is essential and often not given enough. Imagine how long it would take to put on your “wrong” sock first in the morning, every day, and not having that feel wrong. My guess, that might be a while.

Catching mindset changes into learning courses or workshops is not easy, it is often not really specific or SMART. This in combination with the uncertainty of a changing market and a changing company makes transitions challenging. For some it is not concrete enough, they cannot  grasp it and in a changing world any uncertainty is a risk and usually we tend to avoid risks.

I think it starts with defining what is the right mindset, which behavior is desirable and how do we as a company define this. Let go, embrace change and uncertainty, fail early and fail often.

Hence the first Agile manifesto line: individuals and interactions above processes and tools. Make this concrete and your journey is already underway, happy trails!

Hans Lantink

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