DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 — Day Two — Project To Product Unleashed
The high engagement and energy of Day One of DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 — ending with our CEO, Mik Kersten, bringing down the house with his keynote presentation on the Flow Framework™– continued into Day Two of the conference. Today was a high-octane affair with an eclectic mix of fascinating insights, stories and actionable takeaways. But even as the legendary Dr. Steven Spear brought proceedings to an entertaining and edifying close, there was still more action to come; Mik’s book, Project To Product, was finally unveiled to the world to great fanfare.
There was a visible and audible buzz across DOES 2018 today ahead of the book launch and the endless possibilities of the Flow Framework and what it could mean for businesses in the Age of Software. Lucky attendees were able to get their hands on a signed book tonight during the official launch in the Chelsea Foyer at the opulent The Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas.
Tasktop’s Dominica DeGrandis also drew large crowds as they sought signed copies of her book Making Work Visible, a piece of work that aligns perfectly with the ideas and vision of Project To Product.
Day Two — People Drive Change
Before Dr. Topo Pal and Jamie Specter from Capital One took to the main stage, Gene Kim spoke of the “university of problems” that IT organizations face, and how as a community it is up to us to drive change and create a movement. Citing music legend Brian Eno’s concept of “scenius” — the idea that “genius” and great new developments are the result of an intellectual community that are involved in a scene. A rallying cry of sorts, Gene encouraged business leaders to not be daunted by R&D and technology. He emboldened them to channel the same drive and intuition that has brought them success across all other areas of the business.
One suspects that Gene had the next presenters in mind. “Six years ago, Capital One’s software delivery was mostly outsourced, we were doing waterfall, using manual processes and that was slowing us down. Now through a product-centric approach, we are one of the world’s largest digital banks,” explained Topo. Capital One’s accomplishments are not just driven by automation, cloud and new-fangled tech and ideas, but by trusting development teams, giving them autonomy and, as Jamie stressed, being legally sound and secure — “employees don’t want to work with companies that don’t have a reputation for good risk management.”
Product-thinking was ubiquitous throughout Day Two’s sessions. It appears that the Project To Product movement is gathering pace, with a diverse cross-section of the intellectual community doing their bit for the cause. “It sucks when you build a bad product,” admitted a rueful Levi Geinert, Director of Engineering at Target. His co-speaker Lucas Rettigwent, Principal Product Owner, went one step further, “Building the wrong thing is a nightmare.” The major retailer’s solution? “Let your developers do their thing, do what they’re good at, and oversee healthy dialogue between them and your product teams to empower both sides.” As an example of empowering their teams, Dan Cundiff, a Principle Engineer, explained how Target uses pull request workflow. This process allows their engineers to understand what tools are being used across the organization when collaborating on products, galvanizing innovation.
“Agile, lean, flow, fast feedback…a lot of focus has been applied to the “Dev” side of “DevOps”, but what about “Ops”?,” mused Damon Edwards from Rundeck. “When was the last intellectual movement for Ops?” The question was rhetorical. Without missing a beat he responded, “ITIL!” While the crowd laughed, it was hard to argue with Damon’s concerns. He underlined a dire need to find a balance, highlighting that Ops are being squeezed from both the digital side and The Business. “The digital side is saying GO GO GO!, while the business side is concerned with security and breaching and are saying keep us out of the news!”. As he walked attendees through Netflix and Google’s continuously successful models, he pleaded with those in the room to think about what happens after a product has been built and to remove silos between collaborators. “Repeat after me: deployment is not a goal! There’s a lot of life after deployment.”
If there’s one organization that proactively does think about what happens both before and after deployment, it’s the BMW Group. As Rene Te-Strote explained in his session with Tasktop’s “VSM Yoda” Carmen DeArdo, “We’re not only an automobile company.” From digital services like DriveNow, ReachNow, ParkMobile and beyond, BMW possesses a jaw-dropping worldwide network of people — and a tremendous amount of data to contend with. “That’s a lot of software. Our products are basically moving computers. We simply have to deliver value quickly. It’s why our Agile transformation continues to be our biggest challenge”.
The BMW Group, as you will have seen from the i8 model that was in the conference lobby, uses Tasktop to connect all their huge software delivery supply chain, including their global partners, to support this massive transformational undertaking. “You have to visualize the flow of value,” expanded Carmen. “That’s the basis of the Flow Framework — to establish what the goal is, what’s the benefit of work activities, what the product is going to be, why you’re building it and how work will flow to optimize time to value. Only then do you think about the solution.” To learn more about the work of Tasktop and BMW, read Mik’s article The end of the manufacturing line analogy, (as well as buying Project To Product, which centres around Mik’s journey with Rene at BMW Group’s state-of-the-art facility in Leipzig).
Want a more hands-on education? Register for the second iteration of Tasktop’s own conference, Tasktop Connect, which takes place in Washington, DC (December 6).
Make Work Visible!
If the audience had questions about flow, Tasktop’s Dominica DeGrandis had the answers. “Building software is hard. But communication across teams is the hardest thing we do. We must fix fragmented hand-offs because they’ll cost you — especially with work becoming more complex and specialized. If there’s 10k people in engineering, that’s a lot of tools that aren’t talking, and that’s a big problem. To start, just get a pen and a blank sheet — I call it the value stream canvas — and begin mapping how work flows and what impedes it. Start with one or two hand-offs in key areas, connect the dots, and find your bottlenecks.” If you want to learn more about flow and flow metrics, check out Dominica’s Flow 101 Workshop.
The human factor in accelerating the business value of IT was also a recurring theme. “There is no digital transformation without people, and giving people excesses that they aren’t ready for can be harmful,” riffed Andrew Clay Shafer, Senior Director of Technology at Pivotal. “Accomplishing goals keep you motivated. Digital transformation isn’t an event — it’s a progressive accumulation of habits.” He warned the audience about getting caught up in buzzwords and popular practices. “You’re Agile? Then why you so bad at software? The best methodology is smart people working together.”
This view was backed up by both Dr. Steve Mayner and Nevine White in their respective sessions. “Transformational leadership can be learned, and work better than specific change management practices,” explained Steve in his talk Learning To Be A Transformative Leader. In her breakout session, Nevine agreed that it’s humans that create progress. “You need to get finance and IT in the room together. We don’t always understand what IT is saying — sometimes it’s like they’re speaking Greek! But you can get there by tearing down that language barrier.
“Sure, IT got frustrated trying to explain their vision on whiteboards — what I called “scary pictures” — but eventually we got there. Once we understood how IT wanted to become more dynamic, release faster, and be nimbler, and could see the business value it would create, we were able to translate that into a business context for our executives.” Jonathan Smart, formerly of Barclays, was on the same page, saying concepts like Agile “were forcing rigid practices on people and organizations instead of focusing on flow, values and outcomes.”
Focusing on flow, value and outcomes was something that both Jez Humble and Dr. Nicole Forsgren, and Steven Spear, touched upon during their respective closing session. Spear: “Learning is easy; getting smarter faster is driven by being able to find faults in our thinking faster.”
Humble and Forsgren substantiated what Spear was saying by presenting findings from their invaluable research from The State of DevOps Report. High-performing organizations were deploying 46x faster, with lead times that were 2,555x faster, with mean time to recover times that were 2,604x faster, and a 7x lower change failure rate. Or in the words of Jonathan Smart, “faster, better, safer”.