So we are here again. Business people who question the stuff that is presented to us. Requests for funding for projects we don’t understand and therefore don’t/can’t support. Things that don’t help answer our questions which are: how do we sell more? How do we sell to people we couldn’t sell to before? How do we reduce our costs? How do we manage the rules of the game?
So I spend my time trying to do all those things. It just so happens that Ranger4 (where I work) does devops. This has been for technical people but they have been too good at keeping all the secrets. Only recently have some of us worked out what it's all about and to our astonishment and relief, it has legs; it's common sense.
This got me thinking - DevOps is all about taking the development of a business idea into its realisation, doing that better, faster and safer and being able to measure the impact - a science/art traditionally viewed as a linear journey. I take that linear journey and transform it into a loop whilst including all the key bods in your organisation.
It involves working out where we are, where we want to be and how we are going to get there. That means people working together from all corners. Adversaries giving each other big old bear hugs. Unshaven faces bristling against each other for the greater good. All Kanbanning together! We all need greater collaboration. Testing earlier in the life of an idea, building quality in earlier, faster feedback, better measurements, celebrating success. No blame no shame. Agility of mind and body... the corporate executive as one. Expanding the ecosystem, automating trust. It's all in there.
I don’t expect any of you to have been in an obvious sales role but the fact you have read this far should tell you that all those hours as a kid playing monopoly at Christmas have turned you into a closet sales beast. All commercial and cut throat – hamming people into the ground for a deal. The thing is people like me do not get invited to your stand ups. We do not get invited to speak at events. We are not intelligent. We do not understand. The one but… and it's a big but - we do try and understand both sides of the argument. We know that you cannot make it up as you go along. This is sometimes called innovation. We know it also as chaos. Provoked sometimes by badly thought out directions issued by faceless people in commercial towers. “I want us to buy DevOps”… yeah right!
I need you and you need me.
Think of what you do. You run things, manage people, develop stuff, audit processes, test everyone. We all have one extra thing in common though. We all have to convince other people to come with us. This is what we do in sales. We have to identify a requirement or convince the ultimate beneficiaries that if they stopped doing something or started doing something they weren’t doing, life would be way more fantastic. We just need a promise that they will commit. We will manage the chaos, fill in the gaps and work with incomplete data.
We need evidence. We want to prove the argument with their own figures. We want information as to how it used to be, why that isn’t good enough and how much lovelier life would be if they changed various bits. This is DevOps. A single view of what is happening to avoid the pointy fingers. We need info on need, authorities, budget/buying policy, timescales, decision criteria and competition.
This is the need not the want or the "wouldn’t it be great if". There is a formula. I have my own and I know you have your own as well. The question here though is why? And more importantly, what happens if we don’t? You need to associate this to an amount of money. Do it now... at the beginning. If you can’t... ditch it. You are wasting your time.
So this is politics. Without letting them see you just check out the people around you. What would it be like to be them? What influence do they have on what you want to do? What's your boss like? What's his boss like? Are you the boss?
So this is the answer to the "what normally happens?" question. If we have always had negative answers in bringing up a topic or a request in a certain way then we need to seriously question how we are doing things. It's our fault if we get a “no”. We haven’t communicated properly. Know the personalities in the decision. Really think hard about where they might stand. It will help you create the collateral you will need to make the argument.
This is to do with when you make the argument and to a certain extent how. Timing is everything so don’t wear your best sandals!! Understand the "if we don’t do it now" consequences. Understand why, if it was you, you would do it. Many great ideas have been ignored because we have wanted them to happen now, without any real compelling reason. Be honest and brutal.
What does success look like? What are the key inhibitors? How will you measure the journey especially proving that any promises made at the beginning are seen at the end or at some point on the journey?
Know your friends and keep them close. Know your enemies and keep them... well, you know the rest. Also know who is neutral and see what you can do to inspire them into action.
This “sales” process is just like DevOps… trust and verify. Test all assumptions and for us that means money. If there isn’t a money reason to do something then don’t bother. It won’t get sign-off. If you are having trouble working out where the money is (without any references to Jerry Maguire here) you aren’t asking the right questions or you are speaking to the wrong people. Or you are speaking to the right people but who are hiding an agenda that can only be self serving… products not projects. Review regularly. Two heads are better that one. Include everyone. Be brutal with your decisions to invest time and resources to any given mission. Credibility is everything. Organise, motivate and execute.
This is stuff you do already. It's stuff I do. We are DevOps guerrillas. Together. Despite where we come from we do the same job. We enjoy changing the minds of our colleagues. Garnering support for the great win. Something we feel passionately about. It's a crusade. We have battles. Without the money reason to do it though we are wasting our time. Think about that whilst you are watching The Big Short for the third time.
If you want to discuss further, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.