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Matthias Marschall is a software engineer "Made in Germany". His four children make sure that he feels comfortable in lively environments, and stays in control of chaotic situations. A lean and agile engineering lead, he's passionate about continuous delivery, infrastructure automation, and all things DevOps. Matthias is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 38 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

How Badly Set Goals Create a Tug-of-War in Your DevOps Organization

04.11.2013
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A rope. Eight people on either side. “Pull!” And then it begins: both parties are pulling in their own direction. A tug-of-war has started.

Imagine your developers and sysadmins as those two parties starting that tug-of-war

Each group has different goals. And having different goals leads to each party pulling in another direction. How can this happen and what to do about it?

In most organizations every employee has a set of personal goals

They usually bubble down all the way from the CEO (who get’s his goals from the board) via the middle management down to each and every developer and sysadmin. In most organizations development and system operations are separate departments and have separate managers. Both might report to the same C-level executive but both will get a different set of goals.

Those goals seem to make sense from the point of view of the C-level executive

But things get out of control when goals are passed down the hierarchy. What began as a nicely orchestrated company roadmap, entangles into a distorted mess of misaligned, even conflicting goals for the teams responsible for execution.

The mess thickens faster than you’d imagine

Like when playing Telephone (aka Chinese whispers), the original intentions are changed after filtering down through a few levels in the hierarchy. Just one or two levels are enough to end up with conflicting goals.

Conflicting goals lead to a tug-of-war

To avoid such a tug-of-war you need to set coherent goals. The most important step towards coherent goals is the harmonization of goals for all team members involved in a business process. With everyone finally pulling in the same direction, you can create an aligned DevOps organization.

You can harmonize goals by discussing them openly across the teams

Letting teams play an important role in defining goals makes sure that everyone understands and embraces the strategic business goals defined by top management.

Understanding the strategic business objectives helps to create harmonized goals

Once everyone understands and embraces the strategic business objectives, you have a harmonized set of coherent and realistic team goals. You’ll avoid that tug-of-war and your departments will collaborate naturally. You’ll experience the dawn of a real DevOps culture.

Published at DZone with permission of Matthias Marschall, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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