DevOps and the Misalignment of Incentives

Every time I hear a new buzz word used to describe crap that’s been going on for decades1 it makes me want to hit someone in the face with a skillet. I’d toss DevOps in that category.

DevOps according to wikipedia:

devops is an emerging set of principles, methods and practices for communication, collaboration and integration between software development (application/software engineering) and IT operations (systems administration/infrastructure) professionals.
Skillet. Face.

That aside, there’s a really good talk I stumbled across on the Zenoss blog called DevOps Culture Hacks - Infecting your Boss & your Business with Awesome by Jesse Robbins.

What I found most interesting is the idea of the misalignment of incentives being the root cause of conflict between IT (what he terms operations) and its customers. Customers of IT get value by delivering new products/features/services. In other words, customers get value through change. IT gets value by minimizing downtime, and the easiest way to do that is by reducing change.

What do you get when your value comes from reducing change?

  • Process reviews
  • Change control reviews
  • Deployment freezes
  • More standards, committees, and control boards
Ring any bells?

It’s a good talk and it presents a different perspective on a conflict that’s been going on since the days of punch cards and vacuum tubes. Breaking it down to misalignment of incentives depersonalizes the conflict and makes solutions easier to see. Part of the solution is knocking down silos so common incentives are shared throughout the organization.

None of that makes me want to say DevOps though. camelCase should only be used when coding.

1 Hello geodesign.