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“Culture” Comes With a Clash

October 13, 2014 - Business Psychology, Marketing - , ,
By: Chris Riley

When the topic of changing company culture comes up, oftentimes there is significant resistance—especially in older companies. Employees are used to the way they do things, and they like it that way. But, for example, the speed with which software needs to be released requires development and operations to work together seamlessly. So when the CEO reads studies like this and learns how instituting DevOps practices will improve performance, culture change must happen whether you like it or not!


Not Everyone Embraces Corporate Culture

Most of the time when we hear about corporate culture it’s in relation to the “cool kids,” startups and younger companies like Google and Zappos. The latter, for example, puts such an emphasis on culture that it’s embedded in everything they do from customer service to hiring. And Google’s famous “employees first” attitude is well known in business circles. But these companies embedded their corporate cultures from the ground up and relentlessly support it as they move forward.

For older companies the concept of “culture” can be a dirty word. Of course, they may not realize that a corporate culture will develop regardless. And without guidance, this culture will grow organically using the path of least resistance—not necessarily the most efficient, profitable path. Plus, this is a good way for a company to get trapped in process addiction!

Within a company, IT in particular can be resistant to changing culture, especially when it comes to putting DevOps practices into place. Because they work so differently, with development more idea based and operations more process focused, conflict inevitably develops. If that conflict is deeply entrenched, it can be difficult to disrupt and re-orient.


Finding a Middle Ground

In today’s economy it’s vital that development and operations work together in harmony, and DevOps is all about reconciling the conflict between these two teams. Developed as a way of doing business that connects the initial product idea to the final product, DevOps has seen a lot of success in improving performance across the board. By unifying the creators and the implementers in an environment of collaboration and shared responsibility, the two teams learn from each and work together for a common purpose.


Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling. In addition to being a research analyst, he is an O’Reilly author, regular speaker, and subject matter expert in the areas of DevOps strategy and culture. Chris believes the biggest challenges faced in the tech market are not tools, but rather people and planning.

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