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Human DevOps

DevOps at is the heart of modern software systems. In my regular newsletter, I dive into the human factors that make successful engineering organizations where teams and platforms thrive at the heart of your socio-technical systems. From leadership to team setup, maximizing performance, tools and techniques.

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The Human DevOps - 15th July 2024 - Rain Clouds

It has not by any means been a good summer in the Netherlands. It's been very wet and the last few days have also been extremely windy. At work, on the streets and on the roads, there is a tension. I try to take the time to go out for a lunchtime walk at least a couple of times a week and took this photo last week during a gap in the rain. The Middelpolder And we head towards the summer break, make sure to take some time to relax before you face the serious business of relaxation. I'm taking...

I lived in London in 1997 when the Tony Blair "New Labour" government swept into power. It was a time of great hope and audacity. It felt like "we" could do anything, but then I was 25 years old and living in London, and indeed, anything did, in fact, feel possible because I was at the dawn of my career without responsibilities or the weight of history behind my thoughts and actions. So perhaps older and wiser, we are here. The UK has been (according to some) bitten down by 14 years of Tory...

Do you always want more? More opportunities, more recognition for your work, more advancement? Sometimes, it's just knowing more, solving problems, and being right. What do we do to ourselves as software engineers and programmers that makes us want to do more all the time? We want to know more, write more, read more and perhaps even present more. I was interacting with someone on LinkedIn this Friday, and it made me reflect on what I am doing now compared to what I did a year ago. A year ago,...

We've spent trillions of dollars trying to digitally transform business, but for the most part, we are still building poor-quality software systems. We've not learnt from our past mistakes. Instead, we think that by bolting on more and more systems, toolkits and frameworks, we can 'solve' how to build great and integrate software. DevOps and CI/CD should enable a faster flow of quality software, but our implementations are often lacking. They pay lip service to the tools and processes but...

It's good to recognise our changing preferences as we move through the world of software engineering and use those moments to choose the right tool for the job. Sometimes we want to create, sometimes we want to retrench - perhaps refactor something, improve something, add more tests, change our architecture either subtly or fundamentally. In the world of SaaS and open source, we have more than just language, cloud or platform choices. We have tool choices which can mean that we do less...

I have an emotional reaction to peanut butter that is so strong, it’s actually physical. I feel physically sick getting it on me, cleaning it off a surface, or even contemplating eating it. Why? A story. When I was seven, my parents sent me to a preparatory school. During the weekdays, I would board—I would stay over—in a dormitory with other kids around my age. I would come home on Friday night and then leave again for school on Sunday afternoon. I dreaded it. At least, to begin with, I...

I'm sitting on the sidelines watching another big digital transformation roll into town. Those who have tried this before before know that big digital transformations don't work, so we're better not calling them that. Instead, these days we talk about cultural change. Realistically though this means the same thing. How can you recognise one happening in your firm? Well, suddenly there are a lot of meetings, and workshops looking backwards and training looking forwards. Some people might call...

Software development is mentally and emotionally challenging work. Studies reveal that around 50% of developer time is spent on maintenance or wasted in workplace inefficiency. How can we, as individuals, enjoy our work and stay productive and healthy while positively influencing efficiency, quality and customer value? This question has bothered me throughout my career, and I'm finally on a path to finding some practical answers. As I delve into this topic, I'm struck by the profound...

Sometimes you need to give a little to get a little. Sometimes you need to ask a lot more from your employer than you might think is fair. But what's the alternative? Staying in a job just because you are scared of what's next? Staying in a job that is making you miserable? While we might fear our jobs will be taken over by AI, or we'll be left behind, or we'll never get enough experience to be taken seriously, just remember, everyone else is doubting as much as you are. Keep balanced, keep...

It's the start of the party season in the Netherlands. Last weekend started with King's Day and it's Bevrijding's Dag today: liberation day. This marks the start of the summer period and it also marks the start of an important personal milestone. I've been writing a novel about software development and humans since the end of last year, and May 1st marked the end of the first draft. I was truly inspired after reading the Unicorn Project, and while I loved the Five Ideals it presented, I...