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Human DevOps

by Richard Bown

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 - 9th June 2024 - The Humble Architect

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...

8 days ago • 1 min read

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...

15 days ago • 1 min read

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...

22 days ago • 1 min read

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...

29 days ago • 1 min read

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...

about 1 month ago • 1 min read

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...

about 1 month ago • 1 min read

When you turn up to work you have a choice. Your choice is to enjoy the work that's put in front of you or to fight the work. If you fight the work, then be sure you're up to the fight. Some weeks, you're just not in the shape to do the fight, so then leave it. Here's the always-interesting John Cutler talking to Hazel Weakly about software engineering. My favourite quote from Hazel: "Local choices move everything forward in the right direction. Can I give [people] the ability to make...

about 2 months ago • 1 min read

Is it just me, or is April turning out to be a complete stinker? The rain hasn't stopped, it's cold, and it feels more like October or November than it does at the start of spring. This feeling appears to be pervading work at the moment, too—I sense frustration bubbling under at every turn. We need some warm sunshine and a few days off before heading back to the grind. I have a short trip coming up and a few things to look forward to not least the just-announced Fast Flow Conference in London...

about 2 months ago • 1 min read

It's notable how trends take a long time to get moving, and suddenly, they seem everywhere. For the last month or so, I've been working for the Team Topologies organisation, helping them gather some knowledge about applying their ideas and techniques across the industry. I've been talking to agile and DevOps practitioners, consultants, and coaches, people who are using techniques in organisations to make them more humane, to make them more pleasant places to work, and to improve the flow of...

2 months ago • 2 min read

A couple of weeks ago, I ran the Amstelveen Marathon in support of Suicide Prevention NL. It's the first marathon I've attempted in over 12 years and my fifth overall. My fastest time ever was 3 hours 46 minutes. This time, I hoped to complete it in under 4 hours 30 minutes. I figured that with decent training, including some strength training, I'd be able to manage this okay. However, I really learned an important lesson on the day. I eventually completed it in an undistinguished time of 4...

3 months ago • 2 min read
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