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Human DevOps

by Richard Bown

Join my newsletter for regular views and news about doing effective, essential human DevOps engineering. I dive into the human factors that make successful DevOps organizations and the teams and platforms at the heart of your socio-technical systems. From leadership to team setup, maximizing performance, tools and techniques.

Featured Post

Friday 1st March - Learning to say No is Hard

Yesterday, someone got me on a call and was trying to force me something to do something that I didn't want to do. I told them this wasn't in line with how our team worked. I also told them that wasn't something that I felt comfortable doing.Then I had to repeat myself, three times.They were trying to gain a shortcut, perhaps make themselves look important, I really have no idea. I had to give them the feedback that I felt "hijacked" and that I would need to talk to my boss about it. Then...

1 day ago • 1 min read

If you've followed the story of Maxine Chambers in the Unicorn Project, then you know it's not a simple "10x engineer saves the day" engineering tale of derring-do. It's a struggle; it's hard for Maxine. Her story starts with an effective demotion because she's taken the blame (or been pinned) for an outage. The rest of the book explores the toxic culture at the fictional company Parts Unlimited. We learn about the people, the places, the feelings and that elusive thing 'culture' that the...

22 days ago • 1 min read

It's February. So, what's going on with your project? What's happening in your organisation? Are people happy? Are improvements being made? Over the last few weeks, I had a few thoughts about improving from the ground up. I work day-to-day as a DevOps engineer, and from there, I can shape interactions we have as a team with other teams and also what products (or platforms) we offer. I feel lucky to have this role as I get to work with many developers with different challenges in multiple...

29 days ago • 1 min read
Friday 12th January - Leading with Kindness

January can seem like a long month in the Northern Hemisphere. This last week certainly seemed like a very long week! I hope you can start to think about the weekend. I’ve recently explored the subject of happiness in software engineering from an organizational perspective and explored the foundations of how software organizations comes about and why we occasionally find it so difficult to square. Let’s start with the concept of the happy individual building an application. It gets more...

about 2 months ago • 2 min read
Friday 22nd December - It's a Wrap

So what else is there to say at the end of 2023 other than "Phew, we made it!"? What did you learn this year? I learned that microservices architectures can be punishing for inexperienced teams and that monolithic architectures, while simpler, can be similarly perplexing when you mix cloud build cycles and tool integrations. In our modern hybrid-cloud enterprise, we increasingly need network chops to make sense of the connectivity of our solutions and the tooling that supports them. My...

2 months ago • 2 min read
Friday 8th December - Happiness Engineering

Today's bumper roundup edition includes three posts from the last three weeks. I will attempt to make this newsletter regular on a Friday soon, but I also don't want to make promises I can't keep. Hopefully, every issue gives you something useful, and I would like to keep it that way! Through a tumultuous year in tech that has seen layoffs and turnarounds, the machine keeps on moving. What are your plans for 2024? Well advanced or not yet taking shape? After a cautious year, it's too early to...

3 months ago • 3 min read

It's Tuesday in the Netherlands and it's blowing a gale. Last week, I co-organised the first-ever edition of our new Fast Flow Meetup in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Despite some pretty atrocious weather then, we got about 30 like-minded flow enthusiasts into a room to discuss the implications of socio-technical systems and how to do the mysterious thing of enabling "fast flow". So what exactly is "fast flow", and why is it important? So often, despite our tools and processes, we slow down our...

4 months ago • 3 min read
Do We Work in Pipelines?

We all want to build better software faster and more reliably. Many valuable simple improvements in code practice, design and process are easy to spot from outside the team or organisation but it is always challenging to know what the best thing to work on is day-to-day. External impetuses from consultants, managers, consultant reports or even customers are not always valuable to the delivery process. Why? Because we are told that we want to achieve a pipeline of our activities. We wish to...

4 months ago • 3 min read
Friday 13th October - Why do we do DevOps?

When we talk about building a DevOps organisation - what do we mean? We don't do all of "this stuff" (waves hand towards a Jira or Azure Devops board) because we want to follow a particular methodology or necessarily use a set of technologies or solutions for our work. We're just trying to understand and improve how we build and deliver software better. Seeing the frameworks and ideas around us as 'solutions' to our problems is tempting. So, for example, picking Scrum or Kanban, or using npm...

5 months ago • 2 min read
Monday 25th September - Talk vs Action

As software engineers, we spend a lot of time fixing things. We code. We debug. We troubleshoot. I recently had a conversation with someone which went a little like this: (me): Do you have any diagrams of this architecture? (dev): No, we prefer not to make pictures because they often become quickly outdated. (me): But you know the saying "picture is worth a thousand words" right? (dev): Yes but we prefer to write things down. (me): And those words, are they always the right words and up to...

5 months ago • 2 min read
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