04.02.20

Establishing a Creative & Productive DevOps Work Environment

By Juan Ignacio Giro
Establishing a Creative & Productive #DevOps Work Environment2

DevOps is so much more than just about how a company develops new features, apps, and software solutions. The approach covers everything from learning how to improve the working environment for teams of engineers to the best tools to use to achieve operational (and developmental) effectiveness and efficiency. The combination allows companies to rely on DevOps for better output quality and improved agility thanks to an inherently better working culture. 

Adopting the DevOps model also doesn’t necessarily mean following a strict set of rules or a series of approaches. Yes, you need to master form before you can transcend and achieve the formless, but the DevOps methodology itself is actually very flexible. Which is the whole point of DevOps to begin with. Technical productivity and quality are as important as establishing a system and culture that continually looks for ways to improve and be creative. It encourages different functions—including testing, QA, and security—to work together in a seamless way. That can only begin to happen when we think creatively outside of the box about the development pipeline in the first place. CI/CD enhances the use of DevOps as an organizational approach even further.

Enhancing output and hitting organizational goals is crucial for a company’s bottom line. DevOps aligns these targets through a process that advances the most significant components in a development pipeline: Our employees. Which means beginning with an improved working environment, one that promotes creativity and rewards initiative while remaining efficient and effective. 

If you want to establish an innovative and productive software development environment, here are the top tips that Caylent have found which help promote this.

Define Common Goals Clearly

The first challenge in creating a creative software development work environment is maintaining effectiveness along the way. This challenge can be answered by setting clear and well-defined goals that every team member understands. Common goals act as the guiding principles as everyone works together to explore new avenues. DevOps promotes tighter feedback loops to rid developers of low-level work and, instead, provide the time to be creative, free their minds, and think about the user. 

Such common goals are up to the organizational leaders to set. Once they are defined, it is also up to the management team to distribute those goals and the metrics that will be used to measure success across the development team.

Use Overlapping Zones

Defy traditional office conventions and create zones that allow team members with different backgrounds and skills to interact with each other. When team members with different skill sets and experience come together, the creative part of their brain is stimulated. Exposing your employees to new and diverse fields can profoundly impact their ability to discover an innovative approach that will increase the speed or the pace of the overall team. Ideas that a single person can not realize alone may suddenly gain traction and support of other team members with the right skills for the job. The results may be nothing short of surprising. 

Encourage Shared Learning

A key way to promote creativity in a team is through transparency. Knowledge, experience, and documentation should not be contained to a single team or project, but instead, be made openly available to the entire organization. New employees can gain a better understanding of the working process of both the team and the organization. Others can also improve their cross-departmental skill sets and experience through such learning too. Only then will other teams—and team members—fully learn about how to function better as part of a bigger entity.

Reward Innovation, Trials, and Experiments

Creativity is not an easy thing to encourage and develop, which is why experimentation is important in this type of environment. Encourage participation in or create an organizational program to develop creative skills. 

Surprising, and completely unforeseen innovations can come out of Hack Days. Hack days are fun occasions which encourage off-piste thinking. Such events urge employees to focus on a project of their own creation: A fix for a bug they’ve been wanting to sort, an idea that’s been cooking in the back of their heads or an entirely new feature they’ve been itching to produce. 

Motivating your employees to think creatively can help your business develop new features and services to differentiate the company from its competitors.

Game Days are another DevOps event which drives everyone out of their comfort zones. Part role-playing, part war-game, and all good fun, Game Days see the organization, department or team collaborating in unexpected ways to create solutions for what has become ‘broken’.  These Days also promote cross-skill set learning by encouraging everyone to work together to figure out the best solution to implement. With these programs, you will start seeing new approaches being tested and experiments being done, all while remaining focused on the common goals.

Push Team Members Further

A good leader is essential to creating a work environment that promotes growth and creativity. The right leadership can push team members further and encourage them to go beyond their areas of expertise and outside of their comfort zones. The job of a great leader is looking past team members job titles to uncover untapped skills. Which is when creativity starts to develop at a faster pace.

The common organizational goals are your ultimate guiding principle here. A business solution developed by engineers who understand—and are passionate about—the company will be much better than one developed ‘by the book’.

Listen

You are probably expecting a section about evaluation and improvement, but that’s a common part of the DevOps process. To really take it a step further and create a work environment that lets team members shine, what you want to do is listen.

Let team members say what they have in mind about the project. Let ideas reach everyone in the team and allow others to give feedback. Use predetermined standup sessions and everyday interactions to find and encourage new sources to speak up.

At Caylent, we believe a culture that encourages and rewards creativity lies at the heart of a productive business. The combined processes above motivates team members to discuss, think, and work on their own ideas while staying within the common-goal boundaries. All while heading in the same direction as the rest of the team. 

Check out this article on Why You Need a DevOps Consultant for more information.


Caylent provides a critical DevOps-as-a-Service function to high growth companies looking for expert support with Kubernetes, cloud security, cloud infrastructure, and CI/CD pipelines. Our managed and consulting services are a more cost-effective option than hiring in-house, and we scale as your team and company grow. Check out some of the use cases, learn how we work with clients, and read more about our DevOps-as-a-Service offering.