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October 7, 2020

Advice on Starting and Maintaining a Learning Culture

By IT Revolution

A series of advice blogs from DevOps Enterprise Summit 2020 presenters.

How do you create a learning culture?

“Learning demands vulnerability. When we authentically learn, we take a risk that we’ll learn something about ourselves that changes our self-image. If you want to build a learning culture, you first have to build a culture of care. Care makes learning safe.”
—Matt K. Parker, author

“It might seem silly, but just ask: ‘What did we learn last week/sprint/year?” a lot.”
—Jon Moore, Chief Software Architect & Senior Fellow, Comcast Cable

“First and foremost, show it’s okay to fail. Show yourself failing. Be humble. Demonstrate what you’ve learned.”
—Liam Gulliver, cofounder of DevOpsNotts

“You have to start with an environment of safety. Safe for folks to speak their mind and provide new perspectives. You need to have safe environments to run experiments and gather data. You need to build into everyone’s time to be able to learn, grow, and experiment.”
—Christopher McFee,
Director of DevOps Practices, KeyBank

“Model curiosity, and teach people to say ‘I don’t know that…yet.’ Build learning objectives into company goals/planning. Learning needs to be valued as work, and acquired knowledge respected as work product.”
—David Stanke,
Director of Site Reliability Engineering, MediaMath Source

“You create a learning culture by making every activity a deliberate experiment. When was the last time you wrote down your prediction before taking action and then checked how reality matched your prediction afterwards?”
—Jeffrey Fredrick, Coauthor of Agile Conversations

How do you maintain a learning culture?

Familiarize everyone with the idea of Kaizen, continual improvement, we should always look for ways to get better.”
—Dave Mangot, Principal, Mangoteque

“You sustain a learning culture by praising what knowledge allowed you to achieve the outcomes. You kill a learning culture by seeking to assign blame—or praise!—based on outcomes.”
—Jeffrey Fredrick, coauthor of Agile Conversations

“Keep making the goals more challenging. Sponser hack-a-thons focused on solving larger organizational problems. Celebrate innovation and attempts to innovate.”
—Bryan Finster, Value Stream Architect, Walmart DevOps Dojo, Walmart

“Live true to the change. If learning is ALWAYS interrupted by firefighting or some other in-the-moment priority, it will quickly become trivial and the message is that it is not important.”
—Adam Shake, Director of Site Reliability Engineering, MediaMath Source

- About The Authors
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IT Revolution

Trusted by technology leaders worldwide. Since publishing The Phoenix Project in 2013, and launching DevOps Enterprise Summit in 2014, we’ve been assembling guidance from industry experts and top practitioners.

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