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April 19, 2017

Top Down and Bottom Up Approaches to DevOps Transformations are Needed

By IT Revolution
Jon Smart

Q & A with Jonathan Smart, Head of Development Services, Barclays

Over the last few weeks, we’ve had the pleasure of sharing Q&A’s with some of our renowned DevOps Enterprise Summit London conference speakers. Additionally, we had speakers join us for a live video chat. We heard from IT leaders at ITV, Allianz Deutschland AG, UK Department for Work and Pensions, as well as the author of “The Art of Business Value,” Mark Schwartz, and our very own Gene Kim.

This week, we continue on our journey to London with an interview with Jonathan Smart, Head of Development Services at Barclays. Barclays is a British multi-national banking and financial services company headquartered in London. It is a universal bank with operations in retail, wholesale and investment banking, as well as wealth management, mortgage lending and credit cards. Operating in more than 40 countries with nearly 120,000 employees, Barclays represents one of the world’s largest Fintech organizations making strides toward agility and implementing DevOps.

Jonathan offers us some valuable lessons on what is needed for successful DevOps implementations today and in the future.

DevOps Enterprise Summit: What are you most excited about for the upcoming event this June?

Jonathan Smart: To hear from large, complex, organizations with long histories, not born agile, as to how they are doing in delivering better products faster and lessons learned.

DOES: Discuss the biggest problem areas or challenges of large-scale DevOps transformations.

JS: Knowing what to do is straightforward. Being able to do it, the how, at scale, across large, old and complex enterprises is difficult and messy. Obstacles are not in the path, obstacles are the path. Understanding how people are achieving culture change in large complex adaptive systems is interesting.

DOES: Top lessons learned while leading (or participating in) DevOps transformations.

JS: Both Top Down and Bottom Up are needed—connect the two because the absence of one will jeopardize progress. At the same time, the Pressurised Middle need dedicated support, to encourage the plane to be upgraded mid flight. Also, recognize and reward desired behaviors.

DOES: What has been your favorite DevOps pattern that you’ve seen or done that radically improves outcomes?

JS: There is no one answer to this question. The thing that radically improves outcomes is context relevant. The biggest constraint to flow will differ across teams or areas or enterprises. If I had to pick one though, I’d say ‘fast feedback.’ In a DevOps context, increasing the communication between Dev and IT Ops, or moving closer to ‘you build it, you run it’ within control guardrails.

DOES: What do you think is the most important metric when measuring DevOps success?

JS: I believe flow is the most important metric, for example, Lead Time. However, it is important to also measure quality and happiness, to ensure that all three are improving and it’s not Lead Time improving at the expense of the other two

DOES: What new Ops skills and roles may be needed in a DevOps future?

JS: Working together as multi-disciplinary teams is needed. Also, teamwork aligned to the customer, not oriented by role. More focus is needed on data and DevOps especially with increasing data regulation (e.g. GDPR).

DOES: What are the best strategies for enabling and injecting learning into daily work?

JS: Asking teams to continuously improve their system of work with a focus on reducing Lead Time and increasing quality.

DOES: Anything else that we did not ask that you would like to ask fellow speakers? Or anything that you’d like to add that was not covered above?

JS: Self Managing Organizations (SMOs) or “Teal Organizations” are interesting. With DevOps or Agile, we are trying to improve the system of work within a dictatorship. Cells in our body do not have a CEO cell. Forests do not have a CEO tree. We need to think bigger. Our enterprises, as complex adaptive systems, should be Purpose Driven, Self Managing, and Shape Shifters. In SMOs (like Matt Black Systems, where each person is a virtual company), market forces apply WITHIN the firm, not only outside of it. Organized human activity in enterprises is very inefficient today, compared to what is possible. However, this needs to be balanced with social responsibility, providing employment, pensions and investment in welfare and infrastructure by governments. We have a long way to go regarding organized human endeavors.

DevOps Enterprise Summit 2017

Thanks for chatting Jonathan! This community appreciates the wisdom regarding DevOps transformations and your last response will have us all Googling “SMOs.”

The DevOps Enterprise Summit London is quickly approaching. If you have not yet registered and would like to join Jonathan and other world-class DevOps leaders and practitioners in June, you can find out more about the conference and sign up here.


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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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