How Badly Set Goals Create a Tug-of-War in Your DevOps Organization
A rope. Eight people on either side. “Pull!” And then it begins: both parties are pulling in their own direction. A tug-of-war has started.
Imagine your developers and sysadmins as those two parties starting that tug-of-war
Each group has different goals. And having different goals leads to each party pulling in another direction. How can this happen and what to do about it?
In most organizations every employee has a set of personal goals
They usually bubble down all the way from the CEO (who get’s his goals from the board) via the middle management down to each and every developer and sysadmin. In most organizations development and system operations are separate departments and have separate managers. Both might report to the same C-level executive but both will get a different set of goals.
Those goals seem to make sense from the point of view of the C-level executive
But things get out of control when goals are passed down the hierarchy. What began as a nicely orchestrated company roadmap, entangles into a distorted mess of misaligned, even conflicting goals for the teams responsible for execution.
The mess thickens faster than you’d imagine
Like when playing Telephone (aka Chinese whispers), the original intentions are changed after filtering down through a few levels in the hierarchy. Just one or two levels are enough to end up with conflicting goals.
Conflicting goals lead to a tug-of-war
To avoid such a tug-of-war you need to set coherent goals. The most important step towards coherent goals is the harmonization of goals for all team members involved in a business process. With everyone finally pulling in the same direction, you can create an aligned DevOps organization.
You can harmonize goals by discussing them openly across the teams
Letting teams play an important role in defining goals makes sure that everyone understands and embraces the strategic business goals defined by top management.
Understanding the strategic business objectives helps to create harmonized goals
Once everyone understands and embraces the strategic business objectives, you have a harmonized set of coherent and realistic team goals. You’ll avoid that tug-of-war and your departments will collaborate naturally. You’ll experience the dawn of a real DevOps culture.