I’ve seen two styles of transformation since entering my DevOps career; wholesale (such as what we’ve seen in Government with the Government Digital Standards) and incrementally, or one team at a time. With my latest client, I’ve opted to take the latter approach to keep disruption low.

When engaging with the first team, it quickly became apparent that the engineers were context switching so radically that they struggled to excel at anything. I know from experience that these guys are great engineers, but as we all know, if we don’t practice our trades, the efficiency and productivity fades. My first act as coach was to ringfence their activity to a single backlog. While this worked in principle, these guys were subject matter experts across several other products and were needed often to help other people. Before I arrived, they would typically do the work themselves, but I insisted they took the “no hand on keyboard” approach to reach the solution. In other words, I wanted them to coach the other team and not hand the solution on a plate. While this took longer initially, I knew the dependent teams wouldn’t be coming back for further help on the same issue. See the teach a man to fish mental model.

Over time I have seen a drastic reduction in the number of requests to my team. I can’t deny that they are great engineers and sometimes people just like the reassurance they bring in peer reviews. As long as this doesn’t negatively impact the immediate team, I’m glad for them to help. My observation over the past three months of leading this team is that they have completed as much work as they did the year prior - and they seem much happier doing it.

If you look after a team do them a favour and protect their productivity. Many people will look for “a little bit of time” here and there without understanding the cumulative negative effect it has on the individuals. As humans, we gain a great sense of satisfaction from completing things - dont steal that from people. Again, if you look after a team do them a favour and protect their productivity.