DevOps evolves organizational culture from blame-oriented to success-oriented. However, neglecting practical matters in DevOps adoption can spoil its promise. A primary practical matter is compensation for effective collaboration. Measuring compensation for effective collaboration is not trivial and remains a ‘dark art’ fraught with subjectivity.
Today’s traditional compensation models revolve around the firm’s financial health and individual contribution. Measuring individual contribution can be subjective and tightly coupled with the manager’s performance qualification of direct reports. Qualification is typically based on annual or quarterly targets, either financial or
based on the individual’s job description.
Collaborative efforts by employees naturally go beyond these
bounds. Today’s models can ignore efforts that do not directly contribute to an outcome and can be largely ignored. Employee
frustration, and employee mistrust in compensation models, leads to
loss of human capital and results in retention problems. Employee
retention problems result in decreased organizational performance and ultimately organization’s potential.
Teaming in DevOps
If you haven’t heard, DevOps is a relatively newfangled philosophy in Information Technology. Fundamentally, it is an organizational
behavior shift that promotes better outcomes through effective
communication and sharing across spheres of influence. To achieve
DevOps benefit realization, holistic adoption should be a fundamental goal. This presents real challenges for organizations and managers.
Traditionally, IT has been structured functionally into Planning, Building, and Running business applications. The functional teams must work with each other, and typically do so through formal
communication. Each functional team has their own metrics for
success, for example Planning focuses on budget, Building focuses on delivering functionality, and Running focuses on uptime (like making sure the email server doesn’t stop working). Structuring an
organization this way is not wrong; individuals in those teams benefit from managers who understand their specializations and relating needs.
Although functionally different, events can taint motives. If an
application stops working (for example, your website), it initially
seems like the problem belongs to the Running team. In reality, the
problem will impact the Building team, and ultimately the Planning
team. While every event cannot be anticipated, it is clear that the
probability creates measurable risk.
DevOps, to a great degree, can mitigate the risk through pro-active
collaboration across these functional teams. In effect, we’re
creating a forward-thinking organization instead of a reactive and
blaming one. Risk mitigation ultimately computes to increased
organizational value. HR professionals can then provide compensation mechanisms that concretely promote collaborative behaviors. However, until this practical matter is resolved, it will be tough to build DevOps momentum.
The first and most fundamental priority in any firm is outcomes outweighing investments. With that in mind, why wouldn’t managers dive head first into teaming?
Accelerated, effective, and broad teaming adoption requires practical change that conflicts with management objectives. Teaming continues to be a difficult proposition for many managers: they are charged with providing outcomes in their direct sphere of influence, which naturally conflicts with self-organizing and dynamic teaming.
Managers are compensated based on the performance of their team. Compensation drives motives and decisions. In order to drive teaming, managerial performance must be accompanied by objective measurement of dynamic team performance: how their reports contribute to organizational outcomes beyond their sphere of influence, and be compensated by it.
Measuring the team itself can create its own set of challenges. To do
so, objective measurement must be performed, and the measurement methods must be transparent. Once made objective and transparent, it becomes an automatic metric for individual compensation as well as an aggregate for managerial compensation. In effect, managers will naturally promote teaming.
With practical organizational change, DevOps will become much more achievable. Although collaboration and sharing is not a DevOps specific organizational trait, it can be a springboard for broad and objective teaming compensation models. Neglecting practical matters can inhibit accelerated adoption.
HR has a real opportunity to drive DevOps benefit realization. A key challenge is measuring contribution and compensating based on collaborative inputs. Objective measurements must be in place and be transparent.