Friday, May 12, 2017

Where Were You When...

Where were you when

...Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run?

...Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone?

...Felix Baumgartner jumped from 39km in space and parachuted to Earth while televising it?

Mmm...soda!
My wife and I have had this long-standing debate about whether drinks with Aspartame should be consumed.  She says no, but I say yes because I don't want the added sugar since I'm overweight as it is.  (Nevermind the options of not consuming the drink in the first place because then I'd drink beer instead and that's no better for my waistline.)  So once while consuming one of my favorite beverages - San Pellegrino Limonata - I read the list of ingredients to see which type of sweetener was present.  It was sugar.  I lost.

"Remember when there was this huge backlash about High Fructose Corn Syrup?" I asked her, in hopes of avoiding discussing the fact that I was drinking something with sugar in it.  At that point, we both acknowledged that during that backlash companies reacted in one of two ways:
  1. They fought back and tried to convince the general public that High Fructose Corn Syrup was just like sugar, didn't result in elevated risk for obesity, diabetes, etc.  We all saw the advertising campaign from the corn growers that highlighted this.

  2. They modified their recipes to use cane sugar, Agave nectar, or something else.
When talking to executives at my customers, I've often rallied behind the statement by Gartner in 2014 that companies either think like a technology company or lose their "first mover advantage."  (I like to paraphrase that as "constantly innovate or rapidly become irrelevant.")  For companies looking to avoid being this equivalent of the Titanic DevOps seems like a viable pivot, and yet this has become the veritable albatross around the neck of many CxOs who want to adopt DevOps but completely fail to do so.

What gives?  One of the tenets of DevOps is the CALMS initialism.

Culture
Automation
Lean (process engineering, that is, not the avoidance of sugary beverages)
Measurement
Sharing

None of these items are things that happen overnight, especially cultural support for the evolution to a DevOps mindset.  The biggest problem with the latter is the inability for organizations to overcome the way of thinking that encouraged IT silos, the "it's not my job" mentality, etc.

Think High Fructose Corn Syrup.

When the backlash against that happened, companies that were able to change the way they created their products enjoyed a huge (my guess, not backed up with empirical data of course) bump in top line revenue because this issue was "top of mind" for many consumers who were consumed with creating a more healthy lifestyle.  For the companies that stuck with the old ingredient, they certainly didn't "rapidly become irrelevant," but I can assure you that even to this day I still check the ingredients list and avoid products with High Fructose Corn Syrup in it whenever possible.

DevOps is a journey to be sure.  But the journey will pay dividends for years to come, and so it is an investment that is worth every penny of sweat capital that you will invest.