How can DevOps encourage innovation?
DevOps, short for development and operations, is all about breaking down “silos” in organizations. It’s not enough that one group does the work of designing a product or a service and that the other puts it to use. Instead, they need to communicate with each other, to understand how each side approaches the opportunities and challenges that are presented by their jobs. So how does breaking down these silos touch on innovation, and what lessons can DevOps teach us about being more innovative?
It’s About Communication
One of the biggest problems DevOps is designed to solve is fairly simple: Independent groups just don’t talk to each other, and may not even have the tools to know where to start. Think about how your company is arranged. How easy is it to even find the desk of someone in a department you don’t usually work with? Who’s your point of contact if there’s an issue? How do you follow up?
It seems shocking that businesses can be in a situation where the right hand has no idea what the left is doing, but it happens more often than you might think. One of the most commonplace examples is in marketing where cultures collide, often with disastrous results: Coca-Cola has been attempting to shake off the urban legend of “bite the wax tadpole” for years. But often these can be tiny little issues that make a big difference. Ask somebody whose left hand is dominant what it’s like to live in a world where everybody assumes you use your right; for many companies, it’s the same situation.
And you’ll often find that by building this communication, it’s not just easier to do business. It’s also easier to innovate.
Process starts it. Innovation finishes it.
Innovation And DevOps
Innovation often comes from communication and different perspectives. In fact, it’s common that an idea developed for one application finds its true niche somewhere else. Originally, cellophane was designed as a waterproof coating for cloth, but when it peeled away easily from the tablecloths it was applied to, it quickly dawned on the chemist who invented it just what he had.
DevOps is all about cultivating different perspectives and reconciling them, much like you do when you’re gathering and refining ideas. In fact, you’ll likely find that reconciling innovation processes is often part of building a better DevOps approach. After all, both sides need to know exactly what the other is thinking.
It also helps unite your teams to have them bounce ideas off each other, and it streamlines the innovation process. One of the oldest gags in innovation is somebody building a brilliant ship, plane, or other vehicle and then discovering they can’t use it because it won’t fit through the door. United teams discussing innovation strategy ensure the doors are wide enough for innovation to fly.
Most importantly, though, it helps build common ground. The more teams work on an idea together, the more invested they become in its success and the more careful they are to ensure it soars. A DevOps strategy is important to any growing business just to function, but you’ll find it often bears innovative fruit. To see how you can build more innovation in your company, join our newsletter.