The three ways of DevOps

From the book “The Phoenix Project” by Gene Kim et al.

Session Outline

Connect: What is and is not DevOps?

DevOps is a broadly used term that is often interpreted in different ways. Divide a board into three parts, with the three titles below. Ask people to write notes describing their understanding of DevOps in each:

They might write notes like “tools” or “flow” or “automation” or “a cross-functional team”. Don’t try to correct people at this stage, just give them a chance to say what they think and give you an idea how much they already know about the topic.

Concept: 3 ways

Briefly explain the 3 ways. The Phoenix Project book has an explanation on page 356 that you could base this on.

Then divide into pairs or small groups around the following topics:

For each topic X, ask people to answer these questions:

Concrete: Classify practices

Divide into pairs or small groups. Each group gets the same pile of cards with names of practices on and a board with sections for each of the 3 ways. Ask them to divide the cards between the sections on the board according to which of the three ways they think the practice contributes most to.

The DevOps practices on the cards could be things like:

There are lots of lists of DevOps practices on the internet. Pick some you like and you think are relevant. You should provide the participants with some way to look up a description of each practice in case they don’t know what it is, and be prepared to clarify as you go round the groups and help them in their discussions.

After about 15-20 minutes, ask them to take a look at what all the other groups have written, or at a sample solution you prepared. Discuss any differences: how and why people have reasoned differently about the 3 ways.

Note: there is no ‘correct’ answer, the important part is the discussions and to get them to better understand what the 3 ways are.

Conclusions: Which of these practices would you like to learn more about?

Talk about where your organization needs to learn new ways of working in order to follow the 3 ways. Each group should come up with proposals for concrete steps to begin or existing practices to improve. If there are particular practices they want to learn more about, consider scheduling additional learning hours. Suggest they discuss any changes or new practices at the next retrospective.