Effective DevOps — Building a DevOps Culture at Scale

DevOps enables organizations to deliver software faster and more reliably. But to get the desired results, it’s important to know that there’s more to building an effective DevOps practice than learning new methodologies and technologies. Culture is the key to a successful DevOps transformation. 

The Big Picture

DevOps is a way of thinking and a way of working. It is a framework for sharing stories and developing empathy, enabling people and teams to practice their crafts in effective and lasting ways. It is part of the cultural weave that shapes how we work and why.

DevOps is a cultural movement that changes how individuals think about their work, values the diversity of work done, supports intentional processes that accelerate the rate by which businesses realize value, and measures the effect of social and technical change. It is a way of thinking and a way of working that enables individuals and organizations to develop and maintain sustainable work practices. It is a cultural framework for sharing stories and developing empathy, enabling people and teams to practice their crafts in effective and lasting ways.

A Prescription for Culture

DevOps is a prescription for culture. No cultural movement exists in a vacuum; social structure and culture are inherently intertwined. The hierarchies within organizations, industry connections, and globalization influence culture, as well as the values, norms, beliefs, and artifacts that reflect these areas.

The software we create does not exist separately from the people who use it and the people who create it. DevOps is about finding ways to adapt and innovate social structure, culture, and technology together in order to work more effectively

The Four Pillars of Effective DevOps

The combination of these four pillars will enable you to address both the cultural and technical aspects of your organization.


Collaboration is the process of building toward a specific outcome through supporting interactions and the input of multiple people. A guiding principle that shaped the DevOps movement was the cooperation of software development and operations teams. Before one team can successfully work with another team with a different focus, the individuals on a team need to be able to work with each other.


Affinity is the process of building these inter-team relationships, navigating differing goals or metrics while keeping in mind shared organizational goals, and fostering empathy and learning between different groups of people.


Tools are an accelerator, driving change based on the current culture and direction. Tool choices can be perceived as easy wins. Understanding why they are wins, and their impact on existing structures is important to prevent obscuring issues in teams and organizations. Failure to examine the problems in values, norms, and organizational structure leads to invisible failure conditions as cultural debt builds up.


Scaling is a focus on the processes and pivots that organizations must adopt throughout their lifecycles. Beyond simply considering what it means to address DevOps in large enterprise organizations, scaling takes into account how the other pillars of effective DevOps can be applied throughout organizations as they grow, mature, and even shrink.

If you want to build a strong and sustainable DevOps culture within your organization, you might find this ebook useful, Effective DevOps from O’Reilly.

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