Life with Humane Systems

I am because you are. When you suffer, I suffer. When you thrive, I thrive.

Adam Jacob kicked off #deepdishdevops (DevOpsDays in Chicago) with his talk on building humane systems. Humane systems… what does that mean and how could that possibly apply to the tech industry let alone DevOps?

DevOps came about because we tend to build software with clear lines of delineation. I plan or design or build or support something up to a point and provide the next team with the bare minimum they need to take things over. I’m not too concerned about what they do as long as they don’t have to bug me when it’s their responsibility.

Historically, the less I interact with people that don’t do the same things I do, the better I am at doing my job.

But we have a choice, everyday, to work in such a way to make interactions more enjoyable or less enjoyable.

Google did some research on teams and said something fairly significant.

Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions.

Designing humane systems is about designing with everyone knowing and understanding the end goal. It’s what happens when we each individual has context around the what and the why.

How can we enable teams to work in such a way that they can actually quickly see the impact that they have? If I don’t see you suffer, I will never suffer (because of your suffering). If I don’t see you thrive, I won’t ever thrive (because of your thriving).

We may have to change how we work. Our feedback loops may need to quicken so that we can better understand how changes impact others. We have to fail fast.

We may need different tools. Tools that can automate more, make our work more visible, operationalize measurements.

We may need new structures. We might need to make changes smaller. Enable others to be empowered by their responsibilities. To give everyone a platform on which they can show others why their work matters. We need to build for everyone by representing everyone in the build process.

We definitely need people that want to be connected to that bigger goal, people that want to be included, people willing to talk through successes and failures, people that support one another, people that strive to make others better.

We can bring in the tools. They’re out there and widely available. We can trust our leadership to build structures around capabilities. Are we willing to be people that work to build humane systems?

Adam’s talk was about Ubuntu (not the Linux Distro). It was about remembering that your actions produce consequences for others. I am because you are. When you suffer, I suffer. When you thrive, I thrive.