A fascinating TED talk from “Predictably Irrational” author Dan Ariely has some interesting pointers to some of the underlying psychological mechanisms that make the DevOps model a better way to structure work within IT departments.
“we care much more about a product if we’ve participated from start to finish rather than producing a single part over and over.”
- Seeing the fruits of our labour may make us more productive
- The less appreciated we feel our work is, the more money we want to do it
- The harder a project is, the prouder we feel of it
- Knowing that our work helps others may increase our unconscious motivation
- The promise of helping others makes us more likely to follow rules
- Positive reinforcement about our abilities may increase performance
- Images that trigger positive emotions may actually help us focus
Many of these tie directly back to key DevOps principles.
For example the “First Way of DevOps” encourages “systems thinking” which relates directly to #1 above – if we are looking at the entire system (not just our small part) we will inherently be looking at the “fruits of our labour”.
Similarly fostering a team-based DevOps culture where we can see “how our work impacts on others” is closely aligned with #4.
For me, #2 and #6 tie directly back to “leadership” (as opposed to “management”). Good leaders know that praise (either private 1:1 praise with individuals or public praise in front of the team) can have a huge impact on morale, with a subsequent impact on productivity and quality.
It’s fascinating to see how behavioural science is increasing our understanding of human motivation. The challenge for us in the DevOps movement is to take these science-based insights and see how we can apply them with our teams to create a better way of working.