Building a DevOps culture

DevOps is a cultural shift. Full stop. It’s not a matter of simply adopting agile planning or automated testing or continuous delivery, although those practices are certainly important. DevOps culture is all about a shared understanding between developers and operations, and sharing responsibility for the software they build. That means increasing transparency, communication, and collaboration across development, IT/operations, and "the business".

Like any big change, building a DevOps culture can be scary. We get it. But we’ve learned through our own experience (and our customers') that two ingredients are key: clarity around expectations, and an environment of psychological safety. Without them, teams tend to thrash around making mistakes – and, worse, not learn from them.

But take heart. Running these four plays will make your team’s DevOps journey easier.

DevOps loop illustration

Top 4 plays for building a DevOps culture

Practice communicating, collaborating, and brainstorming with colleagues from other areas of the company.

Connecting via the internet

Roles and Responsibilities

Now that development and operations are collaborating closely, it's time to clarify who does what, plus identify any skill gaps. Run this play early in your DevOps journey, as well as any time your team's membership changes.

Pouring liquid in a test tube into a beaker with a different liquid

Working Agreements

Whether you're a united DevOps team, or a cross-team working group, you'll work better together if you explicitly define how you'll work together. Run this play to set or refresh your social contract every 6-12 months.

three circles intertwined


What's better than doing root cause analysis on an incident? Anticipating risks so you can solve for them while there's still time! Run this play in the early phases of a project and before big releases.

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This classic agile technique is critical for creating a culture of continuous improvement and learning. Retrospectives provide a safe space to discuss what's working, what's not, and what needs to change. Run them regularly (we recommend bi-weekly or monthly).

also recommeded

Service Team Health Monitor

Use the Health Monitor to self-assess against eight attributes common amongst high-performing teams, then track your progress over time.

Bring in development, IT/ops, support, QA, design, and marketing for an honest discussion about how you're working together.

guided health monitor

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