When development departments began to embrace DevOps practices around 2010, and before that when they began to trade their waterfall methodologies for agile philosophies in the early 2000s, those changes were bigger than a single set of tools that could be purchased.
Success in each transformation required culture change, not additional tools layered on top of existing culture. DevOps practices pulled from and learned from lean manufacturing practices. In those models, every single worker on the line is empowered to “pull the stop cord” and stop work when they see something is wrong. If there’s a problem on the line, waiting until it’s someone’s specific job to catch it almost always results in failure. Instead, by empowering each worker to pay attention, engage his or her brain, and stop the job when something is off; your entire workforce learns, the business delivers a better product, and you end up more efficiently creating product along the way.
That “empowered worker” concept is one that is often unheard of in traditional manufacturing, development, and yet-to-be-transformed companies. At those companies, workers are not empowered to think. Instead, they follow processes and procedures that others set up in model environments. It’s someone else’s job to look for problems, and each department only has a view of their own perspective.
There is a wave of successful transformation that technological industries have undergone in the past two decades, and each of those transformations required successful businesses to build trust through vulnerability, empowerment, and a culture of ongoing learning.
By building trust between the business and the frontline worker, the frontline worker can be empowered to take action and speak up. By building trust between the frontline worker and his or her manager, a culture of accountability will grow and take root – because suddenly the worker knows he or she not only has a voice, but it’s a voice that is listened to. And, by building trust between diverse business units and encouraging ongoing learning, better ideas are born at all levels of the business which increases both efficiency and overall performance.
In the digital transformation landscape, the biggest successes come when you elevate IT from “order takers” to “strategic leaders” within the organization. This isn’t just a worker at a time, this is a true elevation of a business unit and change of the overall culture.
If your IT team was the first to say, “No,” in a transformed team, they become the first group to offer counsel, advice, and ideas. If your retail business has trouble dealing with customer calls at your point of sale, there are two options. In the old world, your point of sale team would meet to consider options with their own specific view. In the transformed world, a cross-functional team can infuse the group with new perspectives from the IT department who are open and willing to offer suggestions. Then, two business groups working together to implement offer a more reliable, robust and well thought out solution, which breeds more collaboration and culture change. These transformations are happening, and soon the concept of the “empowered worker” will be ubiquitous in successful businesses.
Find out how safety plays a role in this conversation in the next installment of the map to a safer workplace is written in code.
Diana Nolting serves as Director of Product at Anvl. Before joining Anvl Diana served as Product Manager at Bluelock, a industry-leading Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service provider where she had a front-row seat to see the magnitude of change and possibility that digital transformation can bring to the business, particularly when cloud technologies are applied to solve business problems. At Anvl, Diana is responsible for driving the product strategy and vision, ensuring both continues to evolve and innovate to serve needs of the safety industry and deliver continuous value.