A common refrain we here in the DevOps movement is that people are more important than tools and that DevOps is about culture change. What we don’t hear are any concrete specifics about changing culture, instead we get bits and pieces of the culture puzzle. The reality is that like DevOps borrows from Lean, we must again borrow practices from another scientifically based discipline called Organizational Behavior and its related subfields of study.
The question of course is why do we need to understand Organizational Behavior in order to help with the DevOps movement inside an organization? The answer goes back to a statistic reported earlier in the book from Gartner showing ninety percent of organizations who attempted DevOps without first tackling culture change are failing in their efforts. What we discover is that without the kind of information that the study of Organizational Behavior provides, organizations have no basis for following any one DevOps course instead of another. The result is that these organizations often make unsound decisions and wait for changes in the productivity promised by DevOps which never materialize. Luckily, however, following basic scientific principles in Organizational Behavior can provide the insight necessary to avoid making these sorts of mistakes.
It is often mentioned in DevOps that in order to understand DevOps, we need to look back at Lean Manufacturing and specifically the Toyota Production System. Well in order to understand why we should employ Organizational Behavior we will also look back at to how companies like Toyota has successfully used Organizational Behavior in the past. In the late 1980’s Toyota became one of the first Japanese owned companies to open up manufacturing operations in the United States. Toyota realized from the beginning that there were stark differences between American workers and Japanese workers, so they employed Organizational Behavior techniques to help them better fit into the United states from a corporate image level all the way down to understanding individual differences so that they could put the right person in the right place. To this day, if the Lean practices in place at various United States manufacturing facilities are compared to Japanese facilities, you will find that the same principles/tools are used, they just are implemented in different ways to better fit the differences in cultures.