Leading Change with DevOps Institute Global Ambassador, Karen Ferris

Culture and Human Skills, Humans of DevOps, Transformational Leadership

DevOps Institute Ambassadors are volunteers from across the globe that want to help advance the career opportunities in IT and support emerging practices within the DevOps community based on a human-centered SKIL Framework, consisting of Skills, Knowledge, Ideas, and Learning.  

These individuals are advocates for the “Humans of DevOps” and are industry pioneers who are passionate about the DevOps movement, are recognized DevOps subject matter experts and who voluntarily contribute to the Collective Body of Knowledge (CBok) of DevOps. 

This week, we are proud to feature an Ambassador from Australia, Karen Ferris, an Author, Speaker, Facilitator, Educator, Coach and Mentor.

Below, we asked Karen a few questions about her career in tech, advancements in the software delivery industry, impactful IT leaders and her own advice for those starting a career in tech. 

Karen is a self-professed organisational change management rebel with a cause. Acclaimed internationally as an author and speaker, with industry acknowledgment of her reputation as a thought leader, she provides both strategic and practical advice and insights to her audiences. Karen has authored several books including: ‘Balanced Diversity – A Portfolio Approach to Organisational Change,’ ‘Game On! Tactics to Win When Leading Change is Everyone’s Business’ and the soon to be published ‘Unleash The Resilitator Within’. In 2014 itSMF Australia bestowed her with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the industry. For the last three years she has been voted one of the top 25 thought leaders in service management by HDI. In 2017 the Business Relationship Management Institute presented her with a Global Excellence Award and in 2018 CMI awarded her the Rebel Award for, “The person breaking all the rules to make things better for all.”

(You can connect with Karen directly via Twitter at @Karen_Ferris or LinkedIn).

Q: What is the biggest advancement/improvement you have seen the software delivery industry make in the past 5 years?

Continuous delivery. Continuous delivery has given many organisations a competitive advantage. It is not only the speed of delivery that is a differentiator. 

Continuous delivery actually helps teams reduce the number of errors that make it into production. Thanks to continuous testing, all errors are caught immediately and sent back to the developer to fix.

Q: How do technology leaders best enable different ways of working amongst their teams?

Different ways of working require different ways of thinking. All leaders (not just technology leaders) need to have open and honest conversations with their teams. The conversation about change should always start with ‘why’. Once ‘the why’ has been tabled and understood, the conversation about what needs to change and how can commence. 

Q: What is your response to someone that says “DevOps won’t work here”?

I would ask ‘why?’ I would determine the objections and then drill down to find the ‘real’ objections. Often it is just a lack of willingness to try something new and disrupt the status quo.

Q: Who has been the most impactful IT Leader (or professional colleague) you’ve worked with throughout your career and why?

A CIO, who was a client, who worked with this IT team to move from ‘no because’ to ‘yes but’. Through a series of process improvement sprints and employee engagement, he achieved it. He turned the team around.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give someone starting their career in tech?

Have a growth mindset. Learn as much as you can. Never stop learning. Embrace change.

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