One of the best ways to successfully adopting the DevOps culture is improving feedback and communication between all teams and stakeholders.
One of the fastest ways for DevOps teams to work at higher levels of efficiency, quality, and continuous improvement is to master amplified feedback loops, so here are some of our DevOps experts’ insider tips for improving feedback and overcoming communication difficulties.
Define a Process Map
When bringing development and operations teams together for the first time, they don’t usually understand how each person works or what processes they follow. Establishing a new level of transparency with a process map is the first step toward mastering amplified feedback loops.
A process map is a visual representation of everyone’s workflow. For example, when a developer gets a request for a new feature, their process is made up of the steps they take to plan, build, test, and release that feature.
Everybody on the team has their own steps, so try to build a single-source process map that makes them clear to everyone. This practice will elicit new questions from each team, create a deeper understanding of the bottlenecks, and allow people to detect issues in the process before starting the project.
Once that transparency has been established, team communication and feedback will improve organically, while also creating team-wide knowledge of everyone’s next steps, revealing potential issues and challenges that weren’t clear beforehand.
Foster a Psychologically Safe Environment
Communication cannot flow properly when team members are afraid of pushback or embarrassment. To avoid this, it’s important to build and promote a safe, open environment where everyone can have their say.
High-performance DevOps teams thrive when their environment is based on trust, commitment, accountability, and results. This can be achieved by reinforcing the idea that feedback is always valuable and always welcome, positive or negative.
Establish guidelines for giving effective feedback and provide training on the topic to get everyone on the same page. Also ensure that team leaders have the skills to detect and respond to people’s unique behaviors, as amplified feedback loops work best when everybody feels empowered to participate.
Individually speaking, teams will often have a mix of natural, confident speakers and shy, reserved people. This can sometimes result in lots of feedback from the outspoken people and minimal feedback from the quiet ones. In this situation, try using an hourglass or a stopwatch and ask each person to give their feedback in 2-3 minutes. This practical exercise will give everyone the same amount of time to participate and ensure that each individual is involved.
Include Clients and Project Stakeholders
Amplified feedback loops require close and immediate communication with clients and stakeholders, so try to educate them on how crucial their participation is.
Ideally, stakeholders should be providing feedback after each new iteration or when a new feature is added. It’s all about fostering fast feedback and ensuring that they feel like part of the team—because they are part of the team.
This process of continuous inclusion will improve the quality of the feedback given by clients and stakeholders, as they will be fully aware of the impact it would have on the DevOps team. In turn, this reduces duplicate requests, limits communication time to the most essential points, and improves overall team efficiency.
Leverage Modern Communications Tools
DevOps teams have access to numerous automation tools available for every step of the development process, but modern communication tools are just as important when it comes to feedback.
Chat and instant messenger tools like Slack or Google Hangouts, project management tools like Asana and Trello, and video conferencing tools like Skype or Zoom are all essential for keeping communication flowing in real time.
Also, ensure that the team is not overloaded with notifications from these systems and tools, as they can quickly become meaningless and get treated as spam. If the alert requires action, like a bug fix, then it counts as a meaningful notification, so filter it down to just those worth seeing.
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