The Goat and the Silo


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Much is often said about Silos in IT, and the fact that DevOps needs to "tear down the silos". But often the "rage against the silos" is often misdirected and we need to focus on the real problems, not organizational structure. Goats are your key to helping your organization change the way it operates.

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  • Intro
  • The definition of the problem.
  • A question I often get when I present this idea
  • My parents were born and raised in Decatur, IL. I still have a lot of family from there, and Decatur is known for being the Soy Bean Capital of the World.
  • My parents were born and raised in Decatur, IL. I still have a lot of family from there, and Decatur is known for being the Soy Bean Capital of the World.
  • Decatur is the Soy Bean capital because of companies like this. Tata and Lyle, which used to be AE Staley. In addition to Tate and Lyle, there is another company ADM, that has a very similar plant like this one shown above.
  • Now to process all this grain, it needs to be stored after it is bought and before it is processed, and of course Silos are used for this job. This is one of the larger Silos in Decatur which is owned by Tate and Lyle. This is acctually a collection of Silos, with equipment to move the grain into and out of the silos. Now collectively this is known as a Grain Elevator. More accurately, the grain elevator is the equipment used to move the grain, and the storage vessel is the silo
  • Now my grandfather used to own a manufacturing company called BemCo Mfg. Bemco built grain elevators for various Silos throughout the midwest and the nation.
  • And now here I am talking about silos. Everyone is talking about Silos these days. And the foundation of this talk came from attending DevOps Days amsterdam. Some one mention the fact that every deck seemed to have a Silo in it, so many silos that they “thought they were at a farmers conference”
  • Silos are all the rage, or should I say we are seeing the rage against the silos. Here is an interesting blog post by IBM on Agile DevOps. Of course, Agile devops is a bit of a misnomer
  • Here is another interesting post. Agile Silos.
  • And we have Silo Historians. Now this is a good post where Patrick explains the origins of silos and why they exist.
  • Silos are really just a reflection of organizational strucuture.
  • An org chart
  • Silos are also a reflection of the manufacturing process used in IT. Not just in Operations but in Development, Product departments, and more.
  • Thus the cry of many is “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this Silo”
  • But when we just going blinding tearing down Silos, problems can ensue. Grain dust is highly combustible and can spontaneously combust.
  • Now let go back to the statement “Silos are a reflect of organizational structure”. If silos reflect the org, and the cry is….
  • Tear down the silos…
  • Thus we want to “Tear down the organizational structure.”
  • And thus, “Cue the angry mob”
  • And typically when you cue the angry mob, you cue the suppression.
  • So lets talk about goats. DevOps Engineers are all the rage on job boards and recruiters spam these days. But I don’t think you need to hire DevOps Engineers to instill a culture of DevOps, and generally speaking many others in the DevOps space would agree. What you need to instill DevOps are goats. So why goats?
  • Goats are extremely intelligent. They will poke and prod and investigate their surroundings, They are curious and seek to learn. Just like those you want bringing about organizational change, you want the curious ones that will go out and find new ways of doing things.
  • They can tow your children
  • Or your rooster
  • They can be used for stew
  • Or even milked
  • They make fashionable clothing
  • And they can be used to clear areas of brush because they will eat just about anything. Generlists are your number one asset as you look to instill devops in your org.
  • So lets talk about silos again.
  • Cross Functional TeamsTeams built from a pool of talent with various skillsTeams work towards common goal, achieve goal, then move onPopular at “new” companies/divisions
  • Cross Functional TeamsAlready done many places for “projects”Large scale this requires “blowing up” the entire orgCreates new Silos
  • DevOps teamDevOp EngineersDevOp products
  • DevOps teamTeam fails, thus DevOps is a failureMisses the pointCreates a new Silo
  • Now when we solve the actual mathematical problem, we get a graphic like this. Now when you have Goats in your org, you need to let them out of their silos from time to time to let them graze amongst others in your org. This helps with the communication and collaboration problems that often plaque orgs.
  • Get the goats more rope, and they can graze even more.
  • Have multiple silos, with multiple goats and now we have goats running amongst other goats, collaborating and communicating more effectively
  • But what you have to avoid is creating yet another silo of goats. This is what many orgs do when they create a DevOps team.
  • What you want is multiple goats, tethered to all your silos to maximize the number of people out grazing.
  • Let’s go back to what I said earlier, “Silos are a reflection of the IT Manufacturing Process”
  • This is a Value Stream Map. This is a common tool in Operations Management used to optimize the flow of goods through the value chain.
  • Value stream maps can also be used in optimizing the flow of work through your IT manufacturing process. Many organizations are starting to use this methodology in to optimize it processes. I see PaaS as the ultimate optimization of the IT manufacturing process on the operations side.
  • When we solve the IT Manufacturing, we can focus on higher level problem.Image from thoughtsworks blog
  • So in the end, we don’t need to hate the Silos in our org
  • We need to hate the grain elevator, or the organizations ability to move the product effectively through the Silos.
  • If you always look at things from your perspective, you might miss the real problem of meaning of what is really going on, and the real problems that need fixed.
  • The Goat and the Silo

    1. 1. The Goat and the Silo Michael Ducy “Goat Father” - Chef @mfdii
    2. 2. The Goat Whisperer • Linux Engineer • Operations • Performance and Capacity • Cloud Architect • Automation • MBA, MS
    3. 3. What the What? A goat is tied to a silo with a rope of length y, what is the grazing area of the goat?
    4. 4. Have you lost your mind? Maybe.
    5. 5. A bit of history
    6. 6. A bit of history
    7. 7. A bit of history
    8. 8. A bit of history
    9. 9. A bit of history
    10. 10. Silos
    11. 11. DevOps Silo Rage
    12. 12. DevOps Silo Rage
    13. 13. DevOps Silo Historian
    14. 14. Silos are a Reflection of Organizational Structure
    15. 15. C. Northcote Parkinson
    16. 16. Parkinson’s Law: "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"
    17. 17. Also known as: We tend to be lazy procrastinating fuckers.
    18. 18. The Law of Multiplication of Subordinates
    19. 19. Person “A” becomes too busy. Has 3 choices: Resign, Split the Work With B, or hire C and D
    20. 20. And then of course: C and D need help and repeat the behavior of A. Now you have an org of 7
    21. 21. A C E F D G H
    22. 22. Also: The Law of Multiplication of Work
    23. 23. “An incoming document may well come before each of them in turn. Official E decides that it falls within the province of F, who places a draft reply before C, who amends it drastically before consulting D, who asks G to deal with it.”
    24. 24. But G goes on leave at this point, handing the file over to H, who drafts a minute, which is signed by D and returned to C, who revises his draft accordingly and lays the new version before A.
    25. 25. Silos are a reflection of the “IT Manufacturing Process”
    26. 26. “…tear down this [Silo]”
    27. 27. Who moved my grain?
    28. 28. Silos are a Reflection of Organizational Structure
    29. 29. Tear down Silos
    30. 30. Tear down the Organizational Structure
    31. 31. Cue the Angry Mob
    32. 32. Cue the Suppression
    33. 33. The Goat
    34. 34. Goats are Intelligent
    35. 35. Goats are Multi-Purpose
    36. 36. Goats are Multi-Purpose
    37. 37. Goats are Multi-Purpose
    38. 38. Goats are Multi-Purpose
    39. 39. Goats are Multi-Purpose
    40. 40. Goats are Multi-Purpose
    41. 41. Full Stack Developers
    42. 42. Full Stack Operations
    43. 43. Full Stack OpsDevOps
    44. 44. Full Stack DevOpsDev
    45. 45. The Goat and the Silo
    46. 46. Solving for Silos • Cross Functional Teams – Teams built from a pool of talent with various skills – Teams work towards common goal, achieve goal, then move on – Popular at “new” companies/divisions
    47. 47. Solving for Silos • Cross Functional Teams – Already done many places for “projects” – Large scale this requires “blowing up” the entire org – Creates new Silos
    48. 48. Solving for Silos • DevOps team – DevOp Engineers – DevOp products
    49. 49. Solving for Silos • DevOps team – Team fails, thus DevOps is a failure – Misses the point
    50. 50. Solving The Goat and the Silo
    51. 51. Solving The Goat and the Silo
    52. 52. Solving The Goat and the Silo
    53. 53. Silo of Goats
    54. 54. Solving The Goat and the Silo
    55. 55. Silos are a reflection of the “IT Manufacturing Process”
    56. 56. Solving the Manufacturing Problem
    57. 57. Solving the Manufacturing Problem OS App DB Security
    58. 58. Focus on higher problems
    59. 59. Don’t hate the Silo
    60. 60. Hate the Grain Elevator
    61. 61. Perspective
    62. 62. Recap • I am mostly sane • Hire Goats and give them rope • Ignore the cries of the Mob • Focus on the real issues of dysfunctional Silos – Poor Communication, Education, Collaboration – Poor Manufacturing processes – Fix the grain elevators
    63. 63. Questions?