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How to Pitch a Software Development Initiative and Ignite Culture Change


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You’ve got a great idea for transforming software development or IT processes in your organization, but you’re not sure how to get buy-in from key stakeholders, or how to change your company culture.

In this session, Microsoft MVP Ike Ellis will draw on his experience as a consultant and leader in software development to give you real-world tips to define, shape, and share your pitch successfully. Whether you are launching a revolutionary new initiative or expanding an existing effort to improve your software development, Ike’s tips will help you create a plan to effect change in your teams.

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How to Pitch a Software Development Initiative and Ignite Culture Change

  1. 1. How to Pitch a Software Development Initiative and Ignite Culture Change
  2. 2. Ike Ellis @ike_ellis Microsoft MVP Chairperson of the San Diego TIG Book co-author – Developing Azure Solutions Upcoming course on Azure Databricks Crafting Bytes We’re hiring Data Experts!
  3. 3. The challenges of culture change • Personal • Team • Company • Societal
  4. 4. Lee Kuan Yew
  5. 5. Netflix Famous Culture Slide Deck
  6. 6.
  7. 7. How do I convince a reluctant leader that we should go to DevOps for the database? How do I fix a cowboy culture?
  8. 8. Convince a leader of the need of DevOps and change the culture? This is very difficult!!!
  9. 9. That’s a culture change that you are solely in charge of. How was that? Those of you who were successful, was it easy?
  10. 10. So how do you get someone else to change?
  11. 11. You can’t hire, promote, or fire a reluctant boss So what do we do?
  12. 12. Bad Consultants
  13. 13. Every boss (and in fact everyone) listens to the same radio station
  14. 14. What’s In It For Me
  15. 15. Every leader I’ve ever met has the same few things in common: • A lingering project • A lingering problem • A publicly embarrassing event
  16. 16. So tune in to the radio station and calm their fear • We can deliver faster • We’ll deliver more frequently • We’ll have fewer bugs • We’ll have more success
  17. 17. How do we convince reluctant team members?
  18. 18. Change is hard! Developing new habits are hard!
  19. 19. People fear change
  20. 20. Phrases of Fear • We tried that and we failed • That will never work here • This is just the latest fad,our processes are tried and true • Our company is always 10 years behind the industry • I have too much to do and this will slow me down • Just another kitchy program that will eat up all our time
  21. 21. But we can address their fears and slowly introduce change so that they are comfortable with it
  22. 22. Steps to developing new habits: Step 1: Focus on One New Habit at a time Step 2: Form a new habit? Commit to 30 days per new habit Step 3: Anchor Your New Habit to an Established Habit. Step 4: Take Baby Steps. Don’t be too hard if you misstep or step backward…stay determined to baby step forward Step 5: Make a Plan for Obstacles. Step 6: Create Accountability for Your Habit. Step 7: Reward Important Milestones. Step 8: Build a New Identity.
  23. 23. CULTURE TIP: Make Posters
  24. 24. Culture TIP: Throw a Pizza Party!
  25. 25. Culture TIP: $15 Tee Shirts!
  26. 26. Culture TIP: Fire someone
  27. 27. Culture TIP: Make a new logo
  28. 28. Culture TIP: Bathroom signs LEARN ON THE LOO! • Teach DevOps Best Practices • Teach how to use Source Control • Teach good testing techniques • Teach culture
  29. 29. Standardizing source code only Pros • Provides audit trail of development changes • Manages collaboration of team members • Standardizes coding practices Cons • Manual database code validation, testing, and deployments • Requires a custom process to prevent environment drift
  30. 30. Elevator pitch template: “We are doing _____ so that _____.”
  31. 31. “We should standardize database code and automate deployments to reduce feature time to market.”
  32. 32. SQL Provision adds speed & safety • Rapidly refresh development databases with real-world datasets • Easily support dedicated environments that isolate changes made in branches and allow experimentation • Mask sensitive data upon image creation
  33. 33. Should monitoring be in your initial project? Pros • Visibility into production health • SQL Monitor shows when deployments have occurred, making it easy to track customer impact (good and bad) of changes Cons • If an external team in your organization already controls monitoring, proposing a change may be tricky
  34. 34. In a supported POC, ask for guidance from Redgate • Crafting executive summary • Industry standards for success criteria • Sample schedules & help keeping the team on track
  35. 35. Elements of a technical project pitch • Executive Summary • Business Need • Solution to be Proven • Success Criteria and Long-Term Gains • Prerequisites • Schedule • Team • Other Resources • Risks
  36. 36. Project Schedule Keeps your team moving in sync Helps key stakeholders understand • Target project duration • Key milestones • Proof of concept schedule and core meetings
  37. 37. Identify and approach potential sponsors Who might this project resonate with in your organization? • C-Level • Executive & Senior Managers • Department Heads
  38. 38. Key actions for a sponsor • Help build a coalition of managers and peers • Be visible to employees throughout the project • Communicate the ‘why’ of the change to employees
  39. 39. Messages from sponsors Engage with employees with face-to-face messaging • Video and recordings work when in-person isn’t possible, these are more effective than emails alone Answer questions about the business issues • “Why is this change happening?” • “What is the risk of not changing?”
  40. 40. The goal of a Proof of Concept is demonstrating that the tools achieve your success criteria
  41. 41. Choose your technical champions This team will: • Explore methodologies to standardize database code and choose the best approach for your teams • Set up a proof of concept (POC), safely outside of production • Explore and test automation for provisioning, builds (code validation) and change deployment
  42. 42. A rule for any POC • It must be safe for the team to make a big mess during the process • It must be safe to fail and start over and try again
  43. 43. Avoid these anti-patterns • Causes of failed proof-of-concepts • Not a joint venture • Key stakeholders not involved • Think it will be more labor intensive than it is • Developers leading without manager buy-in • Too much focus on tech benefit vs business benefit • Biting off too much at a time
  44. 44. Once scoped, kick off any required security assessments
  45. 45. A POC doesn’t take 2 months of sustained work The two-three month timeline applies if: • Your internal point team has other duties • You only get a few hours of their time each week Dedicated resource teams have completed Standardize, Automate & Protect POCs in two weeks
  46. 46. SDLC process changes to map
  47. 47. Support practices to map • What team on-call rotations are needed? • How to avoid single-points of failure in the team? • How/when to escalate to subject matter experts?
  48. 48. Shifting change approval left • Shifting change review and approval to earlier in the development cycle speeds you up • First steps: can standard (pre-approved) changes help get you started? • Sponsorship: this is one place where a sponsor who can help you build a coalition will help
  49. 49. Completing your Proof of Concept • Collate results from POC and implementation plan • Finalize licensing • Set target implementation date and schedule first call and support session • Internal presentations about business benefits
  50. 50. When an executive sponsor has been involved from the start, POC sign-off and completion goes very smoothly
  51. 51. Any questions? Ike Ellis @ike_ellis Microsoft MVP Chairperson of the San Diego TIG Book co-author – Developing Azure Solutions Upcoming course on Azure Databricks Crafting Bytes We’re hiring Data Experts!
  52. 52. 314 Redgaters and counting 19 years old 202,000 customers 2m SQL Server Central and Simple Talk users 91% of the Fortune 100 use our tools 6m website visits each year 1286 product releases last year 70 User Groups sponsored About Redgate