The Culture of DevOps

May 13, 2020 Roarke Lynch

It’s pretty clear that the importance of DevOps is widely accepted and many of us in the Salesforce ecosystem are ready to start updating our tech stacks to adopt it. The celebrated benefits of DevOps, however, do not just come from new tooling, but in the way DevOps principles transform an organization's perspective on innovation, risk aversion, and inclusiveness.

The way we work is reflected in our tools, so changing our tools provides us with an opportunity to break out of bad habits we may have fallen into. In particular, DevOps can disrupt three common ways of thinking that surround many of our Salesforce orgs:

  • We think monolithically.
  • We avoid risk and experimentation.
  • We are very suspicious of anyone who can change our org.

It would take another series of articles to cover how these bad habits arise, yet their negative impact on a company's culture and operations are real.

Monolithic thinking – thinking of our orgs as one solid unit, rather than separate composable parts – encourages technical debt and complexity. This thinking contributes to walls, mazes, and barriers that trap us into “single-tracked” development, preventing contributions to our org’s maturity. It’s too costly to try and do several things at once. So, we hold the reigns of our orgs so tight that we discourage experimentation and independence. 

The pain of rollbacks slows us down and we become too risk averse and defensive. It’s also just too hard to create places where failure is free from costly side effects. This posture has the real chance of excluding very smart people from contributing to our orgs because it’s so hard to trust that they won’t throw a spanner in the works accidentally. 

 “When we trust in code (not an environment) 
for what is true, it becomes easy to capture, manage, 
and control the flow of change.”  

- Roarke Lynch, Director, Labs, DevOps, Appirio

DevOps is our opportunity to break out of this trap. The ability to respond to customer demands and the rates of innovation that DevOps has enabled in the wider software industry didn’t just come from some cool scripting and fancy tools. There are many contributing factors, however, a few principles and their cultural side effects are significantly relevant to Salesforce. In DevOps:

  • Environments must be cheap to create and disposable.
  • Code must be the source of truth.
  • Change must be continuous.

When our environments are cheap and we are not afraid to throw them away, it becomes easy to experiment and let others experiment.

 “When we can easily capture and control the flow of change, 
we can make the introduction of change a continuous action.”  

- Roarke Lynch, Director, Labs, DevOps, Appirio


When we trust in code (not an environment) for what is true, it becomes easy to capture, manage, and control the flow of change.

When we can easily capture and control the flow of change, we can make change a continuous action, not something that just happens in bursts from time to time.

DevOps principles provide the foundation to create a culture that encourages and incentivizes:

  • Mentorship
  • Collaboration
  • Inclusion
  • Empowerment
  • Daydreaming
  • Experimentation
  • Openness

These are the drivers of innovation. Our technology makes them possible, but we don’t get them for free.

In my next blog, we are going to look at the gaps and traps that many organizations fall into as they start their DevOps journey.

Have questions? Want to discuss DevOps with our delivery experts? Fill in our contact form to get started.

About the Author

Roarke Lynch

Roarke Lynch is Director of DevOps and Appirio Labs for Appirio’s Products and Innovation team. He is 8x Salesforce certified and has been developing and integrating on the Salesforce platform for over eight years. Roarke is from the Washington D.C. area and now lives with his wife in Houston, TX. In his spare time, you’ll find him chasing his one-year-old, fostering kittens, or geeking out over math, science, and economic innovations.

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