I was running a DevOps Foundation course 2 weeks ago for a client and I was explaining the meaning of technical debt and cultural debt. As the conversations in the room unfolded, it became very clear to me, that every system and object in the universe starts to accrue debt. So what is debt? I'll illustrate this over a beer......
Let's take a simple object, like a beer glass. It starts it's life as silicon, is put through a manufacturing process and out pops the magical beer glass at the end. From this point onwards, it undergoes constant change. To the naked eye, this is largely invisible, but with glass in particular, over time it begins to degrade. If I were to leave the glass somewhere safe for 1000 years, the glass would have deteriorated. This is a form of debt.
On a much shorter timeframe, I would also use the glass, maybe put it in the dishwasher, handwash and dry the glass.. This too degrades the glass. It can become scratched by the dishwasher process. Pieces might break off, during use. I might even accidentally smash the glass, after a big night of drinking. I'm sure many of you have done that. I'll just finish the night with a glass of water....crash!
If you accept that all objects degrade, then that is a form of debt. Because if the debt is not managed properly it can lead to problems:
This same concept, can also be applied to systems. Here is an example of a pictoresque, natural system.
A system is an interconnection of 2 or more things:
And for those that are technical....here is a great link explanining entropy in more detail:
The key takeaway from all this, is that once you understand that every system incurs debt, you can then shift your life around how to manage that debt. Which means whenever you delay some form of action or maintenance task, you're accruing debt, which will need to be paid back. Leave it too long, and the debt becomes progressively difficult to service. Over-servicing is bad too, as it's inefficient.
Let's use another great example to illustrate this concluding point. A car is considered a reasonably complex system. Most people own a car and it's certainly one of the most complex systems to manage.
If I ignore any faults that the car develops, and don't ensure it is regularly serviced. Then it will degrade and it will stop functioning. This might take months or years.
If on the other hand, I fix any critical faults immediately, ensure it is serviced once a year as per the manual, and tend to minor faults as required, I am effectively arresting the debt on the car. Some things I can't control though, such as the wearining of the engine and other critical parts, maybe degradation of the paint finish and any rust that may accrue. However I can slow the accrual of debt on those things by:
So next time, you're thinking about making economic decisions. Don't just consider the price point. Consider the total costs of ownership of your decision and factor in the accrual of debt in the equation. Remember that debt, will always need to be paid back. And a poor economic decision will compound that debt.
Click on the link below to check out ALC Training 25 year journey....in the realm of training and coaching.....
I'm not a big fan of the word trainer. For me personally, it has connotations of someone standing up at the front of a large classroom....fully of people. And that person talks for 7 hours, asks a few questions, and goes home. That's probably because I have some bad memories of old skool trainers when I started my career around 20 odd years ago....and so I vowed never to be one of those. I just feel the word trainer....get's a bad rap.
So....what is a digital coach?
For the record, I have never seen anyone else use this to describe what I do....and I hope that many people in the future, become inspiried by my work and improve on the digital coach role I have aspired to create. For me it's about a few simple things:
If you're interested in understand more about digital transformation....and how to do it really well.....check out my blog at ALC Training here:
If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a private message on LinkedIn. Click on the image below to be taken to my LinkedIn page:
Understanding your value stream is the key to delighting customers. A value stream is the abstraction of a business process, from customer attraction through to customer delivery. It applies to products and services and usually comprises of between 6 and 9 steps.
Here is an example of an online purchase value stream.
This value stream example is fairly simple and most people can relate to this. Because most of us have partaken in on-line shopping with eBay, Amazon, Paypal or all 3 three.
Let me give you a very complex example. A Hospital Emergency Admission Value Stream:
I picked this one, because most people have been in a hopsital, and can understand what is involved. As you can see, the business processes that would underpin say, intensive care, would have many 1000's of pathways. Each pathway would depend on the condition of the patient, any pre-existing conditions, such as allergies, the type of trauma or disease, and how the patient maybe responding to treatment.
It would also vary depending on whether it was a metropolitan hospital based in Brisbane, with top-notch medical equipment. As opposed to a regional hospital, say based in Alice Springs, that may be limited by the level of available skills and also the reduced set of medical equipment available. By the way all staff working in hospitals, do an incredible job! Just saying....
From the hospital emergency admission value stream, we can decompose into people and systems. The following diagram is taken from the Scaled Agile Framework, known as SAFe and shows how we might do this:
You'll notice that this value stream example is another example of a hospital admission. You can clearly see that different words are used and the process is slightly different. This one relates to a US hospital admission. Value streams will reflect the culture of an organisation, through the selection of language, and will also vary depending on the industry and geography. This is normal and is a reflection of the complexity we're trying to represent.
Once we understand all the core systems that underpin a value stream, we can then focus on development value streams, which are also known as a CI/CD pipeline, that we discuss in a DevOps culture:
Here is a quick definition from the Scaled Agile Framework:
Once all our people are grouped into one or more Agile Release Trains, we are on a great path for successful digital transformation. Since we have now aligned our people, processes and technology towards delighting our customers.
Interested in learning more. Simply click my picture below and reach out via LinkedIn:
Let's play devil's advocate here and assume that governments do not need to undergo a digital transformation. What could possibly go wrong:
I'm going to pull in a number of learnings from 2 courses I run: DevOps Foundation and Leading SAFe. Click on the pictures below to see the course outlines:
I believe those stories are just the start. So what can governments do to prevent these extreme forms of disruption. Well....there are two weaknesses that need to be rectified:
There are many ways to overcome those 2 achilles heals....here are 3 methods to help:
Understand who your customer is?
This involves understanding the key steps of the high-level process. From our first client interaction to when a product or service is delivered and value is consumed. We call this a value stream:
More importantly. Everyone in your organisation needs to understand who the customer is. Not just the people at the end of the value stream, but change their mindset when dealing with their colleagues.
A customer is someone who consumes your work. So if you're a System Architect, the System Engineers consume your work and are therefore your customers. If you are a project manager and you have to produce executive reporting, those execs are your customer. If you're a SCRUM master servant leader, then your dev team are your customers. If you're a developer your testers are your customers.
By shifting your mindset to a customer focused mentality, it will force you never to compromise on quality and your customer at the end of the value stream, will have the best possible experience. Here is some more guidance for further thinking:
Make Yourself and your work Visible and Transparent
That means open yourself up to criticism and learning. Be open and honest in your communications. When you author a document, make it clear you are the contributor, so that people can reach out to you and discuss the content. Some of my most fantastic opportunities in life, have come from being visible and transparent.
Other forms of transparency include:
I have 5 more practices that can help governments too. These include:
It's been on my bucketlist of a few years now...and finally I got to show the world, that I can stand-up for 5 minutes and make an audience laugh....well at least entertain them and hold them for a few minutes. Thank you to the awesome Fiona McGary, who is a legendary full-time professional comedian. The full video is embedded below:
So why did I do it? Well I love adventures and this was a incredible journey....which is only just beginning. I also had nothing to lose.
Really? I hear you scream. But you've built a reputation on many professional fronts:
That last point is really important. We are all programmed that we need to get an education...to get a job....to pay the bills....and live. Nothing wrong with that. But there is another way. Instead of focusing on career, money, big house.....focus on:
Let's rethink our whole human being and focus on maximising the positive impact you have on this planet....in the very short time you have. This brings me to 3 sustainable development goals, that are guiding principles to the 3 questions above. Click on each picture to see what it means and how it fits in the world....
But that's the topic of another blog!
If you're i Interested in giving stand-up comedy a go?
Check out the aweseome Fiona McGary workshop by clicking the picture below. As you can see it's all about fun, positivity and learning....
Paul Colmer is a digital coach for ALC training and consulting, with a real passion for learning and applying disruptive technologies. Paul has responsibility for building and delivering ALC's digital architecture strategy and the development and execution of a number of cloud courses, including Cloud Security (CCSP), Amazon AWS, DevOps, Microsoft Azure and Office 365.