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Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Culture of Trust

(also posted on

Trust is by far the most critical element of a DevOps culture.  It is also the most difficult to achieve.  IT was not built for trust.  The silo structure that is common in most IT organizations was built for specialization and territorial ownership.  The silo walls are thick.

While DevOps may not be able to break down the silos, but it can encourage and groom a culture of trust.

Trust is difficult to define.  We know when we feel it, we know when we don't.   In 1993, Dr. Duane C. Tway, Jr. published a dissertation called "A Construct of Trust".  In it, Dr. Tway defines trust as
“The state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something.”

Dr. Tway believes that trust is actually "constructed" from three basic elements:
  • The capacity for trusting
  • The perception of competence
  • The perception of intentions
The capacity for trusting is how your total life experiences have developed your current capacity and willingness to risk trusting others.

The perception of competence is your perception of your ability and the ability of others with whom you work to perform competently at whatever is needed in the current situation.

The perception of intentions is your perception that the actions, words, direction, mission and decisions are motivated by mutually-serving rather than self-serving motives.

While trust is individual, a culture of trust is organizational.   Both are earned.  DevOps is a great opportunity to look at Dr. Tway's construct of trust and identify small but meaningful opportunities to steadily increase the trust between Dev and Ops including
  • Improved and honest communications
  • Increased personal interaction
  • Honored commitments
  • More listening than talking
  • Frequent knowledge sharing
  • Welcomed input and feedback
  • Admitted mistakes
  • Intolerance of blame
  • Mutual respect
  • A celebration of mutual achievements
What else can you do to create a “state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something” in your organization?  How can you increase a mutual capacity for trusting, perception of competence and perception of intentions?   Perhaps you can start with an honest dialog with and between your Dev and Ops teams.  The answers may be surprising and insightful.

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