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Arrested DevOps: State of Devops 2019

Released Thursday, 26th September 2019
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In this episode, hosts Jessica Kerr and Matty Stratton are joined by guests Dr. Nicole Forsgren and Mr. Jez Humble, two of the authors of the 2019 Accelerate State of DevOps report.

Historical Context

The panel discusses the history and purpose of the report. This is the sixth year it has been produced. How did the report start and what questions is it seeking to answer?

Nicole: “Once upon a time, kids, making software was sad. Making software used to light people on fire!”

Nicole: “So why do we even do this DevOps thing? It’s because we want to make that software process easier and better.”

Jez: “These approaches have worked even in highly regulated environments. They’ve worked everywhere.”

Nicole explains that capabilities and practices are more important than tools.

Nicole: “There’s no such thing as DevOps in a box.”

The group discusses the limitations of systems data vs survey data, and the importance of collecting both. Survey data is low resolution but high signal and vice versa.

Jez: “Over-precision is something that’s a real problem in our industry.”

Nicole: “How to Measure Anything” - Douglas W. Hubbard

The panel discusses the importance of starting from hypotheses instead of looking for any spurious correlations that exist in highly related systems.

What’s New This Year?

The panel discusses some of this year’s findings. The “retail apocalypse” over the last decade has had some surprising effects. Regulation has less of an impact than many industries assume.

Jez: “We do see high performers in large companies who are highly regulated.”

Matt: “People will sit there and say well, I have over 5000 employees and I can’t DevOps so now I have an excuse, and that’s not the case.”


Change management processes are one of the key areas of difference between large and small enterprises. Jez discusses how to make that process more lightweight even in a large organization.

Jez: “Risk is also about upside risk. If you can’t move fast at delivering software, that’s a risk to your business.”

The panel discusses the importance of keeping a holistic view even in a large enterprise with specialized roles.

Nicole: “You go from change management theater to strategic change management for a massive organization. It’s scary but it is also dope!”

The report has found year after year that a slower change management process can paradoxically result in more instability, not less. The panel discusses the reasons this experiment was not successful and how enterprises can implement more nimble processes going forward.


The panel talks about what productivity actually means. The report uses an interesting definition: “Productivity is the ability to get complex, time-consuming tasks completed with minimal distractions and interruptions.”

Nicole: “You may be just closing the tickets that are meaningless but are easy to close.”

Research shows that real productivity reduces burnout and improves work-life balance. The group discusses how to separate that real productivity from gamification and busywork.
Jez talks about scaling up and how centers of excellence may not be as useful as previously thought. Nicole points out that the report has given a lot of starting points for people to begin making changes in their organization.

Remember to read the report!

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