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Blog Post

What Real Work Is - A DevOps Perspective By @Automic | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

It's a sign of true character when someone realizes that the real work is the stuff that doesn't feel like work at all

What Real Work Is - A DevOps Perspective

By Kristian Carter

There's a white picket fence in my front garden in Cambridge that gets frosted over every winter, and the paint starts to peel. And every winter, I'll go back every few months, and paint over the areas where the paint has started to get a little scrappy, cut back any weeds, and cut the lawn back.

This is the kind of yard work that takes place everywhere - from Cambridge, England to Cambridge, Massachusetts. In fact, many of us probably don't think of it as work at all. But what would happen if, for some reason, we stopped doing it? The yard would get scrappy, and before too long it would bring down the value of the house.

In our working lives, this kind of work is common. It might be checking a business dashboard here or there, tweaking some copy or making a few phone calls. Not work that we tend to consider glamorous in any way. Yet once again, if we were to stop doing it, our sites and apps would begin to rot quite quickly. The last update on the blog would slip to one week, two weeks, maybe more.

We have this tendency to lionize transformational business results, and the effort and personal sacrifice required to achieve them. According to Quartz the ideal formula for a resume (according to Google) is "I achieved x results relative to y benchmark by doing z." In true Internet style, it's pitched as "the incredible simple formula for a killer resume." It reduces results to a single strategy.

Yet while I'm sure this is an effective formula for a resume, I'm not sure it's the formula for an effective employee. Of many, many corporate mission statements that I've read, Global Radio's perhaps resonates with me the most (emphasis mine):

"Here's to the obsessive ones who have the courage to say when something isn't good enough, here's to the obsessive ones who have the humility to receive those comments well, here's to the obsessive ones who don't walk by anything they can put right themselves..."

Whenever I've been hiring, these have always been the best people. Some people will deliver a complete transformation or business in a weekend, but then not follow it up with meticulous, dedicated action. You'll never really know if they're on form or not, but you'll indulge the errant ‘genius' because you know they're capable of that moment of magic.

It's a sign of true character when someone realizes that the real work is the stuff that doesn't feel like work at all. That understands the need to check the analytics dashboard daily and act upon it, the one who is perceptive enough to understand when something can be tweaked and improved, the one who never, ever takes ‘good enough' as the final outcome.

Think of the reams and reams of business books that have been written over the last thirty years about organizational change, the way we love to drop in phrases like ‘business leader.' The cult of the C-suite and expense accounts. The way every damn resume for the past thirty years has been written.

Now look at the business books that have been influential over the past few years. Books like ‘The Lean Startup' which promote constant tinkering (or in business speak, ‘iteration') and learning. Books like Ben Horowitz's "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" about having the iron discipline to make smart decisions every day. How about the DevOps phenomenon, which is all about constant data-driven decision-making and course correction?

The future belongs to yard work. It belongs to the work that doesn't feel glamorous. It belongs to the work that goes un-noticed and unheeded. It belongs to the people who don't count and log and focus on ‘ending' their 10,000 hours, they just do them and realize that the real magic happens along the way.

It belongs to the idea that the real value and the real work is the work that doesn't feel like work at all.

Read the original blog entry...

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Automic, a leader in business automation, helps enterprises drive competitive advantage by automating their IT factory - from on-premise to the Cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things.

With offices across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, Automic powers over 2,600 customers including Bosch, PSA, BT, Carphone Warehouse, Deutsche Post, Societe Generale, TUI and Swisscom. The company is privately held by EQT. More information can be found at