A long time ago but not too long ago when DevOps had not yet reached us, I ended up into this story about attitude!
In a country not so far away we were making a country wide change and it was a prestige full combat between the biggest companies to make the prime minister use their company’s system first.
The prime minister would make the test early the first day of the new year’s morning, and we were starting the first initial preparation 8 months before this date.
This was the third time our company did a similar project, but it was the first time I was involved as an expert.
And as I am an improver, I wanted things to be improved and be more practical and convenient, and to be done by fewer people.
And guess what happened? I got a lot of punches and hard feelings, but the prime minister used our system first.
I am far from the one that made this possible but I made it possible, let me tell you my story.
In spring time, I got allocated to the third project we had of the same kind, and it was immediately a big debate why I was assigned and not one of the five people assigned to the first two projects. Not all five experts from previous projects was in the company as they had left which was one of the reason, it was only 3 of the expert people left and I was not one of them.
I am a knowledge hungry person, so I started to ask questions, what are your expectations on us, what shall we do and when shall it be done.
That was a bad idea, I should have been more like the former resources, just played along and followed order.
But that is not who I am.
The good thing was that I gained a lot of knowledge of intention, activities, expectations and plans.
So I started to make my own plan.
My plan was that I should not be doing the work during New Year’s Eve when the system was going live, it should be done by the people that had to be online during New Year’s Eve for other reasons.
I failed with by ambition .
But not totally, I made a huge change and I made something I am very proud of.
But let’s get into the story.
I joined the project in the end of the spring, and this project was running in one of the countries we have business in, as a main provider of services.
As I am not from the same region, we have cultural differences, so when I joined in I had this in mind and reflected on my learnings from other project I had been running or participated in before, like in when I was project manager in Malaysia and USA, but you know each region and country has its own specific things and also a history and human relations.
But you always have to learn new things and understand each country and regions history including your history with this region and country in terms of business relation and human relations.
There was a lot of demands of the type ASAP, I had to do this and that at any time and it had to happened ASAP, this was a cultural difference compared to other projects where I was more used to planning and softer wordings and cooperation.
I started to prepare and work with my own organisation together with my manager to find a new way of working, my suggestion was to utilize the automation platform that I had built up and implemented during the last two years in a better way.
The automation platform I had built up was partly used during the previous project, but was only used by our experts, so my goal was to make this project executed the tasks by non-experts and service owners that had to be online anyway during the production setting.
Make the ones that had the demand possible also to execute it with no handover and delays waiting for resources like me, in other words eliminate any potential bottlenecks by making it possible for more people to execute the tasks in a predefined way and automated.
I prepared documentation in terms of detailed instructions so that anyone could follow them and execute them. I made the automation platform and automated processes available for the service owners and non-experts that would work during the release night.
So I informed the project about this change of that we were not going to provide 5 experts as had been done for previous project that had to work for more than 24 hours to meet the goal, I said that we will provide 2 experts that would be on call for the 24 hours if somethings were not working as intended and the rest of the work would be done my non experts from us and from the service organisation.
And the solution that would make this possible was my clear and concise instructions that was a step by step instruction that could had been followed by any one and our automation platform.
The project got really upset and called to a large meeting with many upper managers, and forced me to be there to be blamed to be the one causing that the project would fail.
I had no other choice than attending to this meeting, with a bad feeling.
Project manager as they usually are, was very verbal and in a few minutes had blamed me for everything including all I had not intended to do
There was a lot of voices pointing out, that we should stick to the way we had done the previously projects, with the experts as they had all knowledge in their heads and no need for any documentations and instructions or new way of working. And that it was our responsibility to execute all the tasks and not the service owners.
I am who I am so I presented my solution with automation and why documentation was the key to success, and pointed out that people can get sick, have accidents and that it is important that we have good documentation and a clear step by step instructions, so that we have something to follow when it is stressful and we should not have to think about what or how things shall be done during production settings.
And I also explained the benefits for the services owners to be able to execute the tasks when they needed them to be executed without waiting for someone else.
So it was in the end accepted, that I would provide instructions and the automation even due there was a lot of voices saying that it had been better that the experts were there as they had everything in their heads.
I tuned our automation, created instructions, and trained the people. The naming of the processes varied even if they were doing the same thing, so this was one of the things I had scheduled to correct during the project so all processes had same names and argument and argument orders in the process start-up forms to make things homogeneous.
Two month later we made the automation process change to make everything look consistent, instructions was updated and people informed, but some instructions was missed or had typos.
This now was causing a new meeting with less managers this time, where I had to defend the change and apologize for the necessary but critical change we had done in the automation process and documentation.
I got really criticized! But do you know I was so proud, this was such a victory for me.
Yes, I was heavily criticized, but I had informed the project during spring that this was going to happen so it was planned, but I was responsible for that new instructions had not reached all resources and that we had errors in some instructions.
So I honoured the blames that was on me, and I reacted on it and made the right corrections of the instructions and trained the people to secure that everyone understood what we had done and how it now was working.
But what made me proud was that the project was screaming on me about errors in instructions which was preventing the project service owners the projects non techies the projects non experts from doing their job.
So after the meeting I did something very unusual for me, I went to the coffee machine browed a cup of tea and just hanged in the sofa in the coffee area for a half an hour or so, just digesting the victory.
What had I done?
It was a wow feeling, I realized at that point what I really had done, I had made a paradigm shift, I do not think the project realised it or understood it at that point, but we changed from being expert dependent to be being instruction dependent. And I had moved the execution of the tasks from a few experts to many non-experts. We also had a solid automation platform that we could rely on.
We had also freed up the experts so that instead of being burned out during production setting they was going to be fresh in the morning after the production setting, sleeping all night and ready to solve any issues after the production setting.
Automation and instructions and training, made the difference.
The project was a success.
I and another expert spent together 4 hours of specialist support during the 24 hour go live period compared to 5 expert people for 24 hours that was needed for previous project.
The reflection I made from this journey was that, it is possible to influence people, you need to have knowledge, you need to make some hard work.
But the essential is that you have to have a good attitude, with attitude you can make changes that even bridge over cultural differences and you need to have a mind-set of looking for improvements.
Let’s make some value mathematics lets calculation, the value of some words
THEN we can say that
So knowledge has a value of 96
So hard work has a value of 98
BUT what about Attitude?
Attitude has a value of 100
This proves that you need the right attitude to reach a value of 100% and to reach your goal