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DevOps Teams, Value Stream Management

Reflections from DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 with Carmen DeArdo

Published By Patrick Anderson
Reflections from DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 with Carmen DeArdo

Most enterprises do not yet think of their delivery pipeline as a product. When I mentioned this concept to a few folks, they literally slapped themselves on the head and said something like “that makes so much sense and it so simple, why didn’t we think of that!” – Carmen DeArdo, Tasktop

It’s been a week since the lively and deeply enriching DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 in Las Vegas came to a thundering close, giving us some time to digest and reflect on yet another successful event by the IT Revolution team.

I caught up with Carmen DeArdo, Tasktop’s Senior Value Stream Strategist, about his experience at the event, including his favourite speaker sessions, the event’s major themes, noteworthy conversations he had with the DevOps community, and the launch of our CEO Mik Kersten’s eagerly-awaited book Project To Product and the pioneering the Flow Framework™.

Missed the action? You can catch up in our recap blogs from Day One and Day Two, as well as TechBeacon’s event review from Electric Cloud’s Anders Walgren.

Hi Carmen, so what were the big topics for you at DOES 2018?

Burnout was a big topic. While this has been touched upon since the conference’s inception in 2014, and is one of the driving forces in what motivates Gene Kim to help improve the lives of the “40 Million IT workers across the planet”, the topic has never been featured like it was at this conference.  

“Project to Product”, of course, was also a huge overarching theme. Most enterprises do not yet think of their delivery pipeline as a product. When I mentioned this concept to a few folks, they literally slapped themselves on the head and said something like “that makes so much sense and it so simple, why didn’t we think of that?”

To start thinking “horizontally” across the value stream from the bottom of the Flow Framework (see below), requires thinking about your tools as a product. Left to their own devices, entropy reigns and companies end up with a multitude of disconnected tools and disparate activities. The best one can hope for in these situations is some siloed local optimizations – Agile helping teams to build urgent/important features faster, DevOps helping accelerate “commit to cloud” – but what about everything else that impacts the total end-to-end flow time of a product’s development from ideation to operation?

I could also see that the gap is widening between those high-performing enterprises that “get it” when it comes to value streams, flow and product-thinking, and those who still haven’t started their journeys. In the Lean Coffee sessions I facilitated, I heard transformational stories that I would have expected to hear in 2014, not 2018. On a more positive note, it was these companies that really stood up and listened when we started to talk about what impedes flow and value. 

What were your favourite moments?

Anything that own very own Dominica DeGrandis touched! I have never seen anybody so loved by the community. Even if people aren’t thinking product just yet, they understood Dominica’s clear message of flow, visibility and having their time pilfered.

Judging by the popularity of Dominica’s presentation, Lean Coffee sessions, and book signing, “Making Work Visible” is striking a chord.

Dominica and I had some conversations with attendees at the booth, or in the breaks, who knew that things in their company weren’t right and were almost desperate for help. That’s so encouraging to see as it means people are being proactive and want to see the light. You can read more on Dominica’s experience at DOES 2018 in her blog below:


From my own experience at my former company Nationwide, I know how powerful having the Value Stream Architecture diagram blown up on our wall was. It really helped the light go on for many folks on what it means to start to think about modeling a value stream. And combining that with the concepts of the Flow Framework provides the perfect combination to why integration and modeling is so critical to enabling flow.

Have you mapped your Value Stream Architecture? Click image to map out how value flows through your IT organization.
Mara Puisite, from Tasktop’s Pre-Sales Engineering team, demos Tasktop Integration Hub to 100+ attendees. “Managers need data to believe their people.”

As ever, Jon Smart’s talk was awesome and hit at another key topic related to happiness which was “Give people a voice”. Empowerment at many companies has become an empty term of another way to camouflage command or control or Taylorism. Giving people a voice means giving them some choices in key areas such as tools.

The 2018 State of DevOps Report makes it clear that teams which can choose their own tools are happier and more productive, however it is not cost effective for larger enterprises to support an unlimited number of tools. As Jon explained, his former role (at Barclays) was to provide guardrails for which teams were empowered to operate within.

One dimension of staying on the road is to provide a choice of tools for a given area like Agile management (e.g. LeanKit, Jira, Trello etc.). Again, this supports Tasktop’s vision around modeling to not only accommodate a broader choice but to also strangle tools out during periods of transition.

How did your own session go?

It was a pleasure to speak with René Te-Strote of BMW Group about the amazing work they are doing in moving to a Product model, and the role technology plays in the design and production of awesome cars like the i8 which was on display during the event.

Tasktop – the driving force behind BMW Group’s solution to integrate their software delivery supply chain, creating cars like the stunning i8.

BMW is featured in Mik’s book, and it’s clear from spending time with René how forward thinking the company is in applying technology to everything from car design to their apps and also to the simulation models used to improve car safety. In my session with René, he painted a clear picture of what traditional enterprises have to do to remain at the vanguard of innovation and be successful.

BMW is no longer simply an automobile company, but rather a leading provider of personalized mobility services. From DriveNow, ReachNow, ParkMobile and beyond, BMW possesses a jaw-dropping worldwide collaborative network of people. As René said, “That’s a tremendous amount of data to contend with and a lot of software – our vehicles are basically moving computers.”

The BMW Group uses Tasktop to connect all their huge software delivery supply chain, including their global partners, to support this massive transformational undertaking. “Our aim is to be truly Agile in every conceivable way, from our products to IT to the business,” René said in our talk. “We must bring all of this closer together to be able to deliver the best products quickly and to adapt them to our customers’ changing needs.”

Standing room only for Tasktop’s Nicole Bryan and Nationwide’s Kevin Fisher session on “Project To Product” in action.

Last but not least, Nicole Bryan’s talk with Nationwide’s Kevin Fisher – Nationwide: Project to Product—Practical Realities at Large Scale Enterprises – was the most crowded breakout talk I saw at the event! Dozens of folks stood for the session, and both Nicole and Kevin were inundated with questions afterwards. As you can see from the photo above, a picture says a thousand words…

Finally, what was the response to Mik’s upcoming book and the Flow Framework?

Mik in full “flow” during his packed keynote on Day One of DOES 2018.

Mik’s presentation and message were beyond a grand slam in resonating with executives.  There is no doubt that CIO, CEOs and eventually CFOs will see this as a way through the “Turning point”.  So the book and Mik’s continued message will drive top down interest in the Flow Framework and Value Stream Management. You only have to watch the video of Mik’s presentation to see why it made such a profound impact.

One of the elements that makes the Flow Framework so powerful is its connection with the happiness of the team. In his session and in his book, Mik does a masterful job explaining how he used Flow metrics to correlate too much WIP with a lower level of happiness, and that this turned around when WIP was managed appropriately.  “Sustainable pace” is a key Lean/Agile principle and many organizations don’t have a way to determine what that pace is (and believe me, it’s not points or story points!).

What to learn more about Project To Product and the Flow Framework?

Tasktop Connect 2018

Join Mik Kersten and the rest of the Tasktop team at the second Tasktop Connect (Washington, DC, December 6, 2018). Learn best practices for achieving end-to-end visibility and traceability across your software development and delivery value stream, and how the Flow Framework will enable your company’s evolution from project-oriented dinosaur to product-centric innovator that thrives in the Age of Software. Register by clicking the image below.

Click image to register for Tasktop Connect 2018

Watch Mik’s keynote from DOES 2018


Pre-order Project To Product

Click image to pre-order a copy!

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Written by Patrick Anderson

Patrick is Senior Content Manager at Tasktop and oversees the company's content and thought leadership programs. Outside the office, you’ll find him reading, writing, slapping some bass (poorly), rambling in nature and following his English football (soccer) team, West Ham United.