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Meet Mr. Barker, IT Manager

Bio: Male, age 45, hails from London, England
Twenty years in IT services and support with an MBA and IT degrees

Mr. Barker is one of our key characters in our upcoming book, he is also a key stakeholder and decision maker for a DevOps adoption and agile transformation program at his company. Mr. Barker is notorious for his command and control management style and he loves to let people know when they royally screwed up. He is a no-nonsense, intelligent and a slightly closed off kind of personality however he works very hard and likes to deliver quality. Mr. Barker is a loyal chap and wants to impress his Boss Mr. Maverick the CIO and thus he is willing to jump in with both feet to impress and stay in his Bosses’ good graces, which leads to sometimes getting over his head and Mr. Barker never admitting to making a mistake.

Mr. E. J. Barker

A story about Mr. Barker (this is for context for an upcoming article on, May 2019, entitled “5 values for the DevOps Mindset”). Perhaps you can relate to this story… one of several I am sure we will add over the course of the development of the book in 2019.

Why we need a DevOps mindset, a Mr. Barker tale

It was 5:30 pm, Mr. Barker the IT Director, was finishing up his monthly report in front of the leadership team when the Marketing Director Ms. Sellit, interrupted him.  “You promised us the last three months we would have our marketing digital channel up and running.”  “I know, I know,” said Mr. Barker, with all the strength he could muster “We have been dealing with many disruptions, new mobile phones, new security updates to our products and data compliance demands.”  “You mean, to say,” Ms. Sellit said callously, “You are too busy to keep up! I thought your teams were agile and we started this DevOps thing.”  Mr. Barker winced, Ms. Sellit continued, “Which none of us understand and now performance seems worse? “That’s not true!” said Mr. Barker raising his voice, “we have increased our overall performance and quality at least 20%, despite continued delays from your team!”, he said defensively, “our customers are demanding more from us, faster and better than our competition,” said Ms. Sellit, and the rest of the Directors all nodded profusely.  

Wow, Mr. Barker and his stakeholders are facing a dilemma, the need to change how they work, to deal with disruptive processes like time to market, and technologies which are changing at a rapid pace.  Unfortunately, terms like Agile and DevOps are “overloaded” & “oversold” that is they mean different things to everyone, and because of this, the definition and complexity behind the rationale of using these terms means many terms are dependent on context.  Many folks in both Business and IT turn to the easier conversation around the “silver bullet” as the answer such as a particular technology, framework of the month, or other tool that can be purchased; or worse yet created from scratch.  Thus, the ongoing problem of leadership and middle management, not facing the hard questions which, lies in having critical conversations means we are missing the mindset, rationale and enablement required for changing how we work.  This is an ongoing, long term roadmap of improvements that enables agility, brings teams and silos together by increasing collaboration across the enterprise.  

The first step to adopting Agile & DevOps is the learning, practicing and sharing the mindset, why? Without first understanding why and how we work, the way we work, we won’t make much traction in our ability to improve IT delivery, service, support and keep up with the only constant, change!

Link to article forthcoming… stay tuned!

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Born 1965, San Antonio, Texas and lives in Dallas, Tx.
Mr. James, Ronald, Maverick holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at The University of Texas, San Antonio.

Mr. Maverick or JR as many call him is a “slick” but warm and friendly character in our upcoming book on the DevOps Mindset. Mr. Maverick cares about his IT team very much and could charm the socks off a Texas Longhorn. JR is liked by many in his organization; however, he is not as well trusted by the Overlords as he used to be. Mr. Maverick has a group of loyal staff, including Mr. Barker a bit of an opposite to JR. Of course, Mr. Barker would never call him JR; he would only call him Mr. Maverick because well, Mr. Maverick is his boss. Mr. Maverick has held many IT positions in the past, including starting as a Sales Professional for HP and IBM mini and mainframe computers. Over the years he has risen through the ranks to hold this senior position by delivering using high-paid consultants and Big name firms. He also received his promotion from outsourcing to a foreign country where he was able to reduce his IT spend significantly. Recently he has discovered (actually this was made painfully aware to him by the Overlords) that both the Offshore roadmap and use of external consultants was not giving him the value and velocity for his IT department, and he was probably paying more than he bargained for

So, after hearing a talk at a DevOps event by the Agents of Chaos, JR decided to enlist them to help with their digital transformation roadmap and help improve the value, focus and velocity of his department. However, MR. Maverick has a few ideas about agile and DevOps, something he has heard about for a while and read in various CIO magazines; he thinks of these as Marketing terms and something that can be bought. While Mr. Maverick has held on for many years to traditional IT ways of working he has come to the end of his tenure if he doesn’t do something fast and get DevOps working quickly as he has promised to the Overlords providing him with a little more rope to get the transformation completed more quickly as they view his IT department ageing, procrastinators who are not able to keep up with business demands. JR says in his mind, “I will get it done, they don’t call me Maverick for nothing!“