Conflicting principles

A client was developing a set of principles to guide a DevOps transformation and I proposed the two following principles to be included:

  • Honour existing processes, records, and controls. They arose for a reason.
  • Streamline and simplify all processes, records, and controls. Challenge the level of ceremony.

These principles are in conflict with each other deliberately in order to create a dilemma, a tension between two opposing forces, because this is reality. The tension is there to ensure Evolution not Revolution: to make sure that the existing structures are not destroyed losing essential mechanisms, that we don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Also the first principle is there as a gesture of respect to those present in the organisation who have served to evolve the legacy systems, in order to ensure that change is presented to them as non-threatening.

The tension is resolved as we “streamline”: we do this by applying Lean to the problem. Lean will soon identify the unnecessary activities.

You will always have conflicting principles because the world is complicated. Those who think that principles should be entirely consistent with each other should stick to mathematics.

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