DevOps Culture: The Neuroscience of Behavior

Brains: the zombie’s dinner of choice, the DevOps teams’ secret weapon?

Helen Beal (@HelenRanger4) of Ranger4 presented an intriguing session at the Nexus User Conference answering just that question. Drawing parallels between neuroscience, psychology, and team dynamics, Helen shared how the understanding our brains can lead the DevOps cultural shift.

Can’t Change Culture, Can Change Behavior

Culture — the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization — wields tremendous influence.

The problem:

“You can’t directly change culture. But you can change behavior, and behavior becomes culture” – Lloyd Taylor

Unsurprisingly, behavior shifts originate in the squishy interior of the brain. Can it be controlled? Nudged?

DevOps Learning and Unlearning

Helen points to Gene Kim’s book, The Phoenix Project. In it, a high performing organization is a dynamic learning organization. In a DevOps context continuous learning isn’t optional.

Similarly, Barry O’Reilly underscores the requirement of “unlearning”. He defines this as “the conscious act of letting go of outdated information” and “actively gathering new information to inform effective decision making and action.” Example: moving from a waterfall environment to DevOps.

Helen details the paradox: our brain shapes our learning, but our learning shapes our brains. Our brain’s plasticity is greatly influenced by our mindset. A “growth mindset” (“I can learn more”) is a growing brain. A “fixed mindset” (“I’m done learning”) is a shrinking, ineffective brain.

Additionally, our brains’ working memory can only handle 3-4 chunks of new information at a time. Learning something new is tiring. Until a new skill becomes automatic, and moves into a different part of the brain for storage, it continues to be a challenge. Practice is key to consolidate newly learned mental processes.

This is why people moving from waterfall to Agile may feel awkward (Read more...)

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Sonatype Blog authored by Katie McCaskey. Read the original post at: https://blog.sonatype.com/devops-culture-the-neuroscience-of-behavior