DevOps: Innovate Through Feedback

While working over 20 years in consulting, I’ve learned that one thing holds true: If you don’t respond to change, you’ll eventually be overtaken by your competitors.

Customers want something new and different, a better way of interacting with the world. This emotion drives “change” and “change” drives us (or it should, anyway).

So why is it that sometimes we simply fail to respond to change?

One reason may be because we don’t respond appropriately to feedback. Feedback is the change agent. How you respond to feedback ultimately determines your organizational success.

There are multiple types of feedback we need to respond to:

Organizational: This type of feedback is from inside or outside your organization. Without this feedback, you run the risk of alienating employees, customers or even your leadership.

Analytical: This type of feedback is typically from your internal systems of record. As such, this is more quantitative in nature. From reporting to AI, each of these processes builds out an analytical picture of the world.

Monetary: Though more tangible than the other types of feedback, this is how most organizations tend to measure their success. If nobody buys your product or service, is it really worth it?

With this in mind, let’s look at a hypothetical organization called “ABC Widgets.” This organization has been in business for 15 years and they’ve got a new idea (widget) to bring to market. After much thought and consideration, the leadership of ABC Widgets think a new mobile widget will bring tremendous value to their customers. They spend years developing this mobile widget and a vast amount of human capital to bring it to market. When they go to launch the product, they have limited success and finally pull the product from the market. It’s a huge defeat and leadership starts pointing fingers. The only feedback was the monetary feedback loop.

The problem: Hope is not a strategy. You cannot and should not “assume” that you or your leadership knows what the customer wants. Until you get out and talk to your true end-customers, it’s only going to be a guessing game. You cannot rely on one feedback loop.

In contrast, let’s look at another organization, we’ll call this organization “XYZ Widgets.” This organization has been in business for roughly three years. They spend two months developing a mobile widget prototype based on feedback they garnered from online customer surveys and executive input, and they even ran some analytics to build a case. They didn’t rely on just their analytics alone; instead, they used all the feedback mechanisms available to them to build a prototype. Come launch day, this prototype has limited success. Turns out, it was a simple design flaw.

A potential problem: XYZ Widgets assumes their customers know what they want. This is an issue because if you build prototypes to meet all of your customer feedback, you may end up with feature creep, which means most of the features aren’t even going to be used.

Instead of spending two months building another prototype, XYZ Widgets sends out a follow-up survey to test their assumptions with questions such as, “How likely are you to use this feature?” The best part is they didn’t have to spend any money or a significant amount of time in exchange for this valuable insight.

While it may be more tedious and time-consuming to gather various types of feedback, there is value in incorporating it throughout your development process rather than relying only on metrics.

Is your organization struggling to incorporate feedback into your DevOps practice? We can help you improve efficiency and quality at every point on the DevOps continuum, and across the entire DevOps stack. Contact us to learn more.

By |2020-01-20T08:29:25-06:00January 20th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on DevOps: Innovate Through Feedback

About the Author:

Greg Peters is a Business Agility Lead Solution Specialist at Sirius.