DevOps Dojos: Accelerating Digital Transformation

In a market where everyone wants to move faster, see results, and get ahead, there is a powerful call to transform. However, the process of digital transformation itself takes additional time, energy, and countless resources to get teams up to speed and ready to work with a new mindset. Without a focused approach and DevOps Dojos, teams can spend more time in the process of transformation than ever yielding results.

To make their transformations count, organizations worldwide are adopting the concept of DevOps Dojos to get the results they need in an efficient amount of time. 

What is a DevOps Dojo?

Stemming from the Japanese translation, “Place of the way,” Dojos are designed as an immersive training experience to get teams up to speed with their new set of organizational practices. Here they can adopt Agile methodologies, change their methods of operation, and even adopt new technology. 

In each case, a Dojo Coach is assigned to deliver in-depth training, and guide each team to their ultimate success. Just like a martial arts master who oversees his Dojo, these coaches are experts in their craft and ready to raise the team to a higher standard. 

One unique factor of a DevOps Dojo, however, is that the team will undergo training while working on real projects from their personal backlog. By working on their own projects in real time, team members can leave training not only completing additional tasks, but with a greater understanding of how their newfound practices will fit into their daily routine. 

Some of the world’s largest corporations like Target, Delta, and IBM are a testament to the impact of Dojos to achieve transformation on a large scale. In fact, earlier this year, Ross Clanton, Executive Director of Technology Modernization at Verizon, sat down with Veracity to discuss Dojos and the success they’ve brought to the Verizon IT department. You can watch his full webinar here!

Getting Started with DevOps Dojos

While Dojos have a proven track record of success across major corporations, the difficulty lies in implementation. 

Each year, top DevOps experts meet at the DevOps Enterprise Forum to discuss advancements and challenges in the space. This year, they dove into Dojos, trying to determine common roadblocks to the Dojo process, and how organizations can overcome them to find success. As a valued member of the committee, Veracity’s own John Esser contributed heavily to the conversation and to their completed handbook, “Getting Started with Dojos.” Produced by the experts themselves, this handbook is designed to guide organizations to the successful implementation of Dojos in their organizations. 

Here are a few major points they chose to cover:

1. Key Outcomes of a DevOps Dojo

A dojo can serve many unique purposes depending on the needs and characteristics of your organization. According to the experts behind the Dojo Handbook, most transformations will center around four key outcomes:

  • Operating model: shifting from project-centered to a product-centered model
  • Culture: instilling a culture that is both highly empowered and collaborative
  • Technology practices: adopting and improving Agile and DevOps practices 
  • Technology architecture: upgrading to modern technology platforms

Which direction you take will determine which experts you bring in to train your teams and provide focus for which outcomes you hope to achieve within your organization.

2. The DevOps Life Cycle and Formats

A successful Dojo is designed to take team members from their starting point through successful training and ultimately back into their work environment with a new set of skills. A common Dojo lifecycle will typically include the following steps:

  • Consult: a meeting to discuss the purpose of a dojo and offer perspective to teams who may have never encountered a dojo before. In some cases, a Dojo may not be a good fit for the team or coaches involved. This meeting allows both parties to get a feel for the others involved and decide if a Dojo is the right way to proceed. 
  • Charter: Once a team decides to move forward with a dojo, an in-depth meeting is held with all involved parties to discuss the purpose and outcomes they hope to receive from the Dojo. This meeting will involve defined goals and metrics, assessments, and agreements between everyone involved. 
  • Dojo Experience: During this phase, teams enter their most critical part of the Dojo experience as they work directly with coaches in a dedicated Dojo environment. This stage will usually last over a period of several weeks or even months and is preparing team members for their inevitable return to their regular work environment.
  • Release back into the Wild: Once initial training is complete, it’s time for teams to return to their regular work environment with their new set of skills intact. In this stage, teams will reflect on their experiences and share what they’ve learned with others throughout the organization. Then, once teams have had a chance to re-acclimate back into their work environment, Dojo coaches will follow up to see which practices have stuck, and which could use additional training. 

While the Dojo training process requires commitment and cooperation by internal teams, when done correctly, they have the power to transform an organization in a relatively quick amount of time. 

3. How to Create a DevOps Dojo

Finally, the Dojo Handbook covers the specifics of how to create an effective Dojo within your organization. Everything from the work environment to the coaches you select can make or break your Dojo experience. Some of their key tips include:

  • Create a space for learning and fun
  • Select Dojo coaches who fit your needs and areas of expertise
  • Identify characteristics within your team that will yield to optimal Dojo results

The decisions made throughout the Dojo process can have a lasting impact on your organization, for better or worse. Set your organization ahead with the help of DevOps experts and a copy of “Getting Started with Dojos.” Download your free copy with the form on the right, and begin your Dojo journey the right way!

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