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In his book, "Reinventing organizations", Frederic Laloux describes a historical evolution of organizations and their systems of internal structure, management and values.

Where will an organization place on this chart when it would adopt a set of DevOps best practices and culture recommendations? Which stage of development is a target for DevOps practices and what development of the organization is being achieved? Does it correspond to this model?

Laloux organization development chart

Here is a picture of the Laloux Culture Model:

Laloux Culture Model

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This question perfectly illustrates the different approaches in adopting DevOps by organizations. While both approaches target the 3rd circle on the culture model - the traditional corporations - there is a difference in aim and results.

  1. Adopt DevOps best practices and tools for increased effectiveness.
  2. Adopt DevOps culture and values for organizational transformation.

Established corporations often aim at (1) and either omit or fail to adopt (2). They will still gain increased effectiveness and improved organizational key performance indicators, but they will fundamentally stay at the orange level of organizational development, failing to undergo the transformation. Such transformation always requires an existential threat to the organization and those are rarely recognized and acted upon until there is too late for the organization to transform.

New organizations and organizations with new leadership have an easy way to focus on (2) and so they either are raised up at the new developmental stage or manage to successfully seed business units operating with new culture and values that either subsume the entire organization eventually or the old business units slowly decay and whither while the new ones take over a large bulk of the business. It is almost like a parent passing his family business to a child who has been raised with different values and more progressive ideas.

Either way, you can say that DevOps as it is understood today, operates between the orange and green layer and has the potential to enable the transformation from Orange to Green under certain conditions.

The core ideas behind DevOps are a different matter. They are in a way a method for an organization to pass from any developmental stage to the next, but as DevOps is being codified through specific cultural recommendations, concrete values, and actual practices and tools, the instantiation of those core ideas in form of DevOps is squarely aimed at the border between Orange and Green.

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