Teaching the DevOps soft skills

Cecilia Rehn, Editor of TEST Magazine and DevOpsOnline spoke to Jan Schilt, Owner & Founder, GamingWorks BV, about the importance of developing soft skills in teams in order to successfully implement DevOps.

Business simulations to aid IT training

GamingWorks designs, develops and deploys professional business simulations or serious games aimed at solving the issues describes above and supporting organisational learning and development. The ‘learning-by-doing’ solutions are used by a worldwide network of professional partners.

“The firm launched 15 years ago, with its business simulation for Apollo 13, allowing companies to get the most out of ITSM/ITIL training,” Schilt says. “We’ve grown, expanded globally and now offer 6 different scenarios from process management to cyber security, ITIL, and most recently DevOps.”

Business simulations are often customised to firms, to meet their learning objectives. Then, typically, 10-12 people join for a full day’s collaborative learning in a workshop, Schilt explains. The tasks start easy and get harder as the day goes on; ensuring team members challenge each other and themselves throughout the day.

Soft skills needed for DevOps professionals

There is a demand and necessity for soft skills amongst firms taking on a DevOps transformation.

“When you look at DevOps and its success/fail factors, it always comes back to people,” Schilt says. “It’s about communication, interaction, and continuous learning.”

These are skills, Schilt argues, that you cannot pick up in foundation classes where 20+ students passively sit and listen and come out with a diploma.

“All the success factors, communication and continuous learning etc. can only be learned through practice,” Schilt says. “Which is why it’s so great to get people together in a room, let them experience DevOps in practice – use communication skills, use Kanban, develop flow, actually do continuous learning. It makes a massive difference.”

Learning from past mistakes

There is a growing interest in simulation-based learning. Schilt believes it to be as a result of learning from past mistakes.

“I think the industry is learning from the days of ITIL implementation. It was a big drama for many organisations, where despite money being invested in traditional training and courses, it was hard to transfer knowledge into day-to-day work,” he says. “Now there’s an increased understanding of the importance of soft skills, and the different ways to develop these skills amongst team members.”

The Phoenix Project

GamingWorks’ DevOps simulation draws upon expertise from a familiar DevOps thought leader.

“Our simulation is based on Gene Kim’s The Phoenix Project, and we put people in the context of the book for a day,” Schilt says. “They get to live the project from start to beginning, and experience first hand the positives that DevOps can bring to a team project.”

Jan will be speaking on The Phoenix Simulation at the DevOps Enterprise Summit.

Written by Cecilia Rehn