DevOps Institute

[EP75] DevOps for Humans with Jayne Groll


On this episode of the Humans of DevOps, Jason Baum is joined by DevOps Institute CEO and original podcast host Jayne Groll! đź—Ł They discuss the state of human transformation, DevOps for humans, work culture and much more.

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Please find a lightly edited transcript below

Jason Baum 00:09
Hey, everyone, it’s Jason Baum Director of Member experience at DevOps Institute and this is the Humans of DevOps podcast. Welcome back. Hope you had a great week. I had a great one. And today I am looking forward to the greatness continuing, because I am in the presence of greatness. And I cannot say enough about the person who is the guest today. Last week, you were lucky enough? Yes, you are a listener, we’re lucky enough. We’re always lucky to have you. But you were lucky to be able to hear the first-ever humans of DevOps podcast hosted by Jayne Groll the founder and co-founder and CEO of DevOps Institute. And so we were kind of playing our best-ofs. And this week, we’re gonna play our current hit. So with me today on the podcast is co-founder and CEO of DevOps Institute, Jayne Groll.

Jayne Groll 01:41
Hey, Jason, Hey, everyone, how are you? I know, it’s like, you know, before, during and after, right? So I’m really excited with everything you’ve done with this podcast, Jason. I mean, we started it as an idea. And then you’ve just taken it forward. And I think our audience, so appreciate the diversity and the range of guests that you’ve had really serving, you know, DevOps Institute’s mission, which is we serve the humans of DevOps.

Jason Baum 02:09
I actually think we’re coming up on, I’m going to have to fact-check it. Or someone else can fact-check it. But I think we’re coming up on one year that I’ve actually been hosting. I know I came on starting in March, you had me as a guest, and I think I just loved it so much that I was like, I want to stay. And it’s just been nonstop since and I think we’ve recorded oh my gosh, I think something like 40 some odd episodes since which is absolutely bonkers. I don’t know how that’s happened. But here we are today. And yes, kind of come full circle. So welcome back to the humans of DevOps. And so the question we always ask is, are you ready to get human?

Jayne Groll 02:53
I am so ready to get human, particularly in such a technical landscape, right. So let’s be human.

Jason Baum 03:02
I have learned so much from you. In such a short period of time, I’ve been very lucky in the course of my professional life to have known quite a bit of just really smart, influential people. And I have to say, in the short period of time that I have known Jane Grohl, I have learned so much. And it has just been the fact that we actually never met in person, by the way, until February of 2022 is also just absolutely insane to me because I feel like I’ve known you my whole life in some respects. And I’ve learned so much from you.

Jayne Groll 03:42
Well, we, you know, you and I joke that we share a brain right, so, so yeah, it was really great pleasure to meet you. Again, I think that our paths were meant to cross and, and even just looking at this podcast, I mean, it kind of, again, the range of people that you’ve been able to bring on the conversations, the passion that you feel for DevOps Institute and for our members is, is just fantastic. And again, I appreciate everything you’re saying to me, but, you know, this has been a labor of love for me over the last seven years, being able to see kind of DevOps in its early days, and then being able to co-found DevOps Institute with my partners, and then just watching the world. You know, I get to be the greatest observer of the humans of technology around the world. And, and it’s a real privilege. I mean, it really is a privilege to be able to do this.

Jason Baum 04:41
Well, you know, I think you’ll probably remember the conversation but when I started, and then especially when I started, like getting into the podcast. I was. I was a little what’s the right word? I never afraid to have a conversation. But I was intimidated. That’s The right word intimidated by this space because DevOps and you hear about it, I had never heard about it before coming on, we had some really great conversations that led to my process of coming to DevOps Institute, but you’re really the one who kind of put it best and make me feel better about it. And, and the core and the thing to remember is, it’s all about people. And, and humans, we call them, you know, humans. And it’s so funny because as I’ve been here, I’ve seen the cultural, the cultural shift that’s going on and that everybody is talking about today. Yeah, here, we’re talking about that. This, this was, this is like old news. I feel like to this industry, and to you, in particular, when you were telling me about it, you know, a year and a half, almost, you know, oh, geez, almost, yeah, over a year and a half ago. And so I want to talk about DevOps, and I want to talk about just the digital transformation and the cultural transformation that goes on. But isn’t so funny how I feel like the world is starting to catch up? Do you feel that way?

Jayne Groll 06:12
Actually, I think the world is always one step ahead of us. And it’s really interesting because I think, you know, as horrible as this pandemic has been, and you know, on the human toll, and on the social toll, it’s just been horrific. It pushed us further into the future. As far as technology goes, as far as social interactions go, it’s really kind of reshaped, what would have probably happened anyhow, in terms of, you know, remote work from home and for in terms of technological advances, remote meetings, remote events, it probably would have happened anyhow. But we got we got pushed involuntarily into the future. And now we can’t go backward right now, we can’t, you know, we can’t go backward. And, you know, to your point about humans, we use the term humans, because regardless of anything else, male, female gender identity, where you’re located regionally, at least today, we’re all human. And so it’s a common characteristic among all of us, that that we share, most of us wake up in the morning and just want to do right by our job, our family, our lifestyles. And that’s a very, very human right characteristic. So in a very technical landscape, it’s so easy to forget about humans. And from the early days, our mission at DevOps Institute has always been to advance, right, to advocate to represent the human elements of a very, very technical society. So yeah, we’re catching up. But I still think it’s like the carrot in front of us, right, just about the point where, you know, if you’re a 200-year-old enterprise, and you’re trying to figure out how to stay competitive, or you’re a human that’s, you know, been growing your career. It’s a carrot that’s always just, you know, a quarter-inch away from you, and you’re afraid you’re just never going to catch it. And the truth is, you probably never will.

Jason Baum 08:10
There’s a phrase that people come on. A few people have used this. And, and I know there’s a book, but computers are easy, the people that people are hard. And isn’t it true? But at the end of the day, we all just want to be treated like people, you know, like humans, I this quote, and I don’t know why, but it has been really just sticking in my mind when I think about treating others, like humans treating each other like humans and how, in in the workplace. This seems to be. Unfortunately, it was not the rule. Right. It was always kind of the exception, and now it’s becoming. That’s not the rule yet. But I think there’s a big shift for it happening. But there’s the quote, from The Merchant of Venice, that I just love this quote, and, and the character obviously, there’s all Oh, we don’t have to get into the Merchant of Venice, but that Shylock, quote, you know, of, you know, if you prick us, do we not bleed if you tickle us? Do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? It’s like, what says it better than that? It just says that all.

Jayne Groll 09:29
Yeah, absolutely. And again, you know, in the early days of technology, I mean, people forget, we’re really a young industry. So we’re almost just teenagers right now, and maybe even a little belligerent. We can talk about the great resignation and the fact that, you know, these generations that are younger than I am, are really taking hold. You know, they’re emboldened by, by then, you know, the worst conditions of the pandemic and they don’t want to go backwards. Right. But as humans, you know, the Only days, we had social interactions with each other, you know, we were 25 people on the same floor in the same building, I worked in lower Manhattan, right, that’s how I started my Accidental Technology career. And then, you know, as it grew, and companies grew, and they globalized and, and all of that, that, you know, the ability to know each other, their families go have a beer together a cup of coffee, or have lunch together, that changed, right, it changed. And then as the different specialties within it happened, we grew further and further and further apart, so that we didn’t know each other anymore. And the social side of it really disappeared. And the one thing that we know about people, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you need to know that, that your organization, your managers, your colleagues care about you write it, you know, we’re talking quotes, one of my favorite quotes is from Zig Ziglar, who was just if you’ve never, you know, listened to Zig Ziglar, that great Mississippi accent, he was a sales, a sales mentor, but he said nobody will care how much you know, unless they know that you care about them. And, and I think that you know, for a long time enterprises, I don’t think maliciously, but we were a commodity, right, we, you know, they’re the humans are a commodity. And in technology, we’ve never been a commodity, but we look at the technology first and the human after, right. And so, you know, you mentioned digital transformation, digital transformation is not going to happen without human transformation. It’s just, it can’t humans still have to author they still have to administer these, you know, they still have to select different technology. So, you know, we can talk all we want about digital transformation, and it’s a nice hype term, but it’s going to be humans that power that. And, and humans, again, are going to need to collaborate, they’re going to need to be good systems thinker, they need to be diverse, they need to have good empathy. You know, these are all I mean, our upskilling report era for years shows that your human skills are as important as your technical skills. So again, and we get a front-row seat to that, right, because luckily, you and I and the rest of our team, you know, we interact with so many different regions of the world. So many different people have different backgrounds, different experiences, different cultures, that we see this is just a common need. Right? We need to be respectful.

Jason Baum 12:37
Yeah. Gotham palapa has the book leading with empathy. I mean, I love that is there anything better than that? I mean, it’s so true. When you’re, when you can lead with empathy. It just makes it you’re all going the same direction, when you can understand what the other person is going through what they can understand what you’re going through, you can see Siva, through the world do this not the same lens, because we’re all gonna have different lenses, but understanding that those lenses are different, and that’s okay. And we can all get through it together, we’re going along the same direction rather than working against each other. So, I guess I would, I’m just curious, what is it about DevOps for you? Why did you Why is this the particular direction for your career? Why, why did you choose DevOps?

Jayne Groll 13:31
I don’t know that I chose it or it chose me so there’s that but that’s been kind of the pattern share

Jason Baum 13:36
the brain, I knew that was gonna be yours. I

Jayne Groll 13:40
told you, I’m an accidental technologist, I, you know, I have a degree in music, I got out of college, there were just no jobs under AM. And my mother taught me to type. So I was a paralegal legal secretary for the first part of my career until I bumped into an organization that was pretty progressive in technology. But you know, to answer your question about DevOps, so I come from the ITIL space, right, so after I was a director of it for a long time, and manage large IT organizations kind of fell into ITIL, which was you know more about how to run it more like a business and had a very, very good career in that, and then literally just bumped into DevOps, like we got invited to a DevOps Days in 2012. by Jean Kim, many of you know him as the author of the Phoenix Project, who was a friend from the ITIL space. And we saw Spark, like there were 300 people in this old dusty warehouse. I’ve told this story a bunch of times, they were like 300 people, five of which were women. The evening music was bring your own instrument and we’ll just jam and it was very organic. And there was a lot of discussion about culture. Right and it was a wake-up call that in it while we were progressing. Technically, we were losing our sense To our cultural aspects, I like the word culture, but I also hate the word culture because it sounds so surgical, right? Like, oh, let’s take out the old culture and put it in a new culture. But there was something there. That was very exciting. And this is in the very early days when the Wall Street Journal was writing articles about whether DevOps could cross the chasm into the enterprise. So I mean, that question has been asked and answered, but the point is, there was something there was a spark there that you could see that, you know, I mean, think about what DevOps means developers and operations, okay, security, you know, felt a little left out. But it meant that these teams had to work better together. That’s the heartbeat. It wasn’t about continuous integration or continuous delivery. It was, how do we create an environment where there’s more collaboration, there’s more cooperation, there’s shared tools, accountabilities, things like that. So from the very early days, it was meant to be a human movement. Right. And of course, you know, the other part of it is let’s embrace automation so that it’ll do all the boring, redundant work. But it was never meant to be specifically a technical, you know, framework or anything like that. It was all about how do we work together better? How do we increase flow by doing that, and that, to me, was very, very exciting. And I thought that enterprises might embrace it. But it took a couple of years before we even founded DevOps Institute. So that was 2012, we founded DevOps Institute in late 2014. So we kind of watched, you know, what was happening at Netflix and Google and, you know, all these companies that were kind of excited about it.

Jason Baum 16:46
So with the transformation, whether it be digital, cultural, what have you. It takes a certain skill, right, takes certain skills to be able to do these things, and are relatively new, or newer. Field, really? Where do these skills come from? And where did the talent, where’s that talent come from? What are the skills that make the talent for it?

Jayne Groll 17:17
Well, that’s interesting, because part of it is individual and part of it is corporate, right? I can’t force you to learn something, right? I could give you every resource, every opportunity. But even though we joke that we share a brain, your brain has to be the one willing and excited and taking the time and effort and having the accessibility to be able to learn but you have to want to learn, right, and it’s difficult. I mean, my generation, you know, that’s the way we’ve always done it, that’s the way we should do it. And today, it’s happening so quickly, there is a huge skills gap today, between the organizations that want to move forward, and the available skills, and individuals, some people call them talent. Again, it’s another one of those surgical terms, but the talent that’s available, you know, we do our annual upskilling report, the next one is going to release on May 12. And we see a couple of interesting things in terms of skills. There’s certain technical or functional skills that everybody I don’t care what your role is, should be exploring getting education on again, we have 11 certifications, really being able to take training or to to self teach, and that security cloud operations, right, all of that is essential to today’s IT professionals and there’s access to that type of resource, whether it’s through us or whether it’s self learn peer to peer, those skills are the skills of the future, the tangible, functional technical skills. But for four years in a row, it’s the human skills. You know, you just mentioned like, you know, Gotham’s leading with empathy. Yes, I don’t think there’s anybody that will say I don’t think I need empathy. Right? Or I don’t think that I should be a better collaborator. No, no, no. The problem is, there isn’t a lot of of, I don’t know, if you want to call it skilling on how, you know, there’s kind of an assumption that either you’re good at it or you’re not, or you know, you’re a good communicator or you’re not or you’re an extrovert or an introvert and therefore, you’re assigned certain characteristics, when there are tangible, right, there are tangible ways to intentionally try and the word try is so important in terms of human skills to try to improve your empathy or to try to be a better communicator. There are techniques that are out there that are, you know, that are known and proven and are not necessarily surgical. They’re very human.

Jason Baum 20:00
I couldn’t agree with that more, I like smile as you’re talking because it’s like, so I just, we don’t emphasize it enough. In the collective we like culturally, there’s that word. The, what we’re called soft skills we call human skills are like, yeah, they’re important. And then no one pays attention to them until it’s too late. Or we don’t put our mouth where our money where our mouth is.

Jayne Groll 20:32
Because there’s an assumption that you’re going to either do that on your own or that it’s very Fluffy, fluffy, right. That’s the problem. And yeah, and I mean, when you look at training, budgets, right training budgets on, you know, how to be a, you know, how to look at diversity and inclusion, some of that training is happening now. Same thing with, you know, sexual harassment training or, you know, unconscious bias training. I mean, companies are investing in that. But I can tell you, you know, Jason, I really think that you should improve your collaboration skills. And you’ll say, oh, Jane, thank you for that feedback. And then you walk away, go, Okay, I don’t know how to do that. Right. What should I do? Where do I start? Right. And so it’s, it’s hard, right? Soft skills are hard.

Jason Baum 21:24
Think about diversity inclusion for a second. Obviously, that’s not well, diversity and inclusion as a pillar as like something that now we have diversity inclusion officers, there is a, there is an actual emphasis being placed on it. And it is a mission now, right? For many that we are, we are diverse and inclusive, and it’s something that now appears on every job posting in it, there is an emphasis, but what happened to get to that point? I mean, think about how many years we had to go before diversity and inclusion was made a priority. So now you say like, yeah, that, that it’s that is Fufu, or fluffy or whatever, that some of these other aspects, human aspects are incredibly important, by the way, and no, no one is more important. Well, being diverse, being diverse and inclusive is pretty important, but sort of these others, and, I mean, there, it literally takes people got it, getting into the streets, and, and marching and protesting and, you know, getting in people’s faces, to get one of these things checked off as a mission. What do we have to do for the others?

Jayne Groll 22:46
Well, and that’s a challenge, because I also wonder whether, because we remember I can give you all the access in the world, I can create a diverse team where we have women, people of color, we have diversity, right? We require inclusiveness, but unless you, Jason, right, have now opened your mind, right to be able to change some of your thought patterns, some of your behaviors, whatever, then it’s not going to get us where we need to be. And there’s training and techniques to do that. I’ll give you an example. Conflict Management, right? So people deal with conflict they have a go-to. And I’m so sorry because I know that you’ve been struggling with a cold this week.

Jason Baum 23:31
Yeah, I have bronchitis for everyone listening. So that’s why I’m, if you’re listening, hopefully you can’t tell, I’m muting myself.

Jayne Groll 23:40
If you’re not contagious, not contagious.

Jason Baum 23:43
not contagious. Just

Jayne Groll 23:47
know, but But you know, look at conflict management. So we all have a go-to on conflict management, right? You may be an avoider, you may be a win-win, you always have to win on these kinds of things. Or you may be a lose, lose, right? Or you may be passive-aggressive. But there are techniques, there’s something called the Thomas Killman inventory that will assess what your conflict management style is. But it will also tell you when to use the other styles, how to learn to be able to know when to compromise, how to know how to work with somebody else whose style may be different than yours. I know you’ve done disc and Myers Briggs with your team and with others, it helps you to understand not only you but it helps you understand your teammates so that you know some people like that, hey, how’s the family how whatever, and some people just want to get right to it. And how do you know the difference in who you’re communicating with? So, you know, it is a little bit of a personal journey. It requires openness and it also requires corporate support. To be I’ve worked for organizations where you know, we did do Myers Briggs on everybody. And that’s not the perfect solution. All right, sometimes it’s having a brown bag lunch and getting to know people, right? I mean, sometimes it’s as simple as, as, again, do a zoom brown bag lunch, and don’t talk about work. Just talk about yourselves, what books are you reading? What music do you like, you know, create that relation humans are relationship people

Jason Baum 25:21
comes back to empathy. I think that’s I mean, for myself for my team, why we did it? Why I had everybody do it was, I want to learn about everybody, I want to know you, I want to know, you know, if you don’t want to small talk, let me know, like, I want to know that I want to know, that means we’re going straight to the Congress. And I want you to know what it is for me to. So that you know how I want to have a conversation. And then we have I’m going to, they don’t, they don’t know it yet. But there, we’ve sort of filled this out. We’re just starting it. But there’s a handbook that we’re going to have for working together for the team. And it’s got some of those things like you just mentioned our Myers Briggs Personality in it. It’s got our work anniversary, Scott, what pronouns do we want to use? The areas of focus that we love, things that fit in? How do different things that we do fit into our life outside of work? You know, what music to, like, just all the so aspects of professional life, and personal because it is all all in one. Have you seen the show, there’s this show, I believe it’s on Apple. And it’s called oh my gosh, I can’t remember the name of it. But anyway, it’s a, it’s gonna come to me because it’s it’s part of the process, but they literally separate the part of your mind that your work, memories stay at work, and your home memories stay at home, and they never meet. And so there’s a work you that exists, and is just always at work, and has nothing else outside of work. And then there’s the homie. And it’s, it’s really fascinating. Because my gosh, that doesn’t exist. We are all in one person.

Jayne Groll 27:22
Yeah, but you know what? This is a great example. So you took the initiative as a leader to do this with your team. It isn’t a company-wide initiative. Right? You did this on your own? But that’s But Well, not yet. Right. But this is a message to our audience that I think that’s really, really significant. A leader that’s inspired to want to improve the work environment, that one do, you spend more time at work than you spend in any other part of your life, but a leader that’s inspired to want to improve the work environment to improve the relationship between teammates to get to know each other? Right? Jason, you’re doing that. And again, you didn’t come to me for funding, you didn’t come and say, oh, I need you know, whatever, whatever, you just did it, right? You just did it. So if you’re listening, you know, the old Nike just do it, there are so many resources, to be able to, whether you’re the official leader of your team, or you’re a member of your team, there’s so many resources that are available that you could just do to be a but you have to want it right you have to want to create an environment or be that evangelist or that change agent, whatever term you want to use. Because again, you can just do it right, and your teammates, you know, once somebody takes the lead, whether it’s the official leader or not, once somebody takes the lead and the ball gets rolling, most people like that, I mean, you’re not going to cross the line into, you know, too personal and people will let you know that. But on the other hand, were relationships and your work relationship is almost as important not quite as your home relationship. Right. And so, you know, people make friends at work. Well, I have friends around the world that I have never met in person. Right? Lots of them. But again, you know, we kind of, we kind of go through this thing. So again, if you’re listening and hear what Jason’s telling you, you can just do it right? You can build your own team handbook and maybe another peer leader, what decides they want to do that too. And then it becomes viral and it doesn’t require some type of Act, right? Some type of mandate from upper management to be able to make that happen, because by the way, in culture, upper management mandates almost never work. They never work, right? Because you can’t force it. It has to be from within.

Jason Baum 29:48
It’s got to be organic. Yeah, it does. And real authentic people can see right through it, right.

Jayne Groll 29:53
Yeah, I mean, you know, organic. I love that word too, right. Think about the term organic right? I mean, you know, it has to be, it has to be a combination. And if you’re sitting there waiting for your upper management to, you know, deem something to happen, that’s not the right approach, right? It’s not a right approach. Talk to one of your peers, talk to one of your colleagues. Have a cup of coffee, even if it’s on Zoom.

Jason Baum 30:22
Love it. Love it. We could talk forever, Jane.

Jayne Groll 30:25
I know. I know. It’s,

Jason Baum 30:27
it’s a, it’s so nice to just be able to talk to you like this. And we talk all the time. But I love the coffee. I like when we get into it like this. This is This is wonderful. I feel like we could do a whole other podcast. So so the thing that we like to do at the end of the show, is ask one somewhat personal question, because it’s human, right? The humans of DevOps. So I’m going to ask you this one, because I’m just curious. So if you could, if you could be remembered for one thing, what would that be?

Jayne Groll 31:02
Oh, that’s a really hard question. I mean, I’ve been so blessed. In my life, I’ve had a really great career. I’ve met some amazing people. But I’d like to think that I’ve been human, all the way through that, that I’m true to true to my values again, you know, nobody’s perfect, right? I’m a little bit of the crazy cat lady. So you probably saw some of my cats walking by in the background. But if I could be remembered for anything, I’d like to be remembered for the fact that I kept humanity right at the forefront of, of whether it’s my family, whether it’s my work environment that I stayed human.

Jason Baum 31:44
I love it. Love it. And thank you so much for sorry. I really appreciate your coming back on the show. And letting us play last week’s episode, the first-ever episode. So if you didn’t get a chance to listen to that, go back and have a chance to listen to it now. And then coming back on and coming full circle. This has been absolutely a pleasure.

Jayne Groll 32:15
And I’m so proud of what you’ve done with this podcast and with our member experience. Jason, I mean that for my art. I’m so glad that you agreed to takeover as, as host. And for those of you listening, you know, this Humans of DevOps podcast is really under, under Jason’s really tutelage of sorts. I’m, I’m very proud of what you’ve been able to accomplish.

Jason Baum 32:41
Thank you. Thank you. It means a lot. And, and I have to say, the credit really goes to Jaida, who is our producer, and I’m going to call her out and give her some credit. She likes to stay behind. Behind the mic, I guess. Behind the camera. And yeah, we’ve we can’t do it without you, Jayne. So thank you.

Jayne Groll 33:06
Yeah, The HOD pod squad? Isn’t that what we call it?

Jason Baum 33:09
That’s what we call it internally. Yeah, that’s our internal. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the humans of DevOps podcast. We had fun. Hope you did, too. I’m going to end this episode. Oh, before we go, though, I’m so excited because I’m going on vacation. So I’m saying this, I’m going on vacation. I’m off to, I’m gonna say where I’m going to St. Lucia. And so I will be back. You know, at some point, maybe we’ll say no, yeah, I’ll definitely be back in a week. But so next week is going to be a rerun, and then I’ll be back in the microphone on the mic. I don’t know how this works. I’ll be back in a week. So I’m going to end this episode the same way I always do encourage you to become a member of DevOps Institute Institute to get access to even more great resources just like this one. I made it I made it and I didn’t lose my voice. I’m so proud of myself for that. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and most of all, stay human. Live long and prosper.

Jayne Groll 34:16
Bye, everyone.

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