As part of our ongoing series of web seminars, CEO Jeffery Payne hosted AWS Enterprise Strategist and author Mark Schwartz on March 4, 2021, for a discussion about creating a lean, learning, and enabling bureaucracy using agile and DevOps methods.

During the conversation, they two discussed Mark’s new book, The Delicate Art of Bureaucracy, and how common agile and DevOps methods can be used to make organizations lean, enabling, and open to change. In addition, Mark answered questions from the audience on the scale of change for transformations, the importance of learning in agile and DevOps, and more.

Check out some of the highlights below, or view the entire presentation and slide deck here.

…That comment, that bureaucracy is a factory that produces compliance, that’s really another way of saying what I said at the beginning of this discussion, which is that bureaucracy can add business value…It’s a value stream essentially that adds business value…the value stream is manufacturing compliance because compliance sometimes has business value. It lets you operate your business, for example, if you’re complying with Sarbanes Oxley or something similar. So, it is a factory that produces compliance, and you can treat it like any other value stream.

…a great tactic for making the bureaucracy palatable and productive and lean is wherever you have bureaucracy, try to automate it. DevOps is a great example of how to do it. Similarly for security controls. Instead of someone at the end coming in and doing security testing and then saying well that doesn’t meet our security rules…which would be old school bureaucracy, we would have the security team write automated tests that would do security testing of the code. And do it very thoroughly.  So if the code passes those security tests, it is ready to be deployed. 

Well, the same bureaucracy is still there, the security folks…still are the people responsible, they still have the authority and they can decide whether code should be deployed or not. But they exercise that authority by providing automated tests that the code has to pass. The bureaucracy hasn’t gone away; it’s just become really efficient and lean and enabling.

…the core of being a Black Belt Bureaucrat…is to take advantage of all these opportunities to automate bureaucracy and make it thereby, lean and enabling and able to change.

What does it mean to be agile? It means that your highest value is not on sticking with a plan you made before you started. It’s changing course as you learn, based on the principle of inspecting and adapting. And so what you’re trying to do is, as you proceed on an initiative you are constantly reflecting on how you’re doing and what you’ve learned and making decisions about what you’re going to do next.

DevOps Your Bureaucracy? Make your organization lean, learning, and enabling using agile and DevOps

Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz is an Enterprise Strategist at Amazon Web Services and the author of The Art of Business Value and A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility. Before joining AWS he was the CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Service (part of the Department of Homeland Security), CIO of Intrax, and CEO of Auctiva. He has an MBA from Wharton, a BS in Computer Science from Yale, and an MA in Philosophy from Yale.

Jeffery Payne

Jeffery Payne has led Coveros since its inception in 2008. Under his guidance, the company has become a recognized market leader in secure agile software development. A popular keynote and featured speaker at technology conferences, Jeff has also testified before Congress on technology issues such as intellectual property rights and cyber-terrorism. Prior to Coveros, Jeff was co-founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Cigital, where he led the startup and growth of the company for 16 years. He is a former ACM National Lecturer and the co-founder of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the IEEE Computer Society. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Allegheny College and an M.S. in Computer Science from The College of William and Mary.

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