Selling DevOps, Part 1: Understand What You’re Selling

A successful DevOps shop works like a well-oiled machine. Everybody works together for the common good – to produce quality software. It’d be great if you could get to this state with the snap of your fingers but, obviously, it doesn’t work that way. In reality, the transition can be challenging – especially for those at the forefront who have the responsibility of selling DevOps.

DevOps works best when everyone is sold on its value. Fortunately, there’s value in DevOps for just about everyone in the IT organization. The key is to properly communicate that value – and that’s where a lot of IT professionals struggle. In his presentation The Five Love Languages of DevOps, Matt Stratton, solutions architect at Chef, offers some very relatable tips on having conversations with fellow IT pros about DevOps and its culture.

DevOps evangelization begins with a basic understanding of what it is you’re selling. DevOps can be summed up, says Matt, in the following acronym:

C – culture

A – automation

L – lean

M – measurement

S – sharing

Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements.


Culture, says Matt, “is important because it’s the people, and people are doing the work.” He goes on to say, “Behavior is what drives culture and what becomes culture.”

Therefore, to change your culture, you must change behavior. The best way to change behavior? Think incentives, Matt says. Reward the behavior you want to enforce.


“Automation is about letting robots do what robots are good at and humans do what humans are good at,” Matt says. In other words, anything that can be automated should be automated – not for the sake of reducing headcount, but for the sake of freeing up valuable resources.

“The purpose of automation is to enable already skilled people to leverage those skills appropriately and drive value to the business,” Matt says.


Lean thinking is a business methodology around how to organize activities to deliver more value. In terms of DevOps, Matt says, “lean is about looking at and eliminating waste, and how it allows the IT organization to be more experiment focused.”


Your organization’s DevOps will look different from RightBrain’s, and our DevOps looks different from Amazon’s. So, how will you know that your efforts are successful? Metrics. Establish your success criteria and start measuring at the start of your transition.


Transparency is key in DevOps, Matt says. This means no person knows all the things, and people understand why they do what they do. “Mandates aren’t dictated. “Blameless post mortem cannot take place in a culture without sharing,” he says.

Each of these elements – CALMS – can be considered a selling point or language you can use to talk about DevOps to your colleagues. In my next blog post, I’ll share Matt’s advice for determining which language you should speak at any given time.

Until then, hear it straight from Matt: