Urgency is the best path to change

Find more cute babies and nerd-talk in the Tanzu Talk playlist.

Here is the transcript:

People don’t want to change

Most people don’t want to change. And why would they? Everything they’ve done to this point has been successful. Individuals are really looking to keep what they have stable. So when you’re going in and trying to improve how you’re doing software, do digital transformation, I think it’s really important to introduce, to put it one way, a threat, maybe not only an opportunity, a way to grow and increase compensation, but something that’s attacking someone’s stability and the current position that they have.

Now you can think of this as was thought of in the nineties as introducing “urgency.” Let’s look at some types of urgency. 

New, fierce Competitors

One type of urgency that was very popular back in, I don’t know, about five years ago, where’s the threat of tech companies that were going to come in and totally steal and revolutionize the way things were done.

You saw this in banking and insurance, definitely in retail from companies like AirBnB. (I guess Airbnb is travel.) But Tesla and even Google who was coming in to try to disintermediate the insurance business some summer, long ago. 

What happened there is the companies did take this urgency and individuals did take the urgency seriously. And I think they’ve caught up with their software abilities in there. That’s a great type of urgency to introduce: an external threat a competitor. 

Old Technology

Now You also have the urgency of other factors at a technology level. Something’s about to become obsolete and therefore support costs are going to go way up. You might be losing the skills to keep mainframes up to date. You’ve got this inevitable almost end date that you’re going to encounter, that you can’t really get around. And it’s obvious what the urgency, the threat is. 

There’s also another type of technical urgency that unfortunately, most organizations don’t really encounter until it’s too late. And that’s the urgency of legacy applications that are holding you back. If you look at one survey that we do a huge amount in the higher double digits of executives said that legacy software was actively preventing them from changing. 

IRL Threats

And, of course, as we’ve seen way too much of recently, you also have total, external factors that really have nothing to do with your business, whether it’s things like COVID, weird, economic ebbs and flows, according to inflation and the cheapness of money.

… those are often things that change the needs of your business and how they have to run. That can be another type of urgency to drive people to change. 

Ensure You Always Have Urgency

Whatever type of urgency you come up with with whatever type of external threat, you really should make sure to have one, if you want everyone in your organization to change and feel that need, because otherwise, why would they change? As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And this reminds me of what a CIO once said I was listening to a talk that they were giving and they said, you always want to run in the yellow. And what they meant by that is if you’re running in the green, everything is going fine. There’s no reason to change. Things are great.

And of course you don’t want to run in the red – in crisis mode where things are out of control and you’re having to be more reactive. If you’re running in the yellow, you’re almost living by that old Intel dictum that only the paranoid survive. 

So whether or not you have an urgency that’s real or not you definitely need to come up with one, maybe even manufacturer one that allows you to run in the yellow instead of in the green and that area of complacency. 

Read More: The Business Bottleneck

If you’re in the middle of transforming how your organization works to use software as the core way it functions, you should check out the three free books I have on that topic by going to TanzuTalk.com/videos. There’s one in particular that talks a lot about this idea of urgency called The Business Bottleneck, which you can get for free along with the other two, if you go to TanzuTalk.com/videos. Good luck. 

My analysis of the State of Kubernetes 2022 survey

I like that I’ve been slotted into the “get that guy to do a write-up of a survey” position at work. It’s fun to look at these surveys, especially when I can add in things that aren’t in the published results, like multi-year data. Anyhow, here’s my write-up of our forth kubernetes survey. Things are going well for it.

I also made three little videos about this survey: one, two, and three.

Submarine meeting

Though not much of a drinker himself, Clinton expressed amusement over Yeltsin’s alcoholism and noted that Boris was always an affable drunkard. Once, while presumably wasted, Yeltsin randomly called Clinton on the telephone and proposed they meet up for a secret summit on a submarine.

— The Nineties: A Book by Chuck Klosterman

Tanzu Talk: where did the ‘dev’ in DevOps go? Was it ever there?

I theorize about what the “dev” in DevOps has come to mean 15(?) years in.

Here is the transcript:

On October 4th, we have a great DevOps conference coming up, DevOps Loop. You can go to DevOpsLoop.io to attend for free. What we’ve been focusing on when we’re putting this agenda together is discussing what DevOps is now. 

I think one of the first talks about DevOps in this area was maybe in 2008, 2006 which makes it almost 15 years old. That’s a long time for a set of methodologies to evolve. 

One of the things that I’m always curious about is where the developers are in DevOps. Recently I’ve been theorizing that actually there are no developers and DevOps. Instead what that dev means as I’ve seen people over those 15 or so years do DevOps is that operations people are becoming more and more like developers.

They’re using programmer methodologies and programmer thinking and even programmer culture to think about how they provide services or platforms to software developers in their organizations. 

Now the software developers might be able to deploy stuff on their own, or monitor and maybe even do some remediation, like rolling back, but really they’re not doing what I would think of as operations or infrastructure building. Instead by following developer principles, by developing a platform, operations people are giving developers those tools where they can deploy things to production on their own rollback problems, do some basic remediation.

And that is the element of dev that DevOps is: having operations people think about building a platform for developers and really paying attention to developers as their customers. 

This means the operations people can ensure security and compliance and really the core fundamental thing you want with a platform that it works in production. It stays up.

I’m not sure if that’s actually what DevOps has become, but I’ll be interested to see what people at DevOps Loop have to say about it. And maybe afterwards come up with a new theory of what DevOps is. If you’re interested in exploring that and a great lineup of seek ups, you can go to DevOpsLoop.io and register for free, you can attend for free. And then afterwards, as I’m hoping to do myself, you might have a good idea of what DevOps is 15 years later and how we can start applying it in large organizations.

Reluctance to change – Notebook

I’ve proposed an open spaces for DevOpsDays Amsterdam, 2021. The idea is:

The DevOps community pushes for people to change how they think and operate. When it comes to working better, we have proven tools, techniques, and even big picture ways of thinking like CALMS. You’re more than likely eager to try these new things, get better, change. However, many more people seem less than eager to change – your co-workers, managers, and the countless “others” in your organization. In the discussions I have with change agents and executives in large organizations, this reluctance to change is one of the top three concerning topics. I invite you to this discussion to talk about why people are reluctant to change, how you’ve worked helped people change, or, perhaps given up, and, hopefully, to share stories about your own experience overcoming reluctance. Our goal will be to move beyond being frustrated with “frozen” minds and middles, and get a sense for what to do about it…if anything. To start the discussion, I’ll start with a few stories and methods for getting people to change that I’ve encountered in the past few years.


In preparing for it, I typed in these notes:

Reluctance to change is one of the top concerns with executives and managers I talk with.

  • Frozen middle, frozen minds – often means “I don’t like what they’re (not) doing” – is that kind?
  • I want to talk about why people are reluctant to change; why you are; stories of success and failure in changing people’s minds, desires, and behavior/action.
  • Examples to start with:
    • Constant Planning, or, Analysis paralysis – they want to change, but think too much and don’t act. Fix: external problem/urgency, like (sadly) COVID, competition, dying/plateaued cash cow (not a very good motivator).
    • Fear of change – demonstrate that it works.
    • Seems like more work, or, won’t make their lives better, so why change? Show them that it make their lives better – automating things frees you up from tedium; automating for auditors saves them over-time; the new way can be more secure.
    • Changing job/responsibilities/identity. The DBA likes being the DBA, the network admin likes that – prove to them that it’s better.
    • Fear that they can’t change/learn the new thing – Coté doesn’t get around to learning Dutch, same fear. Related: embarrassment, e.g., Coté doesn’t buy from the butcher down the street cause he don’t speak Dutch (but, butcher doesn’t care – OF COURSE!) Fix: hard one, show success from peers.
  • Fixes:
    • General fix for all of this: build up success stories of their peers doing it.
    • Change motivations:
      • like money;
      • flow – removing friction (better quality of life and work-life);
      • raising individual profile with OSS work/fame;
      • autonomy;
      • closer to end-user to see value they provide.
    • Change structure. “Culture follows structure” – Larman’s Law – points out a common pattern/behavior. Once you know the behavior, you can start thinking about how to change/improve it.
      • “the organizational system (groups, teams, roles and responsibilities, hierarchies, career paths, policies, measurement and reward mechanisms, etc)”

You can also see me discuss these in one of my Tanzu Talk streams.

#log 2021-05-14

Since last time.

From Napoleon to Nutella: The Birth of the Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

But, of course, a story that credits an invading force for a chocolate-confection-turned-regional-gem is not nearly as stirring as one that frames the chocolatiers as ingenious victors, who persevered in their trade in spite of the odds against them. And the motivation to reshape gianduia’s narrative only grew with time.

Two articles of mine published: one on modernization and tech debt for Tech Radar Pro UK and another for AG Connect Netherlands on how managers can help transform their organization (translated to Dutch).

The plunge of Grafton Street gushed with a growling steel and rubber torrent, vehicle flow swollen by a rain of lunchtime drinkers, weekend shopping trips and booming penis publicizers, threatening to overspill its banks. An anaconda laminate of molten tyre that snaked across the pavement just ahead of Mick bore testament that such a breach had happened only recently, most probably during the Friday night just gone. White-water driving by some Netto Fabulous crash-dummy who bled Burberry, shooting the traffic island rapids in his hotwired kayak, home to Jimmy’s End across the river in the west, head full of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and horse tranquilliser, pinprick pupils, squinting in the spindrift of oncoming headlights.

From JERUSALEM: 2018 Edition by Alan Moore – big book, hard to read casually.

Lee Atwater’s unfinished memoir – kind of a monster.

“Throw in the sponge”

#log 2021-05-02

How to Get Started with—Real—Travel Photography

Photographing the butcher on the corner of the street instead of someone dressed in traditional clothes solely for the purpose of pleasing tourists. Looking for real people and daily life instead of famous landmarks. That’s what going to make your photography interesting and stand out from the crowds.

More than a quarter of all Starbucks orders in the U.S. are now paid for with a smartphone – here in Europe, I pay almost all the time with my phone. It’s fantastic.

MonitorControl – in MacOS, an app that allows you to modify the brightness, contrast, and volume for external monitors. Simple and effective.

Brown cafés in the Netherlands: all you need to know

Savvy shoppers: long lines at IKEA and Primark upon re-opening in the Netherlands

If anyone still thought that our consumption behaviour would change permanently in the post-corona era, here’s a sneak peek. Soon again people will be going to Bali and New York three times a year, looking forward to it.

Office default Calibri will join Clippy, Internet Explorer in Windows retirement

“Calibri has been the default font for all things Microsoft since 2007, when it stepped in to replace Times New Roman across Microsoft Office,” the Microsoft Design Team opined in Calibri’s de facto obit. “It has served us all well, but we believe it’s time to evolve.”

OKRs and developer backlogs

“It usually seems to me that the reason it works out this way is because teams generally have large backlogs of things they’ve decided they’d like to do. Most of the stuff in that backlog was written down long before the current OKRs where specified…. So it makes sense that when the OKRs come out for the quarter, we just take what we already have and figure out how to fit it into the OKRs.”

Ignoring the Rules Sometimes Works for Elon Musk

‘When asked to comment on the specifics of this article, Mr. Musk replied with a “poop” emoji.’

Software Defined Talk Episode 296: Fungated into my mind

_Working Backwards_, recent book on how Amazon runs.


  • central is thinking about product features, not business. The business funds the product, the customer value – it’s the McGuffin that you careful guide to being cash flow. The question here is to find other org.s that have adopted abs adapted the practices successfully, or not.
  • the advice at the end is pretty straightforward – the practices are kind of simple, so applying them just means deciding to do them – just like deciding to diet and exercise. It’s the deciding and sticking to it that’s hard.
  • an analysis of this book requires an approach: don’t halo effect/shoot down the book and triumphs, focus on describing why others find it hard to act this way. This book isn’t wrong in it’s own story: the challenge is “scaling” the lessons learned to other orgs.
  • They Still do intense annual planning, do they just do it “better”?
  • Comp of max 160 and lots of equity is good? Probably.
  • “wasted time” a common phrase, in interview chapter.
  • people interested in high performance, not quality of life…?
  • dependencies – something you need but can’t control/build/etc.
  • we spent too much time coordinating and not enough building.
  • dependency discussion (when they had a monolith) is a good business view in this tech stuff – do most LoB execs (outside Amazon) have this much IT knowledge?’
  • Two pizza teams changes to single threaded leader – lots it emphasis on one person owning one thing, all parts of that thing. End-to-end.
  • not a what decision, a who and how – figuring out how to respond to iTunes on Windows.
  • Needs a long term focus.
  • there isn’t talk of the “boring” retail business – warehouses/logistics, purchasing from suppliers, etc. how is that all run?

#log 2021-04-28


“76% of employees employed by high-growth firms agree that their job requires them to be creative,” from “Creativity Catalyzes A Growth Mindset,” Forrester, April 2021.

New talk on metrics

I’m giving a new talk for the first time on May 10th, “Beyond DevOps metrics – technical, business, and culture metrics for the software defined business.” I’ll pull a lot from my upcoming Mindset book, and these Tanzu Talk videos.

One of the better, odder pieces of PowerPoint clipart I’ve seen today

Mindset book

My new booklet is almost done getting all put together. You can still see a draft of it, or wait until next month when it officially comes out.

Modernizing apps, etc.

Modernization white paper: “Tackle Application Modernization in Days and Weeks, Not Months and Years.” It’s a good overview of the disciplined process VMware Tanzu customers go through to modernize their portfolio. It takes years, lots of planning. What I like is that it has a generic, quick process for doing analysis (over and over as you finish each, say, quarter) and focuses a lot of process, not just technology/replatforming. As ever with us, getting CI/CD (“path to production”) a quick and automated as possible is the first, kind of most important step.

No commitment thinking

From “On Bullshit”:

The characteristic topics of a bull session have to do with very personal and emotion-laden aspects of life — for instance, religion, politics, or sex. People are generally reluctant to speak altogether openly about these topics if they expect that they might be taken too seriously. What tends to go on in a bull session is that the participants try out various thoughts and attitudes in order to see how it feels to hear themselves saying such things and in order to discover how others respond, without it being assumed that they are committed to what they say: It is understood by everyone in a bull session that the statements people make do not necessarily reveal what they really believe or how they really feel.


The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor co conceal it…. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.

healthcare tech reports notes

Some reading I did for getting up to speed on healthcare tech.

“Claims 2030: A talent strategy for the future of insurance claims”

Claims 2030: A talent strategy for the future of insurance claims

  • Using the old AI agent sidekick idea to take care of decision making. You still have a human face to walk you through stuff. Other roles are a person to sort out more complex things that a computer can’t do and the data scientists who monitor decision making and do new ML-stuff training.

“The productivity imperative for US life and annuities carriers,” McKinsey March, 2021

Productivity is imperative for US life and annuities carriers | McKinsey

  • Life insurance companies have been looking for growth for a long time.
  • Cost cutting is a big priority: “In a proprietary McKinsey survey conducted before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, senior life-insurance executives estimated the industry needed to reduce its costs by 35 percent in the medium term, far higher than the typical 10 to 15 percent reductions realized in most cost-cutting programs.”

“How insurers can act on the opportunity of digital ecosystems,” interview with Markus Warg, McKinsey

The opportunity of digital ecosystems for insurance | McKinsey

  • Insurance providers looking for new revenue streams, also new ways to optimize/save money, inc. lesser payouts.
  • This guy is all about engaging with the “ecosystem” or partners and other people to layer on new features to health insurance. HealthKit on the Apple Watch is an interesting aspect. Why don’t more insurers do that?
  • Offering new features to improve the business: “Take, for instance, health insurance. Health insurance’s value is in covering financial risks. However, this product can be enhanced substantially through further services related to telemedicine or health management—resulting in better prevention and reduced costs through more appropriate care settings. This benefits both the customer and the insurer. Similarly, innovations such as digital care assistants prove that traditionally lengthy processes can be completed via an app in just a few minutes. At the same time, such services help to create touchpoints with caregivers along the way.”
  • Some pushing to getting faster develop lifecycles.

“The Time For Strategic EHR Workflow Is Now,” Forrester, July 2019

  • Electronic Health Records (EHR) are not delivering on the promise of optimizing. Doctors don’t like them, they spend too much time in them. The UIs haven’t improved that much: ‘Providers now spend approximately 2 hours in
    the eHr for every hour spent engaged in patient-facing activities.4 in addition, providers report spending an added 1 to 2 hours of “pajama time” catching up on work each night after hours.’

2019 priorities: