How to Build a Responsive and Iterative Infrastructure

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darkened data center showing server infrastructure with many led lights

If you could map your ideal personality—for yourself or your partner, you would probably know where to start, right? There are personality traits that are commonly accepted as positive—a sense of humor, kindness, confidence, maybe even timeliness or good punctuation. When you’re building a successful business, why are we not just as clear with foundational qualities? In my experience, I’ve found that establishing these key “personality” traits for your business are just as vital. We want a successful business, one with transparency and devotion to corporate social responsibility—but above all, we should prioritize agility to meet the world as it changes.

The world is full of unknowns—if we didn’t know it before the COVID-19 pandemic we certainly know it now. From changing markets to changing customer priorities, 2020 showed us that many things can change at a moment’s notice, including basic business operations. An agile mindset doesn’t mean that your company saw these changes coming or will even be ready for something similar in the future, but rather you have the tools to transform and transition to the new normal. The power lies less in the plan and more in the flexibility of its execution.

The power of agility

The agile movement was conceptualized to help small development teams work smarter and more efficiently, with an end goal of speeding up the time to market of quality software applications. Software developers were encouraged to break development into smaller chunks known as “user stories”, accelerating feedback loops to align product features with customer needs. Many businesses took notice and have worked to implement the collaboration and transparency between customer needs and innovations.

We all know that a successful business runs from the top down—which sets the impetus for a DevOps approach. In 2019, a study of business leaders found that 73 % of respondents had a DevOps initiative in their organization or were planning one in the next 12 months. Finding a balance between flexibility and time-to-market is difficult, no matter the organization, but by breaking down silos and investing in an agile framework from DevOps down, success can be found no matter the circumstance.

DevOps improves the relationship between development and operations by focusing on communication between the two business units. As a philosophy, the collaboration seeks to reduce the distance between software development and IT operations, prioritizing a culture of measurement, sharing, and automation. From culture to operational priorities, effective leadership must find effective ways to help teams maintain productivity in a complex business ecosystem

Learning how to adapt

Companies such as IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, and AT&T implemented an agile approach to improve their processes.  More than ever before, finding ways to be adaptive and responsive is key for successful infrastructure. Setting strategies and processes for future and unknown challenges is difficult, but by adhering to larger principles for making these decisions as they come, leaders can protect their business’s productivity and long-term goals. The way I help our clients reframe their infrastructure is by thinking big and starting small to deliver quickly with these three steps:

  1. Visualize. You can’t get to where you want to be if you don’t know where that is. Setting your sights on the end game allows you to visualize the priorities at hand and the goal in the future.
  2. Re-focus. Sharpen your current initiatives based on the end game you’ve visualized. Be quick to accommodate unknown new circumstances.
  3. Avoid pitfalls. Bring in experts to help you realize your vision with fewer mistakes. Don’t be afraid to fail but be equally unafraid to listen to guides along the way.

The current pace of tech innovation across industries, can change and revolutionize the playing field. The ability to adapt quicker than the competition sets a business apart. Agility should be the main focus across an organization to ensure the business thrives. When its implemented broadly and treated with system thinking in mind—acknowledging the interconnected and dynamic nature of everything, business leaders start to make micro-decisions with macro-consequences.

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