More about Goats and Silos

Owens Valley Silo Stairs B&WThe morning after my talk on Goats and Silos at the Cloudstack Collaboration Conference I was sitting at a table with Mark Burgess and John Willis. I was busy working through my email, so I only half heard their conversation, but one thing Mark said really stuck with me. Basically Mark pointed out the importance of “breaking down the silos in our mind.”

This of course stuck out to me, and as I began to think about it, that is exactly what this whole idea of Goats and Silos is about. Much of the talk in DevOps is about breaking down organizational silos, which is hard to impossible for us at the individual contributor level. But there is nothing stopping us from breaking down our preconceived notions and biases. within our minds. Go out and explore across the organizational silos in order to break down your own silos. And if you are a manager, give your goats the rope to go and explore across these silos.

Later when Mark left the table, I started talking with John about the idea of “breaking down the silos of our mind.” John reminded me of a talk by David Foster Wallace. Wallace speaks of our cognitive bias, how the exact same experience can be interpreted completely different by two people, and how humans have a default setting of being self centered.

Later in the week, a friend was telling David Nalley and I about a monitor he keeps on his desk. This monitor was used by a trader at a brokerage firm. The trader was using a VDI instance and the instance froze up because of a problem. Needless to say, the trader was in the middle of trying to execute a large deal, and wasn’t able. Frustrated, he punched the monitor and cracked the LCD. That monitor now sits there as a constant reminder that “the work we do matters.”

That is what it is really about; breaking down those silos in our head so we remember the person on the end of what we produce.

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