The Best of the Professor: The Third Way

The “Best of the Professor” blogs focus on one unique individual topic and will be followed by links to papers with more in depth information.

DevOps initiatives are supported by three basic principles. In his book “The Phoenix Project“, Gene Kim leverages the Theory of Constraints and the knowledge learned in production environments to describe the underlying principles of the DevOps movement in three ways. These principals are referred to as The First Way, The Second Way and the Third Way.   In earlier papers from the “Best of the Professor” we discussed  the “First Way” and how this DevOps principle was all about the flow of work from Left to Right.  We then discussed the “Second Way which was all about the flow of work from right to left and how critical that is for measuring DevOps value.  In this iteration from “The Best of the Professor“, the focus will be on the last of these three DevOps Principles known as “The Third Way”.

The Third Way – Continual Experimentation and Learning (Don’t forget the learning part)

The goal of this DevOps principle known as “The Third Way” is to create a culture that fosters two things.  One of those being continual experimentation such as taking risks and learning from failure and the second thing is to understand that repetition is the prerequisite to mastery.

Every service provider really needs both aspects of “The Third Way” equally. Experimentation and taking risks are what ensures that we keep pushing to improve even if it means going deeper into the danger zone than we have ever gone before.  We also need mastery of the skills that can help us retreat out of that danger zone when we’ve gone too far.  Companies that really want to show their commitment to innovation, and fearlessness when it comes to failure, cannot punish people who fail.  In order to ensure “Continual Experimentation and Learning” will require that we allocate time for the improvement of daily work.  It will also mean that we should create rituals that reward the team for taking risks and perhaps that we introduce faults into the system to increase resilience.  Be sure to read up on all 3 of the DevOps Principles to ensure optimum results.  They really do work.

For further information from the professor on DevOps Principles:

For information regarding Agile and DevOps training and certification:


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