Hospitality of DevOps

I found myself reading both The DevOps Handbook and Setting the Table at the same time. Setting the Table is a mid-career memoir by Danny Meyer, the famous restauranteur who opened Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and started Shake Shack. The focus of the book was the importance of weaving hospitality into each day of serving customers.

The Customer Experience team was using Setting the Table as an exercise in discussing hospitality and its critical part in customer-facing businesses. The crux of our business is to offer a human touch to an experience often wrought with frustration, long wait times and impersonal interactions. I work pretty closely with the CX team and wanted to get some better insight into the customer-facing mindset, so I picked up an extra copy of the book we had lying around.

The DevOps Handbook is a partner book to The Phoenix Project. The core of the DevOps movement is to improve the experience and efficiency of technology organizations. The term DevOps is a portmanteau of Development and Operations.

I began thinking about how to combine these two ideas. These are two ideas deemed critical to their respective businesses. Ultimately, the same thread ties together the concept of focused hospitality and the purpose of DevOps. Each works to provide the best experience to the engagers of our product, whether that’s serving meals or running servers. Both concepts understand that in order to take care of the guest we must first take care of the employees, ensuring smooth operations so that guests can continue to have enjoyable interactions. Speaking about DevOps, our primary stakeholders are our employees (can we keep infrastructure as code, can we reduce the non-working hours time DevOps spend, can we make our lives easier and more aligned with the incentives of the company?) so that we can provide the best experience for our guests (the developers and ultimately the end users who expect uptime and performance).

Both concepts are ultimately about providing great experiences to our customers. It just depends on who our customers are.

DevOps is an extension of increased efficiency and effectiveness of an organization, but from a technological perspective. There is a large service component involved - how can we improve the experience of the developers within our organization? Hospitality is the same in that the ROI pays dividends in future visits. Meyer drives this point home often - while there may be a short-term cost to righting a wrong such as comping meals that were prepared incorrectly, bringing clothes to the cleaners when wine had been spilled on them - the long-term gain is unquantifiable due to the word of mouth about the hospitality spread by the guest, and guaranteed repeat business and the foundation of a trusting relationship. DevOps focuses on improving routines and procedures so that the ROI of future endeavors improves.