The Top of Ops: How I got here.

This is a good start to first and foremost brief everyone to this topic as well as explain where this is coming from.

Few things have rattled me in my career more than recently becoming a 'team lead.' I’ve been fortunate, so to speak, to be able to pretty much just sit in the weeds and do work I enjoy and avoid all the orchestration that comes with management. Being 10+ years into my post-college life, I knew that I couldn’t always skirt around the additional responsibility that would inevitably be coming my way. People who take great pride in and have a passion for their everyday work, typically get sucked into leadership roles rather they like it or not. Not everyone is best suited for a leadership role, however. The passion and pride pieces of the equation quickly get thrown out for most when they are no longer allowed to focus on the tasks that best suit them and their abilities.

I'll share more on that in a later post.

Obviously, there are great leaders that can recognize this and then make adjustments if/when needed. That is not always the case. Sometimes circumstances don’t allow for that. Sometimes you are in such a young organization, both by team experience and size, that adjustments need to be made with what you have.

For a little context moving forward you need to understand what it is I do. I am a cloud architect working for an organization that provides cloud services… as a service. In the traditional DevOps sense, we do build some applications for internal consumption but our main 'product' is to create managed solutions that provide secure and compliant ways for other sub-organizations that to utilize cloud with little administrative overhead on their part. Then, in turn, they have their own DevOps teams that create additional applications and services.

There is much more to it, but that's a good start. Now back to it...

In the middle of 2017, 6 months into my new role as a cloud administrator/architect, our organization decided to redesign and split the single operations team into a design/development team and an operations team. In certain aspects, this was an obvious move. In others it was premature. The concepts of DevOps remained the same but because we were still such a small organization already, both teams became even smaller. Not a major problem if all leaders understand what that means for the types of projects needing to be done, the process to which projects will flow, and most importantly, who is responsible for what pieces.

When the separation was made I was asked to become the Ops team lead and the previous lead was moved to the Design/Dev team lead. All other dynamics remained the same except having a true understanding of how work and projects were going to be transitioned. That is where we stuck for the 6 months that followed.

There are many different types of DevOps team structures. Some you can find HERE. Using those models, right now I don’t know for sure which one we are or where we are trying to go.

And that is what this theme/thread/topic is going to be about.

How does someone take these methodologies and dynamic to then:

  • build successful individuals, teams, and an organization
  • support hundreds of services at an enterprise scale
  • design near bulletproof solutions that increase efficiency
  • create a culture that either 1.) makes no one wants to take their experience and go somewhere else or 2.) if they do leave, make sure they are set up to be way better off in their next role.

This is a new topic and adventure for me and I look forward to growing and sharing with you as well as hopefully learning from you along the way.

If you are interested in learning more and getting notifications about future posts and articles, please subscribe to my mailing list at and please comment and share your experiences below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ross Wickman

Husband, Father, and owner @TactfulCloud. I help people better understand technology on the . Not to mention a