I have attended the Config Management Camp in Gent this year, where I also presented the talk “Promise theory: from configuration management to team leadership“. A thrilling experience, considering that I was talking about promise theory at the same conference and in the same track where Mark Burgess, the inventor of promise theory, was holding one of the keynotes!
The quality of the conference was as good as always, but my experience at the conference was completely different from the past. Last time I attended, in 2016, I was actively using CFEngine and that shaped in both the talks I attended and the people that I hanged on with the most. This year I was coming from a different work environment and a different job: I jumped a lot through the different tracks and devrooms, and talked with many people with a very different experience than mine. And that was truly enriching. I’ll focus on one experience in particular, that led me to see what the future of configuration management could be.
Can Promise Theory help you shape a better, effective leadership style?
Promise-based leadership will be the topic of the talk I will hold at two conferences. The first one is the Config Management Camp in Gent, Belgium, and it’s pretty close: February 5th. The second conference is the glorious Incontro DevOps Italia 2018, the Italian DevOps Meeting in Bologna, on March 9th.
When I joined Telenor Digital as the Head of IT I had to find an unconventional leadership style, as circumstances didn’t allow for a traditional one based on the “line-of-command” approach. After so many years spent with using CFEngine it was quite natural to me to use Promise Theory to model my new “reality” and understand how I could exploit exactly those peculiarities that were making the traditional leadership approach pointless.
Promise-based leadership has clear limits in applicability. It requires the right attitude in leaders and the right culture in the company. Where the right leaders and the right culture are present, I am confident that it provides significant advantages compared to the conventional approach based on top-down imposition.
I have been doing promise-based leadership for a bit more than one year now, regardless of people being direct reports or simply colleagues at any level of the hierarchy. My talk is a report of the experience so far. I don’t have definitive answers yet and there are several unanswered questions. I will be a bit tight with my talk schedule and I won’t be able to take many questions, but I hope to have several interesting conversations “on the side” of the conference events 🙂
One fun fact for closing: when I submitted to Config Management Camp I wasn’t really confident that my talk would be accepted because, I thought, the topic was kind-of “tangent” to the conference’s, so I didn’t even plan to attend. Later on the keynotes were announced, and one of them will be held by Mark Burgess, the inventor of Promise Theory. A few weeks more and I was informed that my talk was accepted and they actually liked it. So I will be talking of promise-based leadership at the same conference, in the same track and in the same room as the inventor of Promise Theory himself. Guess how hard I am working to put together a decent talk in time… 😀
As the title says: the code for cf-deploy is now on github. Please ensure you read the README to understand the current limitations, and please help improving the tool.
The thing it’s lacking most is an external configuration file. Other useful additions could be Makefiles to support different version control systems other than git, and tools other than rsync for deployments.
The Config Management Camp 2015 is gone leaving its trail of inspiring presentations, interesting discussions, pleasant meetings with great people and, hopefully, satisfaction for how each of us has played his/her part to make this edition a success.
A big thank for the brave people that attended my seminar and to those who asked questions. The questions gave me a couple of ideas to further expand the seminar, and more may come if you’re so kind to let me know your opinion on the talk: what you liked, what you didn’t, what could be improved in both the talk and the speaker’s style. Thanks in advance. As for the code of the tools, I promise to publish it on GitHub as soon as I get “clearance” (this week, possibly!).
For those who weren’t at the seminar, I presented how we evolved our git repository structure to support more than one project, each one with its own needs, but at the same time being able to share the relevant common libraries and tools and to make the deployment of the policies easy, manageable and maintainable, whatever the number of hubs and projects involved. The questions dove nose down to how we manage access to the hubs so that a person working on project A can’t accidentally deploy his policies on the hubs supporting project B, how we manage access rights to files in separate projects and to branches, and how easy or hard is to extend the deployment tool with new functionality.
The slides of the presentation are on SpeakerDeck (or further down the post if you don’t bother go to SpeakerDeck 😉 The good guys at Normation also filmed the seminar, so it’s just a matter of time that a video of the seminar will be available. Then you’ll also be able to hear my appeal to support cancer research, talking of which you can check another blog post of mine.
Regarding the talks I attended and the “hallway track”, Jez Humble’s keynote was definitely a mind blowing experience. Leaving aside the things that I am doing wrong, that we are doing wrong in my work environment, and that a broad set of people in our profession is f***ing up completely, I understood that there is a category that definitely needs to be more present at events like this: bosses. Because we can do a good job as professionals, follow the best practices, use the brightest and shiniest tools of today and some of the tools of tomorrow, but that’s definitely not enough to establish a culture of cross-area collaboration. That’s not going to happen without the direct involvement of the bosses and their mandate.
It’s been about a month since I came back from FOSDEM and cfgmgmtcamp, a month where I gradually recovered from the the backlog both in the office and at home. It’s been a wonderful experience, especially at cfgmgmtcamp, and I really want to thank all those that helped make it special — more details at the end of this article.
But promise is debt (no pun intended with promise theory here), and I promised to write a long blog post with some (or all) the details from my talks. It’s time to keep that promise. So, without any further ado…