Why Automation Matters : Why You Will Fail!

The biggest problem you are likely to encounter with any type of change is people!

People don’t want to change, even if they say they do. You would think an industry that is based on constant innovation would be filled with people who are desperate to move forward, but that’s not true. Most people like the steady state. They want to come to work today and do exactly what they did yesterday.

Automation itself is not that difficult. The difficult part is the culture change required. There is a reason why new startup companies can innovate so rapidly. They are staffed by a small number of highly motivated people, who are all excited by the thought of doing something new and different. The larger and more established a company becomes, the harder it is to innovate. There are too many people who are happy to make do. Too many layers of management who, despite what they say in meetings, ultimately don’t want the disruption caused by change. Too many people who want to be part of the process, but spend most of their time focussing on “why not” and (sometimes unknowingly) sabotaging things, rather than getting stuck in. Too many people who suck the life out of you.

It’s exhausting, and that’s one of the worst things about this. It’s easy to take someone who is highly motivated and grind them down to the point where there is no more fight left in them, and they become a new recruit to the stationary crowd.

I’ve been around long enough to know this is a repeating cycle. When I started working in tech I encountered people telling me why relational databases were rubbish. Why virtualization was rubbish. Why NoSQL is rubbish. More recently why Agile is rubbish. Why containers are rubbish. Why cloud is rubbish. Why CI/CD is rubbish. Why DevOps is rubbish. The list goes on…

I’m not saying everything “new” is good and everything old is trash. I’m just saying you have to give things a proper go before you make these judgements. Decide what is the right tool for the job in question. Something might genuinely not be right for you, but that doesn’t mean it is crap for everyone. It also doesn’t mean it might not be right for you in the next project. And be honest! If you don’t want to do something, say you don’t want to do it. Don’t position yourself as an advocate, then piss on everyone’s parade!

I’m convinced companies that don’t focus on automation will die. If you have people trying to move your company forward, please support them, or at least get out of their way. They don’t need another hurdle to jump over!

I wrote a series of posts about automation here.



If at first you don’t succeed, give up?

Over the years I’ve noticed people have very different attitudes to problem resolution.

For some people the first hint of a problem leads them to believe what they are trying to do is impossible. I remember having a discussion with a former colleague about their solution to a problem. When I asked why they used a particular approach they said, “I tried to do it one way but it wouldn’t compile, so I used this approach instead.” I kid you not! Something as simple as a compilation failure was enough to make them lose confidence in their approach. If I changed tack every time something didn’t compile I’d never finish anything. 🙂

When you are trying to get to grips with something new it can feel a little like you are banging your head against a brick wall at times. When it gets like that you have to take a step back and ask yourself whether you have exhausted all the possibilities. In my case, I often get into this state because I’m in the weeds and I’m rushing to complete tasks. I believe I’ve tried every possibility, but actually I’ve missed out something, or tried two things at once (to “save time”) that cancelled each other out. I have to ask myself, “What was my last good state?”, switch back to that point and start again in a more controlled and meticulous manner.

It’s a bit like looking for “lost” keys. You convince yourself you’ve checked everywhere and can’t find them, then eventually you start from scratch and search properly, only to find them sitting on your desk in the usual place, but with a solitary piece of paper over them. 🙂

I’m not saying you should keep banging your head against a brick wall forever, but you have to learn tactics for solving problems, one of which is being honest with yourself. Have you really tried, or did you just make a quick stab at it then give up?

If you’re a follower of the blog you may be thinking I’m going to say something about people having a passive approach to learning and not taking personal responsibility for their own development, but I’m not going to. 🙂