Saturday, June 16, 2018

Managing Change the DOTMPLF Way

Most of us understand that if we run out one day and buy a cello, we won’t be able to play music like Yo-Yo Ma that same day. To be able to play something that resembles music you would need training, practice, and a safe place to store the cello. However, sometimes we don’t think about what’s necessary to achieve a new capability beyond just buying something like a new piece of software. To help understand the different types of changes that need to be made for successful technology injection, the US military uses the acronym DOTMLPF-P (pronounced Dot-M-L-P-F-P) that stands for Doctrine, Organization, Materiel, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities, and Policy.

Let’s say I want to change a team from doing deployments once a quarter to deploy once a week. Could I just install Jenkins and declare victory? That approach is unlikely to be successful because you will need to plan for personnel to configure Jenkins. You may need to train people on configuring and using Jenkins. You may need an organizational change to form a DevOps team to design and build out the initial deployment pipelines. To get the resources to do this and people focused on it, you will need to provide leadership. You may also need additional equipment like a new server to host Jenkins. You might rethink your change management policy if it can’t accommodate frequent releases. You may need to change the doctrine you follow, the way you develop and test software, by emphasizing smaller, quicker releases, changing your branching structure, using feature flags, and implementing automating tests. For this one change, you had to think about not just obtaining and installing the software but the doctrine, organization, training, materials (software & hardware), leadership, personnel, and policy -- seven components of DOTMLPF-P.

Below is the military definition of each element of DOTMLPF-P along with my own translation for a software developer or other IT professional.

Military Definition: “the way we fight (e.g., emphasizing maneuver warfare, combined air-ground campaigns).”
Developer Definition: The high level approached based on a set of general principles that we use to deliver software. Think agile as guided by the agile manifesto, RUP, or waterfall as different doctrines. Software delivery has predominantly shifted to small multi-disciplinary teams producing small and quick releases to production.

Military Definition: “how we organize to fight (e.g., divisions, air wings, Marine-Air Ground Task Forces)”
Developer Definition: How we divide into teams to deliver working software (feature teams, project teams, separate functional dev and test teams).

Military Definition: “how we prepare to fight tactically (basic training to advanced individual training, unit training, joint exercises, etc).”
Developer Definition: How we learn to deliver software. Training in programming languages, new technologies, agile practices, security and other software and system engineering competencies. This may include formal training classes like a certification bootcamps, peer training, college courses, etc.

Military Definition: “all the ‘stuff’ necessary to equip our forces.” When considering a new purchase, the definition is restricted to equipment “that DOES NOT require a new development effort (weapons, spares, test sets, etc that are ‘off the shelf’ both commercially and within the government)” to focus on considering existing solutions to potentially fill a capability gap.
Developer Definition: Your tools. This may include servers, workstation, Visual Studio, Eclipse, Emacs, etc.

Leadership and education
Military Definition: “how we prepare our leaders to lead the fight (squad leader to 4-star general/admiral -  professional development)”
Developer Definition: Leadership is necessary to bring people together to focus on solving a problem. If you are using 10 year old development tools and techniques or everyone thinks your processes don’t make sense but nobody does anything about it, it’s probably because your team lacks leadership. Leadership doesn’t have to come from formal managers. Indeed, to move up in the ranks, showing initiative, drive and leading even small changes like upgrading Visual Studio across the whole development team goes a long way to distinguish you as someone who is engaged, cares about the team, and can drive change.

Military Definition: “availability of qualified people for peacetime, wartime, and various contingency operations”
Developer Definition: The people you have on your team(s).

Military Definition: “real property, installations, and industrial facilities (e.g., government owned ammunition production facilities)”
Developer Definition: The physical space where your team works and the physical space where your servers are hosted. If you are hosting servers in your own facility, you have to think about heating and cooling, fire suppression systems, access controls and other physical security issues. If you are forming a new team or rearranging teams you may also think about how your office space is laid out to allow for collaboration and for quiet time.

Military Definition: “DoD, interagency, or international policy that impacts the other seven non-materiel elements”
Developer Definition: The rules you must follow as part of your software delivery process. For example, all changes must be approved by the Configuration Change Board prior to deploying to production.

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