Lessons from an Undercover Boss

After one DevOps transformation in a leadership role I sought out another as an individual contributor. This gave me unique insight on how all levels experience the change curve. These are the lessons I wish I had known and want to share with every leader who is aspiring to be transformational.

Talk Description I first became part of the DevOps community while in the role of a Group Manager on the Mobile Application Team at Nordstrom. There I had the opportunity to lead my teams through a multi year journey towards DevOps maturity. After seeing the positive impacts to what my teams were able to deliver to customers, the balance they had for personal and work lives, and the way they approached problem solving I was hooked.

Seeing that DevOps works I was hungry to do it all over again. This time I chose to join a team that had more challenging architecture than my previous teams and who was early in their journey. I joined as an individual contributor who worked as a Scrum Master/Agile Lead with the working teams. Having been through this before I understood each change and it’s motivations however this new role gave me unfiltered exposure to how those are interpreted by the working teams. I’ve learned what happens when the boss isn’t around. I can now see previous actions I had taken through new eyes.

The last year has given me time and insight to perform a retro on my actions as a leader. Let me share the hard learned lessons I have gained to help you stick with the Continue items, go out of the gate running with my Start ideas, and save you the pain of my Stop lessons.



Sarah Shewell

I help teams discover what their customers need through empathy, build it with quality, and continuously improve how they do those things. When not at work I like to explore kid and dog friendly breweries and make things with my hands.