A Year of Promise Theory and Jobs-To-Be-Done

2016 was a great year for spreading the message about unifying design and operations. I was gratified by the response to my talks on “The Self-Designing Organization” and “Beyond Products” at MX Conference in San Francisco, DevOpsDays in Atlanta, OpsSummit in Berlin, ProductConf in Minneapolis, and LeanDUS in Düsseldorf. I also had the opportunity to lead my “Designing Delivery” workshop for a diverse range of audiences, from design managers to DevOps engineers to cloud service product organizations. I taught designers how to create user experiences that were resilient to database failures, testers how to help their organizations design for service and not just software, and operations engineers how to think about their customers’ larger needs and motivations. It was wonderful to see all the participants stretch themselves to creatively think and problem-solve beyond the boundaries of their disciplines.

2016 strongly affirmed my belief in the need for a common language and approach that joins the insights of Service Design Thinking and DevOps. I got strong feedback from workshop participants that Promise Theory can provide a unifying methodology. Digital business isn’t just about delivering digital products; it’s about becoming digital. Becoming digital means applying continuous design/operations feedback loops, not just to software, but also to how we adopt and adapt new methodologies, and how we run our businesses as a whole. It also affirmed my belief that empathy is key to building agile organizations that also achieve coherency and usefulness without becoming brittle. At every level of the organization, from the microservice on up, we need to think about our customers’ jobs-to-be-done, or promises-to-be-kept, in order to understand how we can help create larger value for each other and for our customers. 

I’m looking forward to spreading this message, and teaching this approach, even more widely in 2017. If you’re interested in having me speak at your conference, or lead a workshop for your organization, drop me a line at https://www.ingineering.it/contact. You can also contact me on twitter at @jeffsussna.