Mike Bland

Another break, another speech

I've resigned from 18F, am taking some time off, and am speaking at the Beyond20'16 conference next week.

- Alexandria
Tags: 18F, Federal government, personal

I resigned from 18F as of this past March 4, 2016. I meant to post sooner, but I’ve been reluctant to do much of anything with computers ’til now. In the meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying gorgeous Old Town Alexandria in the spring, running and exercising, making time for friends, taking guitar and piano lessons again, reading a lot of early United States history (which isn’t the fairy tale we were raised to believe), and generally relaxing before I dive into the next gig.

Still, I do have one project going on: I’m the opening keynote speaker at the Beyond20’16 conference in Washington, D.C. next week. Much of the talk is cribbed from my DevOps Enterprise Summit 2015 talk, since the “Google story” is what a lot of folks want to hear and I plan to recap my government projects. However, I’ll have a full hour to speak, and I’m trying to push the boundaries a bit by relating the core principles required to produce culture change (specifically Google’s automated testing adoption and DevOps “transformations”) to those which produced the federal government of the United States.

On the one hand, I’m trying to find new angles for the same old story, so I don’t get comfortable and neither I nor my audience gets bored. On the other, I’m trying to reach beyond the pure entertainment and inspirational value of the story, as well as the hype surrounding Agile, DevOps, and “unicorns” like Google. I’m hoping to provide an ideological framework that emphasizes the real value of these organizational practices, which is to make the liberty, growth, and well-being of employees the first priority; and in so doing, to empower and inspire them to do their best work. All the other business-related benefits that’re often touted as value propositions of testing, Agile, and DevOps naturally flow from this fundamental principle. As proof, I offer not just my Google tale, but the long-term success of the American experiment, though I also aim to underscore how it required an extraordinary focus on that principle and a deliberate, decades-long effort to produce a working, lasting implementation upon that foundation.

If I’m going to preach to the choir, I’m going to try like hell to deepen their faith.