What parents can learn about emotional investment from dev/ops

Posted on Posted in Parenting, Software Development

Devops, the software development methodology in which engineers are not only responsible for architecting and building software, but also infrastructure and operational tasks like fleet management, logging, and monitoring, can teach parents a lot about how to educate their children and be better partners in their development. In this process, developers take on additional roles and responsibilities from typical IT responsibilities in an effort to improve the end to end quality and speed of delivery of features for users. These principles carry over well to raising children, particularly by instilling a sense of ownership by involving others as stakeholders and getting them invested in the results. Using this methodology to build a sense of emotional investment in children will result in better behavior and happier kids.

What is emotional investment?

A frequent source of bad or undesirable behavior in young children is frustration with being told what to do rather than why. Of course there are times when children need to be told directly what to do, but the goal is to give them the reasons you want to see a certain behavior and let them find a way to express it. By doing so, the child becomes invested in the outcome and will want to see it through. For example, rather than telling the child to give a family member a hug, explain to them that the person means a lot to them and that showing their affection and appreciation would show that love. Then, they can decide how they would like to show it. This way, rather than constantly feeling like they are not in control of anything in their life and lashing out, they can turn their energy and attention to solving the problem of how best to demonstrate their feeling in a positive way. Bringing them into the decision as a stakeholder or investor encourages participation in a constructive manner rather than forcing them to make a decision between the option you gave them and lashing out.

Changing the focus to the positive side of decision making can have great results for children. By getting them emotionally invested in the outcome, you bring them in as partners rather than adversaries. A child’s life can often feel out of their control. From birth they get carted around at their parents’ whims, often like a sack of potatoes. They get told what to do, when, and if they resist, get in trouble. No wonder when an option presents itself to resist, they often take it. Giving them constructive and positive options on the other hand, will allow them to take control, but without acting out and still likely getting the end result you want if you guide them right. It’s the difference between leading and dictating. It’s a hard balance to strike, especially in times of stress, but finding that balance can mean a huge difference in results.

What is devops?

Devops, a contraction of development and operations, encourages the same sense of partnership and investment in the entire process. Rather than traditional software development where developers write code and push it to operational support teams, devops makes developers responsible for all aspects of software and running it in production for real users. By increasing the responsibility of the developers, they become invested in the full success of the software product. Making developers responsible for the stability of production systems encourages ownership of the full product and results in faster time to market of benefits to users. Because developers own the entire process, changes that benefit users with new features, improvements, or bug fixes can be made and released faster, meaning users see these benefits quicker. This can be a huge competitive advantage as well as new ideas are realized to market faster. Because of this single threaded ownership model, bottlenecks are removed in the process too. Because a single person is responsible for the feature from inception to deployment, the rate of failure is decreased as there is less context switching and hand-off. Lastly, because the release cycle is reduced, any bug fixes or incremental improvements can be identified faster and addressed sooner.

This process, like Agile, benefits all involved due to the combination of improved ownership and faster iteration time. By bringing those involved in as stakeholders in the process and increasing ownership, things are built more consistently and with higher quality. Users benefit as well as they get beneficial features sooner. Because of this reduced timeline, features are delivered in an iterative manner with smaller increments that can be measured independently. By doing so, results can be measured quickly and lessons learned, all while adapting to this data and making improvements in the next quick iteration. This approach can be improved by incorporating continuous integration, in which all changes for features are automatically built and tested against all other changes to ensure quality and consistency. Further, continuous delivery, in which changes are frequently delivered incrementally with little human intervention, can reduce time to market further and improve quality, while reducing risk of problems. All of these processes build on the philosophy of building quickly, learning, and adapting.

How can I use devops to teach emotional investment?

This same approach of increasing ownership and iterating quickly can inform child rearing as well. Increasing the sense of ownership and moreso, control, for children can have drastic improvements in behavior. This control has to be directed in the right direction though. Giving children unmitigated control is a quick recipe for disaster. Explaining the context and reasoning for why they should behave in a certain way provides this direction and guide to the behavior you want to see while allowing them the freedom to decide how to proceed best. This freedom both encourages them to become emotionally invested in the outcome as well as provides them a feedback and learning mechanism. If they perform well, it reinforces the behavior and encourages them to further problem solve in the future. If not, at least they learn what doesn’t work and can adjust going forward. This approach ties into the growth mindset in which children focus on improving their skills and talents and become adults that problem solve effectively by encouraging trying and potentially failing, all while learning. Encouraging ownership in problem solving, decision making, and how to act to others will develop these skills in children and provide them with the mechanism to further grow and develop their interpersonal communication and interactions later in life. In short, treat little ones like true human beings and they will grow up to be decent ones.