The Five Ideals: How Structure and Architecture Enable Developer Productivity

I’ve spent 22 years studying high-performing technology organizations. In The Unicorn Project, I attempt to frame what I’ve learned studying technology leaders adopting DevOps principles and patterns in large, complex organizations, often having to fight deeply entrenched orthodoxies. And yet, despite huge obstacles, they create incredibly effective and innovative teams that create beacons of greatness that inspire us all.

In my previous books, I’ve focused on principles and practices (e.g., Three Ways, Four Types of Work). However, I’ve always wanted to describe the spectrum of cultural, experiential and value decisions we make that either enable greatness or create chronic suffering and underperformance. They are currently as follows:

  • The First Ideal: Locality and Simplicity
  • The Second Ideal: Focus, Flow and Joy
  • The Third Ideal: Improvement of Daily Work
  • The Fourth Ideal: Psychological Safety
  • The Fifth Ideal: Customer Focus

In this talk, I’ll share with you my goals and aspirations for The Unicorn Project, describe in detail the Five Ideals, along with my favorite case studies of both ideal and non-ideal, and why I believe more than ever that DevOps will be one of the most potent economic forces for decades to come.

I’ll also share the work I’ve been doing with Dr. Steven Spear on a theory of organizations, describing how organizational structure and architecture may be one of the best leading indicators of performance. This title (yet to be named) is coming in 2023.

Gene Kim