Organizational Culture - Operational Excellence Pillar

Organizational Culture

Provide support for your team members so that they can be more effective in taking action and supporting your business outcome.

Executive Sponsorship: Senior leadership clearly sets expectations for the organization and evaluates success. Senior leadership is the sponsor, advocate, and driver for the adoption of best practices and evolution of the organization.

Team members are empowered to take action when outcomes are at risk: The workload owner has defined guidance and scope empowering team members to respond when outcomes are at risk. Escalation mechanisms are used to get direction when events are outside of the defined scope.

Escalation is encouraged: Team members have mechanisms and are encouraged to escalate concerns to decision makers and stakeholders if they believe outcomes are at risk. Escalation should be performed early and often so that risks can be identified, and prevented from causing incidents.

Communications are timely, clear, and actionable: Mechanisms exist and are used to provide timely notice to team members of known risks and planned events. Necessary context, details, and time (when possible) are provided to support determining if action is necessary, what action is required, and to take action in a timely manner. For example, providing notice of software vulnerabilities so that patching can be expedited, or providing notice of planned sales promotions so that a change freeze can be implemented to avoid the risk of service disruption.

Planned events can be recorded in a change calendar or maintenance schedule so that team members can identify what activities are pending.

On AWS, AWS Systems Manager Change Calendar can be used to record these details. It supports programmatic checks of calendar status to determine if the calendar is open or closed to activity at a particular point of time. Operations activities may be planned around specific “approved” windows of time that are reserved for potentially disruptive activities. AWS Systems Manager Maintenance Windows allows you to schedule activities against instances and other supported resources to automate the activities and make those activities discoverable.

Experimentation is encouraged: Experimentation accelerates learning and keeps team members interested and engaged. An undesired result is a successful experiment that has identified a path that will not lead to success. Team members are not punished for successful experiments with undesired results. Experimentation is required for innovation to happen and turn ideas into outcomes.

Team members are enabled and encouraged to maintain and grow their skill sets: Teams must grow their skill sets to adopt new technologies, and to support changes in demand and responsibilities in support of your workloads. Growth of skills in new technologies is frequently a source of team member satisfaction and supports innovation. Support your team members’ pursuit and maintenance of industry certifications that validate and acknowledge their growing skills. Cross train to promote knowledge transfer and reduce the risk of significant impact when you lose skilled and experienced team members with institutional knowledge. Provide dedicated structured time for learning.

AWS provides resources, including the AWS Getting Started Resource Center, AWS Blogs, AWS Online Tech Talks, AWS Events and Webinars, and the AWS Well-Architected Labs, that provide guidance, examples, and detailed walkthroughs to educate your teams.

AWS also shares best practices and patterns that we have learned through the operation of AWS in The Amazon Builders' Library and a wide variety of other useful educational material through the AWS Blog and The Official AWS Podcast.

You should take advantage of the education resources provided by AWS such as the Well-Architected labs, AWS Support (AWS Knowledge Center, AWS Discussion Forms, and AWS Support Center) and AWS Documentation to educate your teams. Reach out to AWS Support through AWS Support Center for help with your AWS questions.

AWS Training and Certification provides some free training through self-paced digital courses on AWS fundamentals. You can also register for instructor-led training to further support the development of your teams’ AWS skills.

Resource teams appropriately: Maintain team member capacity, and provide tools and resources, to support your workload needs. Overtasking team members increases the risk of incidents resulting from human error. Investments in tools and resources (for example, providing automation for frequently executed activities) can scale the effectiveness of your team, enabling them to support additional activities.

Diverse opinions are encouraged and sought within and across teams: Leverage cross-organizational diversity to seek multiple unique perspectives. Use this perspective to increase innovation, challenge your assumptions, and reduce the risk of confirmation bias. Grow inclusion, diversity, and accessibility within your teams to gain beneficial perspectives.

Organizational culture has a direct impact on team member job satisfaction and retention. Enable the engagement and capabilities of your team members to enable the success of your business.