Book Review: Accelerate (Part 2)

Tammy Butow
4 min readAug 19, 2021

G’Day Mate, this is part 2 of a book review for Accelerate. Pull up a chair and let’s get cracking. If you’re looking for part 1 you can find it here.

Get the Accelerate book

In Part 2 we’ll start with reducing deployment pain.

How do I reduce deployment pain?

In Accelerate there are several recommendations to reduce deployment pain. For example:

  1. Build systems that are designed to be deployed easily, can detect and tolerate failures, and can have various components of the system updated independently.
  2. The state of production can be reproduced (without prod data) in an automated fashion via version control
  3. Make the deployment process as simple as possible

How do we prevent or reverse burnout?

As Accelerate explains, burnout “often manifests itself as a feeling of helplessness, and is correlated with pathological cultures and unproductive, wasteful work”.

  • Foster a supportive work environment — ensure work is meaningful and ensure employees understand how their work ties to strategic objectives
  • Foster a respectful work environment — that emphasizes learning from failures rather than blaming
  • Communicate a strong sense of purpose
  • Invest in employee development
  • Ask employees what is preventing them from achieving their objectives and then fix those things
  • Give employees time, space and resources to experiment and learn
  • Give employees the authority to make decisions that affect their work and jobs

Can we predict burnout?

Yes — Accelerate cites research by Christina Maslach that explains it is possible to predict burnout. The important thing is to focus on the work environment, not the person. There are six factors to take into consideration in relation to the work environment — these factors lead to burnout:

  1. Work overload
  2. Lack of control
  3. Insufficient rewards
  4. Breakdown of community
  5. Absence of fairness
  6. Value conflicts

How can measuring employee satisfaction and engagement help my organization?

The research conducted found that not only could measuring employee engagement predict and prevent burnout it could also drive key outcomes like profitability, productivity and market share.

You can measure employee engagement using:

  • Employee Net Promoter Scores — eNPS

There are two questions the accelerate book recommends asking for a rating on (on a scale of 0–10):

  1. Would you recommend your organization as a place to work to a friend or colleague
  2. Would you recommend your team as a place to work to a friend or colleague

What is the role of leaders and managers on the journey to improve tempo and stability?

As Accelerate states, “Being a leader doesn’t mean you have people reporting to you on an organizational chart — leadership is about inspiring and motivating those around you.”

There are the five characteristics of a transformational leader as outlined by Raftery and Griffin and cited in Accelerate. Focus on developing and demonstrating the following:

  1. Vision
  2. Inspirational Communication
  3. Intellectual Stimulation
  4. Supportive Leadership
  5. Personal Recognition

There are a number of practical ways that managers can rollout improvements that improve employee engagement and the ability to improve tempo and stability:

  • Ensure that existing resources are made available to everyone
  • Establish a dedicated training budget
  • Encourage staff to attend technical conferences and share learnings
  • Set up internal hack days
  • Encourage teams to organize yak days — focused on technical debt
  • Hold regular internal DevOps mini-conferences — DevOpsDays
  • Give staff 20% time to experiment with new tools and tech
  • Making it safe to fail — if failure is punished people won’t try new things
  • Create spaces to share information — weekly lightning talks or monthly lunch and learns
  • Demo days and forums — this allows teams to share what they have created with each other and celebrate each other

It’s also important for managers to focus on enabling cross-functional communication by building trust with counterparts on other teams, encouraging practitioners to move between departments, rewarding work that facilitates collaboration.

Disaster Recovery Testing Exercises to Build Relationships

I’m a big fan of Chaos Engineering and Disaster Recovery so I was really excited to see this section. Accelerate shares that using Disaster Recovery Testing Exercises (aka Chaos Engineering Game Days) is a great way to build relationships.

You can read more about running GameDays and DRTs here:

That’s the end of this book review. I highly recommend you check out the Accelerate book, I got it on Kindle myself :))

Follow the authors here:

Get the Accelerate book

Have a great day mate! 📖