Chapter 21. Organizational Change Management in SRE

In the introduction to the first SRE Book, Ben Treynor Sloss describes SRE teams as “characterized by both rapid innovation and a large acceptance of change,” and specifies organizational change management as a core responsibility of an SRE team. This chapter examines how theory can apply in practice across SRE teams. After reviewing some key change management theories, we explore two case studies that demonstrate how different styles of change management have played out in concrete ways at Google.

Note that the term change management has two interpretations: organizational change management and change control. This chapter examines change management as a collective term for all approaches to preparing and supporting individuals, teams, and business units in making organizational change. We do not discuss this term within a project management context, where it may be used to refer to change control processes, such as change review or versioning.

SRE Embraces Change

More than 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus claimed change is the only constant. This axiom still holds true today—especially in regards to technology, and particularly in rapidly evolving internet and cloud sectors.

Product teams exist to build products, ship features, and delight customers. At Google, most change is fast-paced, following a “launch and iterate” approach. Executing ...

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