Build resilient systems at scale
May 27–29, 2015 • Santa Clara, CA

Organizational pathologies in information technology

Mandi Walls (Chef)
4:10pm–4:50pm Thursday, 05/28/2015
Location: Mission City Ballroom B1
Average rating: ****.
(4.29, 14 ratings)
Slides:   1-ZIP 

Prerequisite Knowledge

Individual contributors with a few years of experience. Mid-career technologists with experience in two or more organizations.


Technology organizations react to internal and external pressures in various ways. Fast-moving tools, products, and methodologies, combined with budget pressures, capital expenses, security requirements, and staffing challenges create a miasma of issues that IT teams are often unprepared to handle effectively.

This talk will discuss a number of different individual and team behaviors encountered in technology teams, how these behaviors impact workflow and success, and some strategies for identifying and coping with these behaviors in practice. Beyond simply classifying teams as “functional” or “dysfunctional,” we’ll examine specific patterns manifesting in companies large and small, that may or may not primarily be technology companies. We’ll look at individual behaviors such as Empire Building and Exceptionalism, group behaviors such as Learned Helplessness, and the use and treatment of vendors and external sourcing.

This talk will draw from years of first-hand professional services experience with companies in various fields and countries. It will touch on aspects of organizational behavior that impact technologists, work patterns, and the ability of organizations to adopt practices as varying as continuous delivery and blameless postmortems.

Photo of Mandi Walls

Mandi Walls


Mandi Walls is consulting director for EMEA at Chef. For Chef, she travels the world helping organizations increase their effectiveness using configuration management and modernizing IT practices. Prior to joining Chef, she ran large web properties for AOL, including,, and Moviefone. Mandi has a Master’s degree in Computer Science from GWU and an MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler. She is a regular speaker at technical conferences and is the author of Building a DevOps Culture, published by O’Reilly.