The article “Everything as Code: Enterprise IT Management Under DevOps”  ( describes how DevOps transforms IT into code.  Just as written language builds knowledge and DNA enables the evolution of life, everything-as-code shatters the knowledge silos of IT, allowing information to flow freely.  Code can be stored, revised, and versioned.  More importantly it can be shared to evolve into datasets that embody the mind of the modern AI company.  It breaks down traditional corporate, national, gender, and generational boundaries.  By recording infrastructure as code (via IaS) and business processes as code (via CI/CD), the Industry stops reinventing and starts evolving the collective mind of the modern AI company.

But unlike legacy companies, AI companies cannot afford to be psychotic.  They need to ‘feel’ as well as ‘think.’  DevOps only provides cognitive tools to commoditize and scale transactions.  What can stretch trust across these social exchanges so transactions flow?  Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) can with its use of trust technologies.  Why?  Because trust and other emotions enable and trigger all business decisions.  Even the most pragmatic executive or engineer waits until they “feel” they have collected enough data and then act.  And they only act if they trust the players and situation.  Feeling is the trigger.  Feeling is the enabler.  Without emotions, cognitive tools remain unused.

This paper on SRE is split into a three-part article that addresses:

  • Why choose SRE over other options?
  • What human emotions are patched by SRE?
  • How to Implement SRE? Some examples and approaches.

This first part speaks to the Why of SRE:

  • Introduction: SRE aggregates human emotions.
  • Limits of industrial age companies.
  • Limits of emotional intelligence.
  • Scientific bias from unprocessed trauma
  • Cognitive bias within Total Quality Management (TQM)
  • Resulting Emotional tectonics
  • The argument for SRE

Introduction: SRE Aggregates Human Emotions.

Unlike mental tools, emotions are buggy.  The fight-flight-freeze response hardwires humans to escalate into rigidity, irrationality, and distrust.  This state shuts off much of the frontal cortex, promotes all-or-nothing thinking, and turns on preprogrammed patriarchal socialization.  Specifically, the focus becomes the positions taken, rather than exploring ways to reframe the problem into a solvable solution.  The goal switches from problem fixing to people fixing.  Specifically, fixing the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the opposition – ironically the very party distrusted.

This is how biology hardwires top-down patriarchy.  Workers lock-into positions and surrender their power to feel, think, and act.  Instead they cast an all-or-nothing vote, up or down, on management’s plan.    Narcissism, border personality disorder, and psychonic disorders flourish in management to create an imbalanced relationship and direct decision making toward management.  Specifically, these people do not respond to social queues and this forces workers to use their emotional intelligence to conform the business to the inflexible leadership.  The goal of all these socialization patterns have evolved for the same reason as the fight-flight-freeze response.  It coordinates the corporate body to a single decision or goal.

SRE devises a more transparent and granular path to decision making by ‘patching’ emotions through depersonalization and abstraction of trust into currencies.  This shifts trust dependence away from individuals and onto the overall systems, allowing individuals to flex and change while the system remains relatively stable and provides the trust required for transactions to flow.

Many trust technologies already exist today such as banking, government, and religion.  These trust technologies prevent transactions from degrading into primitive fight-flight-freeze exchanges at both the individual and organizational level.  Would you accept an IOU from a stranger?  Yes, through currency.  Would you kill them?  Yes, as a soldier for a government.  As Milgram’s famous study showed, the more socialized a person is, the more susceptible they will adopt the intentions of the whole, overriding their own intentions.  The educated, the employed, and the soldier are more likely than the homeless person to let someone starve, take their property, or even kill them just because society says it is OK.  It also makes them more likely to pay their taxes, believe a piece of paper, such as a dollar, has value, or stop at a red light at 2am with not a soul on the road.  For better or worse, socialized people more readily adopt society’s emotional state through trust technologies and suppress their own thoughts, feelings, and intentions.

SRE simply extends these trust technologies into other areas.  In doing so they build trust infrastructure and unblock the emotional data percolating up from peer-to-peer matriarchal exchanges in the trenches.  With SRE in place, the company becomes a worker to worker, bottom up, information building machine.  SRE and DevOps build the emotional and mental datasets at the heart and mind of the modern AI company and makes them less psychotic than their industrial predecessors.

Limits of Industrial Age Companies

Emotionally, legacy companies evolved from factories and industrial age thinking.  They commoditize workers as expendable widgets that toil stoically in isolation on a factory floor.  Workers are mentally and emotionally siloed into transactions and parts, strung together by a strong patriarch hierarchy using power struggles and coercion to achieve direction.

This centralizes corporate consciousness to leadership and sets organizational directions and goals without input from the workers.  This top down thinking produces rapid change and economic expansion, which works great in a capitalistic system.  It generalizes the natural fight-flight-freeze response and elevates it to the organizational level.  Much like a deer faced with a predator, the entire company as a whole either attacks, bolts, or goes ridged in a unified manner.

Though this patriarchal-militaristic approach works for navigating capitalistic markets, it lacks the sophistication and long term thinking of matriarchal nurturing, required to prevent myopic focus, corruption, and otherwise immoral behavior.  On the world stage it leads to world wars, overpopulation, and environmental destruction.  Without granular worker input, emotional intelligence as well as situational awareness fails to percolate up the organizational hierarchy as industrial intuition and wisdom.  Instead these feelings remain stuck in stagnating pools.  This restricts emotional expression and mannerisms to accepted social protocols, dependent on gender, social standing, and race.   Meanwhile at the top, ego driven leaders capitalistically prioritize staying in power over running their business.  As a result, they make decisions based on myopic and stale data points.

The modern AI company exploits all these untapped worker emotions by breaking emotional silos through SRE.  These additional bottom up emotional links stitch together a single organism from the colony of isolated parts and transactions.  As such, these companies are not top down.  They are worker to worker, bottom up, information and emotion building machines.

They use SRE to commoditize the emotional capital into currencies in order to dedramatize feelings and enable exchanges to accelerate the velocity of trust flowing through an organization.  They avoid power struggles, mental judgement, and emotional repression in order to maximize information and feelings flowing into the datasets.  They use constructive post mortems, shared ownership, and customer surveys to build emotional integrity and authentic self-awareness of the whole.  Social protocols such as dress, clothes, even gender expression are explicitly broken to maximize the transparency and authenticity of the worker, which is required to properly manifest the dataset.  Similar to science, the emphasis is on eliminating ‘false positives’ over ‘false negatives.’  This minimizes incorrect assumptions which, due to the butterfly effect, can taint large swaths of the dataset.   However, in the case of SRE, authenticity and management of emotion is the goal rather than authenticity and management of thinking as is more the case in science.

This emergence of emotional transparency is driving the transition from hierarchical top-down patriarchal companies into peer-to-peer holistic matriarch families as the world transitions from the industrial age to the AI centric diamond age.

Limits of Emotional Intelligence

Human emotion is limited.  This is because in an ‘evolutionary minute’ humans have gone from small tribal bands of a few hundred to cities over tens of millions and countries numbering over a billion.  Coined Dunbar’s Number, 150 appears to be the cognitive limit of the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships, where everyone knows everyone else and how they relate to one another.

To work around this genetic limitation, social invention enables humans to aggregate into hierarchies with larger and larger numbers.  These trust technologies include charity, division of labor, and good exchange systems.  They in turn evoked the invention of government, religion, and banking along with currency.  Without these technologies depersonalizing and abstracting human trust into transactional methods and institutions, humans would remain limited to small multiples of Dunbar’s Number.

Ironically, having these trust technologies lowered the emotional pain levels to dissuade further social invention during the industrial revolution.  People had long forgotten the life prior to these institutions.  They no longer could see currency as inedible metal or just slips of paper.  Though depressions and recessions occurred, these trust systems never systemically broke and always recovered within a couple years.  As such, not enough pain existed to evoke the development of new emotional tools to augment what preexisted.

Worse, trust technologies skew emotional focus away from reality and onto the trust technology itself.  For example, many studies have shown increased pay leads to diminished work performance as the individual’s focus shifts away from the work and its value to society and toward earning potential, increased social standing, and the appearance of success. With trust technologies it becomes very difficult to stay focused on what is being modeled rather than the model itself.   Trust technologies by nature trigger endorphin rushes with each use – whether a like on Facebook or a pay increase at work.

Further, these emotional tools are limited in scope due to the lack of a generalized language.  Unlike the emotions, human cognition has a written language that enables ideas to flow, build, and aggregate through books, which supports further abstractions such as schools, libraries, and search engines.  But human emotion is subjective.  Unlike objective ideas, there is no effective way to transfer subjective experiences between people.  Humans have a limited ability to ‘read’, ‘feel’, and build upon shared subjective experiences through empathy and subconscious methods such as observational learning.  As a result, emotions currently are objectified into the cognitive written language.  The reader reinterprets these experiences by referencing their past in order to simulate a shared subjective perspective.  This is an incredibly error prone and limited method for emotional intelligence transfer, especially at younger ages or in foreign experiences.  As a result, shared processes and common protocols that aggregate over an entire group is the best way to mitigate and minimize the need to use the fight/flight/freeze response.

Scientific Bias from Unprocessed Trauma

Trying to come up with a more unified approach that incorporates all three modes of experience (sensation, thought, and feeling) isn’t a new idea.  Since the beginning, mankind has dedicated her collective mind, body, and soul to the explanation of reality. Through empirical science, she has listened with her senses. Weighing the alternatives through philosophy, she has pursued the lines of logic in thought. With religious fervor she has selected among these alternatives and projected her emotional convictions. For millennia the three pillars of sensation, thought, and emotion worked together as a team to steer mankind toward a final explanation of reality.

The search has been costly. The equations, philosophies, and myths constructed along the way have gained momentum and taken on a life of their own. The cooperation forged was lost and mankind’s focus shifted from reality to the tools themselves. The tools’ incompatibility triggered a mutiny by science and philosophy against religion and emotional authority.

Philosophy was the first to rebel. In the 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes used thought to search for a kernel of absolute truth. He imagined an evil demon much like the machines described in the blockbuster THE MATRIX that used magic to trick him into sensing and feeling things that did not exist. In his mind he found one refuge. The demon could not fool him into believing he existed if he did not actually exist. His subjective experience of thinking could not be spoofed. His thinking was his and only his to experience even if everything he actually thought about was false. Descartes asserted – “I think, therefore I am.” In these words, philosophy proclaimed thought as the core of reality and itself as the foundation of ultimate truth.

Science employed the senses to counter philosophy’s assertion. Contrary to popular belief, the rise of science during Isaac Newton’s time was not a shift to reason, but a rebellion against it. The age of science revolted against Descartes’ thought games as much as it bucked against the emotional yoke of religion. Through experimentation and observation, science shifted the focus from thought and emotion to the senses. Science proclaimed that it alone could discover the ultimate truth through a foundation of empirical evidence that flowed from the senses.

With its myths gutted of their emotion, and its warnings of eternal damnation losing their hold, the church retreated into orthodoxy and fundamentalism. Religion failed to accept the new reality and reinvent itself. Religion turned to its outmoded beliefs. It reinterpreted its myths in the literal terms of sensation and thought. It attempted to engage science and philosophy on their turf. She reversed two thousand years of progress as mankind defended the constructs of religion. Religion did not evolve to serve man.  Emotions became suppressed.  The prospects of new trust technologies, a distant memory.

Cognitive Bias within TQM

With the rise of the Industrial Age, this evolving trauma biased mankind away from emotional technologies and toward cognitive technologies.  As the total quality management movement emerged in the 1920s, emotion management was ignored and replaced with statistical analysis.  For example, Zero Defects, coined by Mr. Philip Crosby in his book “Absolutes of Quality Management” emerged as a key concept in quality management.  Yet this was a crude amplification of the all-or-nothing thinking that emerges from a fight-flight-freeze response.  It did not take into consideration that most business instances require a balance between costs, quality, and time.

The combination of muted pain from existing trust technologies and cognitive bias due to unprocessed trauma of the scientific age has resulted in weak emotional management in modern QA methodologies such as TQM, BPM, ITIL, and CObit and a lack of development of new trust technologies.  This tradition, which DevOps and SRE evolved from, fundamentally did not understand that one cannot think a feeling or feel a thought.  These approaches attempt to intellectualize a path out of emotional problems without engaging the emotions themselves.  This oversight explains why many legacy IT shops cannot transform, despite massive investment and adoption of AI, Big Data, Cloud, DevOps, and SRE (ABCDs).

Shouting these terms in sales meetings and marketing pitches, only touches the surface emotions.  Changing what a company does, only impacts cognitive aspects of their soul.  For true rebirth corporations need to rip into their emotions and perform a soul-level reformat of their industrial age and informational age thinking into the diamond age feeling, thinking, and sensing.  They must expand the mindset the factory floor from ‘expendable people’ into the tribal experience of a diverse family.  In the new world order, toleration is the norm, pain a valuable commodity, and vulnerability, the trust that bonds the family together.  Only brutal and honest authenticity of limits and abilities as well as being fully present in the moment through thought, feeling, and sensation can awaken these companies into the new reality.

If a company is stuck just thinking about the ABCDs, they are limping forward.  Corporations need both legs of cognition and emotion to walk properly.  This is difficult for many legacy companies to grok.  Raised in the cold industrial age, isolation was encouraged, emotions discarded through judgement and repression, and out-of-the-box thinking was viewed as disobedience and not tolerated.   This supported the self-fulfilling prophesy that workers couldn’t be trusted; fear aggregated development into one slow and too-big-to-fail migration, which always fail, making the prophesy a reality.

Without this unprocessed fear, the changes would remain small, rapid, and recoverable.  But with fear in place, due to distrust, failure inevitably ensues, which reinforces the self-deprecating thinking about the company’s workers.  Leaders trust less and listen less.  Workers take more and more responsibility for things they do not have control of.  The dissidence between the leader’s understanding and the reality in the trenches translates into emotional grumblings of the workers.  Valuable pain collects in the worker’s experience rather than with management, where the power for change resides.  Emotions, much like the idiot lights in a car, are meant to convey information.  But unlike the idiot lights in a car, when emotions are repressed, they tend to take over the perspectives and functioning of the corporation as these repressed emotions act out the corporate emotional shadow.   This manifests as learned helplessness, high turnover, and outright sabotage.

Ironically, SRE found salvation by stepping into the pain, rather than displacing it onto the workers.  Specifically, the path forward is to acknowledge, without self-judgement, the repressed social demons that drive destructive behavior, idle emotional capital, and cage thoughts in defeatist thinking.  Stepping into and feeling these emotions, can enable a company to tolerate differences, utilize (rather than fear) pain, and to find ways, through SRE, to commoditize and use these emotions as currencies within the business flows of Enterprise Management.

Emotional escalation naturally breaks down trust, which reinforces the patriarch hierarchy top down model.  Unfortunately, trust is absolutely necessary in a matriarch worker to worker bottom up model.  This makes SRE a need to have rather than a want to have for the modern AI centric company.

Emotional Tectonics of IT

Just like individuals, a company cannot think their way out of an emotional problem without first experiencing the emotion.  The emotions are the grokking neuro net of the mind, crunching a billion sensory data points both internal and external into a subconscious emotional gist to emphasize urgency or a particular set of choices.  No one can think a feeling or feel a thought.  Yet traditional educational systems spend twenty years focusing entirely on cognitive pursuits and spend no time on emotional awareness and management.  This, more than anything else, explains why SRE often have larger ‘bang for the buck’ than even DevOps.  Both mental and emotional smarts are required to walk a company forward.  When you spend twenty years working out only your right leg, any additional work in that area has limited value while any attention on strengthening the left leg will produce dividends.

So where are emotions used in business?   As any sales person worth their salt will tell you, people’s emotions trigger a decision.  Even the most pragmatic engineer continues researching until they ‘feel’ they have enough information to decide.   This naturally creates two classes of people.  The first burns more cycles building a conscious mental image before emotions tip their decision.  The second taps more readily into their intuitive sense, using the subconscious neuro network that aggregates isolated sensory input and triggers emotional impressions.  The first is better at adapting changes and grounding them into reality.  The latter is better equipped to envision that which hasn’t been created yet.

SRE and DevOps recognizes these tidal emotional forces between these two generalized groups:

  • Subconscious-Centric Yin: Those that create by synthesizing and adapting what already exists.
  • Conscious-Centric Yang: Those that create by initiation and projection of something completely new.

These two dueling perspectives aggregate up the corporate hierarchy to the very top where the COO takes a more pragmatic engineering approach while their CEO counterpart decides based on their emotional gut, intuition, and superstition.  For example, this led to IT budget synchronization on Y2K and the subsequent dotcom bust.  Specifically, the words ‘Y2K Compliant’ added to a project title triggered many superstitious CEOs to approve capital projects, leaving capital budgets depleted for the next couple of years.

This relational meta-pattern permeates human society in a number of areas:

  • Yin vs Yang
  • Democrat vs Republican
  • Feminine Energy vs Masculine Energy
  • Ops vs Dev

SRE is about accepting and respecting both approaches to navigating reality.  By creating common workflows, quantifying emotions, and depersonalizing the issues through trust technologies, SRE enables both techniques to operate simultaneously and aggregate human emotion to larger and larger groups through transferring emotions to traded currencies.


What is seen played out in the world today is significant emotional trauma spanning individual experience to worldwide organization and groups due to the inability to adapt to a more emotionally transparent world.  From the right the pressure is to revert to old ways of behaving and being. From the left there is emotional projection and imposing on others to change their behavior to prevent discomfort.  The solution is to find a path of tolerance while retaining authenticity.

The next part will discuss the emotional mechanics of these trauma, conflicts, and other interactions that escalate into fight-flight-freeze responses.  This includes how all conflict degrades into the drama triangle and how the victim recreates the cycle.  Further, it explains how the grief cycle applies to any approach adjustment.  Finally, it explores how the empath-narcissism dynamic plays out in managerial relationships.

The third and final part will provide examples of SRE practices and demonstrate how SRE disperses emotional anti patterns.  It will describe how SRE converts emotional currents into traded currencies as well as discusses new challenges that emerge when emotional responsibility of the individual is transferred to a currency.

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