Where there was so much unplanned work coming into the team, you were just spending your days responding to people asking you for things?
One company I worked at felt very much like this, and the origins were due to a complex set of factors (team restructures, leadership leaving etc) but the end result was a team of devops engineers spending all their days responding to requests for help. There was no time to make any improvements that would reduce this work, and most people by that point were stuck in the grind of responding to jira/slack requests.
How do we break out of this? Well at that company, the devops team rebranded to a platform team! A platform team provides internal services (through infrastructure, tools, wikis or other resources) that enable software development teams to build and deploy software more efficiently and effectively. Because that would help right, having a team that builds self-service products and platforms? Ideally it would reduce the amount of support requests coming in. But the problem here was building a platform team is a long term commitment. We also weren’t sure what exact services this platform would provide, or what people wanted. And who was going to build this platform if everyone was spending all day responding to tickets?
The other common response I see teams having is a knee-jerk response, and over-investing in tech solutions that they think will help…but they actually haven’t validated or tested this. Oh if we implement this tool, that will mean everyone can see that information for themselves and they won’t ask us! So you implement the tool…and don’t see any reduction in people asking you for help. Or sometimes help requests actually increase, because people are confused by the new tool!