Tuesday, December 5, 2017

We need CMMI training FAST. Where can we find it in early 2018?

Dear CMMI Appraiser,

Several of us are going to be on a CMMI Appraisal Team, and we need to get up to speed with CMMI Training FAST, like, yesterday! Where can we get this training? We want something a little more than a "lecture." ~ Lou B.


Lou,

Wow, that’s quite a request! The only way to get to yesterday’s CMMI training class is to climb in to a Delorean.


Don't have one sitting in your driveway? Maybe I can help you get to a class in the future.

The "Introduction to CMMI" course is an excellent course for anyone who is tasked with, or interested in, transforming their organization into a high-performing, lean, and productive team. Beginning with the WHY to use CMMI, then followed by the WHAT you need to do, and finally the HOW to do it, the Intro to CMMI class is a great place to begin for any project manager, engineer, software developer, line manager, analyst, tester, or process or quality professional.

Since you intend to participate in a SCAMPI Appraisal team, CMMI training is required. But while it may be too late to sign up for CMMI training class in 2017, you definitely have options for 2018. 

While you can always take a course at the CMMI Institute, but you might consider taking it from a CMMI Institute Partner, like Broadsword Solutions Corporation (www.broadswordsolutions.com). They'll fill in the gaps with stories, examples, exercises, and case studies as they go. It’s all based on their real-world experience. They even cover CMMI and Agile.

Broadsword just happens to be running one of these "Introduction to CMMI" Training classes February 6-9 in Fairfax, Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC. The first three days of this particular class are focused on CMMI-DEV. Also available is a one-day supplement on CMMI-SVC.

You can register at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/february-6-9-2018-introduction-to-cmmi-dev-training-woptional-svc-supplement-fairfax-va-tickets-38638711426

Good luck - and enjoy your class!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

What Is the SDCA and How Does It Help FCA Suppliers Win More Business?

Dear Jeff, we received a notice from Fiat Chrysler that an SDCA appraisal has been scheduled for us. As a new supplier to FCA, we know they use it to determine whether we will be a long term supplier, and we're excited about the opportunity. What is the SDCA, and how does it help us win more business? ~ Paul A.

Dear Paul,

Great questions! The Supplier Design Capability Appraisal (SDCA) is a engineering performance model that was established to provide an intuitive and flexible framework to be used for evaluating the engineering and project management capabilities of suppliers.


The goal of the SDCA is to determine if a supplier demonstrated high performance their work with Fiat Chrysler. From the suppliers’ perspective, the goal is much larger. The SDCA is a model for improving service and product delivery. By following its guidance, suppliers can put themselves on the path to becoming not just a better company, but a great company that earns the long-term business that FCA is able to provide them.

Here are three ways the SDCA can have a positive impact on your ability to win more business:

Reason #3: Marketing

There is no inherent value in having a high SDCA score. The real value comes from making it your goal to improve and change the way your entire organization behaves, so that you deliver a work product of greater value to the customer. As a by-product, you will be able to demonstrate a higher level of technical and process capability, which will become what you are known for, i.e., your “Way” of doing business, your brand.

Reason #2: Customer Mandates

FCA wants you to be a high performer for reasons that should inspire you to want to be better. They think the SDCA is important because it is important.

You seem to get this, Paul, but some suppliers really don’t yet. They call us and say, “What do I need to do to get a high score?”

I always respond by asking, “Is that really why you are doing this? I understand that you want to stay in your client’s good graces. But the SDCA is so much more valuable and useful than that. Let’s talk about things like how well you are running your operation, how well you are delivering, how happy your customer really is with your service and delivery.”

For anyone who is passionate about improvement, these kinds of questions will get your heart thumping. These are the kinds of things you WANT to be asking, because learning is your goal, not merely getting a high score, and because asking the right questions is what great companies do.

And that brings me to …

Reason #1: To Be a Great Company

I find that more and more organizations understand the value of process improvement and performance innovation. Suppliers are approaching the SDCA as one of the tools that can help them learn how to behave like a great company. And while they know it won’t be easy to do the work necessary to learn the behaviors and transform their culture, they willingly take on the challenge, knowing that the journey can be its own reward.

I appreciate your taking the time to send in your question, Paul. With a little context and creativity, the SDCA is a powerful solution for any supplier that plans, designs, and delivers any type of product or service for the FCA. As long as you focus on setting the right goals and objectives, and asking the right questions, you are going to be a great company, and your business will grow.

Good luck!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit http://my-broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful SDCA program.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, CMMI Style!

Dear friends,

This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for YOU! Your focus on using the CMMI and Agile to pursue organizational excellence has helped transform the industry and raise the standard for everyone.



Thank you for understanding that the CMMI is a journey, not a destination.

Thank you for continually learning to make your company better.

Thank you for setting goals and objectives in your organization.

Thank you for asking the right questions.

Thank you for choosing the CMMI to put your company on the path to greatness.

As a different kind of performance innovation firm, we’re thankful for the chance to help companies like yours use the CMM and Agile to get even better.. So whether you are traveling or staying local this holiday season, we wish you abundant health and happiness in your ongoing quest to be kind of organization you’ve always wanted to be.

From our family to yours - Happy Thanksgiving!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

“Introduction to CMMI-DEV” Class (includes optional CMMI-SVC Supplement)

Dear friends,

As organizations all over North America are starting to look ahead to setting performance improvement goals for 2018, many are considering the advantages of getting CMMI training for their executives and teams.

We'd love for you to join them (and us) for "Intro to CMMI-DEV" with an optional 1-day CMMI-SVC Supplement. See details below. 


Registration is open for the CMMI Institute-authorized “Introduction to CMMI-DEV” class on February 6-8, in Washington, DC, and tickets are in limited supply. The class includes an optional one-day supplement for CMMI-SVC on February 9th. Reserve your seat today!

“Introduction to CMMI-DEV” Class (includes optional CMMI-SVC Supplement)

The CMMI is designed to give you proactive control over Project Management, engineering, and process management, and to provide you with an architecture for improving performance.

Federal and State governments use the CMMI as a tool to evaluate contractors and suppliers, and thousands of companies around the globe use this set of best practices as a model for internal performance improvement.

If your company is conducting a CMMI SCAMPI A Appraisal, this is a required course for Appraisal Team Members.

What will you learn in the CMMI training class?


In the class, you’ll learn how to use the CMMI as a guide to help you …

  • Establish a useful level of control over your processes
  • Improve the speed of software delivery, engineered products, and technology services
  • Change and improve the behaviors within your company needed to deliver high-quality services and products

What’s in it for you?

  • Learn about ways to improve performance and remain agile
  • 21 PDUs towards your PMP certification
  • More than a 30% discount
  • Fun and entertaining learning experience with hands-on games, exercises, and lectures

What do you get to take home?

  • CMMI Institute Authorized training materials
  • Broadsword exclusive training materials
  • A copy of CMMI: Guidelines for Process Integration and Product Improvement
  • CMMI v1.3 quick-reference card
  • CMMI v1.3 Reference Poster
  • Certificate of Completion

In “Introduction to CMMI” you will not only learn, but learn to apply what you’ve learned, so that you always know how things are going and how they can be made better.

Will you join us?


Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Subscribe to my CMMI-TV YouTube channel!

Dear Readers,

Happy Halloween!

As you sit at home this evening, waiting for the trick-or-treaters to appear in their costumes at your door, here's a great way to spend the in-between time .... watching CMMI-TV on your phone!



Subscribe to my mobile-friendly CMMI-TV channel on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/asktheCMMIAppraiser

Enjoy the show, and have fun passing out the Halloween goodies!

ABOUT CMMI-TV: CMMI-TV is a place where we can add value to the engineering and software development community by offering advice on engineering strategy, performance innovation and software process improvement. If you find this useful, please forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CMMI SCAMPI: where do we start?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, 

One of our government customers has been urging us for years to adopt CMMI and do a SCAMPI A Appraisal.  Well, I’m not proud to say we have been putting it off. But now two other customers are saying we have to do this if we want to keep their business. OK, so, we’re ready! Where do we start? ~ Ryan S.


Ryan, one place to start would be to thank your customers for pushing you to be a great company. It sounds like they are trying to get you to do the things you’ve known you should do anyway. I suppose it's human nature to put up resistance at first. I notice the same dynamic with my personal fitness trainer – except your customer is paying you!



The personal trainer is a pretty good analogy. In many ways, the journey to adopting the CMMI is similar to the journey to becoming physically fit. Companies that choose to work with Broadsword go through a detailed progression on their way to CMMI Maturity Level 3, for instance, and put themselves on the path to becoming a great company.

There's an old adage that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. To keep you moving in the right direction, here are the first five steps:

Step 1: Class C Appraisal (Gap Analysis) is first and foremost a way for your company to find out about itself and how your performance aligns with the CMMI model. It’s also an opportunity for your CMMI Appraiser to learn as much about your company as they can, and for your company to learn about the CMMI Appraiser. This is important because you will be spending a lot of time together, generally a year or two, making decisions that will have an serious impact on the behaviors of your people. And so, helping both sides feel more comfortable with each other is one of the most beneficial aspects of the SCAMPI C.

Step 2: Training – There are a number of training courses that need to take place on your journey to CMMI ML3. First is the Introduction to CMMIhttps://broadswordsolutions.com/products-and-services/training/ training course, followed by training on how to become expert process engineers. We teach you how to execute our AgileCMMI methodology, and how to design and develop processes. Your entire appraisal team goes through the training, plus anyone who plays a key leadership role in the company in terms of how they want the work performed, such as project managers, program leaders and line managers.

Step 3: Tune-up – After the Class C, and often concurrently with the training, we will provide you with a plan that identifies all the tuning up or development of processes that must occur in your company. The plan includes everything you need to do in the context of AgileCMMI, the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to be created, as well as all of the releases and iterations that must take place between now and your SCAMPI B Appraisal.

Step 4: SCAMPI B – After you’ve done the training and the tune up, you are ready for the SCAMPI B Appraisal. The SCAMPI B is an formal appraisal that serves as a tool to give you the information you need to completely understand your current state in relation to the CMMI. It gives you the information you need to determine whether you will succeed in the formal SCAMPI A, as planned.

Step 5: SCAMPI A –After you’ve satisfactorily completed your SCAMPI B, you are ready for a formal SCAMPI A appraisal, and you’ll want do all you can to assure a positive result. If your SCAMPI A is successful, congratulations!

But don’t make the mistake of thinking you've arrived, and can just drop everything you’ve learned. To return to the fitness metaphor, once I’ve achieved my target weight, I don’t want to celebrate by eating a gooey chunk of chocolate cake. Getting in shape and becoming a CMMI Maturity Level 3 doesn’t make you a great company. It just means you are sufficiently equipped with the infrastructure and tools you need to become a great company. Whether or not you make the changes in your company – and make the commitment to long-term health as an organization – is up to you.

If you would like gain a deeper understanding of CMMI, we’ve just announced the dates for our next "Intro to CMMI-DEV" class (February 6-8, 2018), which includes an optional 1-day CMMI-SVC supplement. for CMMI-DEV (February 9, 2018). Join us in the Washington, DC area for a practical, fun, fast-paced and interactive classroom experience! Sign up here.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pavlov’s Dog versus Schrodinger’s Cat

Dear Readers: This week we're lucky enough to have a new guest blogger - please welcome Eve Keller!  Eve is a Project Manager and has been a SCAMPI Appraisal Team Member.  She can be reached for comment or spirited debate at: slipperyshots@gmail.com.


Pavlov’s Dog versus Schrodinger’s Cat

I’m going to completely judge your prior knowledge of my subject matter with one joke: A man walks into a library, and says to the Librarian, “I'm looking for a book that's been recommended to me… It's about Pavlov’s Dogs and Schrodinger’s Cat… Do you know it?” The Librarian answers, “well, that rings a bell, but I'm not sure if it's here or not.”



In the early twentieth century, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov did Nobel prize-winning work on digestion. Pavlov called the dogs' anticipatory salivation "psychic secretion", thus, proving Classical Conditioning. This created an automatic unlearned response. Wouldn’t you love your employees to have an automatic, and positive, unlearned response to systemic process methodology?

Well, we can’t talk about Pavlov without tipping our proverbial hat to B.F. Skinner. Skinner used experiments with mice to demonstrate Operant Conditioning: an association made between a behavior and a consequence. Skinner believed that effective teaching must be based on positive reinforcement which is more effective at changing and establishing behavior than punishment. Even if you really want to punish those that do not adopting CMMI, it won’t help much.
Beyond Pavlov and Skinner, a third type of learning directly affects culture in your organization. Observational learning is also called “vicarious conditioning” because it involves learning by watching others acquire responses through classical or operant conditioning. A new employee discerns your corporate culture and adapts to it by watching peers and leadership.


So, what about that cat? Schrodinger’s thought experiment demonstrated the influence of an observer in quantum mechanics. Will your company succeed with a SCAMPI A Appraisal or not? That must be observed consistently through your PPQA evaluation process. Providing positive reinforcement and modeling of the desired processes will touch each person in your organization. You will develop better people with intrinsic motivation, spreading to others naturally and gain bigger contracts that you can actually sustain.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software leader!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SPaMCast Interview: What would you change that is affecting agile leadership?

Jeff, if you woke up tomorrow morning, and somebody handed you your cup of coffee, a cup of tea, and a magic wand, and said, “You have the power to change any two things affecting leadership in Agile organizations. What would these two things be? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast


[Editor's Note: During the past several weeks, this CMMI Appraiser has been sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world. Today’s blog post is the final installment. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 456.]


Tom, the first thing I would do is I would bestow a complete understanding of the nine core Agile values on all leaders. I'd give them the ability to demonstrate them through the way they acted and the way they performed. That’s the first thing I would do.

The second thing I would do is give those Agile leaders an understanding of self-organization and the counter-intuitive nature of it, and to learn to trust the power of self-organization so that their teams and their organization underneath them can be successful. I would give them that trust of self-organization.

# # #

I hope my readers have enjoyed the transcribed version of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #456. If you are interested in moving up in your organization that happens to be Agile, or are already leading an Agile organization, you are invited to take advantage of the free and open-space resources available at agilecxo.org, including “The Scrum Guide,” which you can use to help yourself understand how discipline can make Agile more powerful, as well as our model for agile leadership, the Agile Performance Holarchy.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

SPaMCast Interview: Is leadership more or less critical in agile organizations?

Jeff, when an organization is embracing Agile, is leadership more or less critical than in an organization embracing some other fundamental model? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[Editor's Note: Over the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 456.]

agile leadership

Tom, Agile leadership is a lot like Agile itself. Agile is iterative, incremental and distributed. In an Agile organization, leadership is iterative, incremental and distributed. 

I have an article slated for publication next month in the Cutter IT Journal on this. I’m calling it the “Pedagogy Principal.” The notion of this article is that Agile leaders need to learn how to teach other Agile leaders, and those Agile Leaders need to teach other Agile leaders. In other words, what’s needed is a cascading leadership effect. The problem with agile organizations today is we are not teaching leaders how to teach other leaders. 

For your listeners, Tom, pedagogy is the science of teaching and teaching others how to teach. Short story: I come from a family of teachers. My brothers, sisters and parents are all teachers, and I was the renegade. I was the only who said, “I do not want to be a teacher.” I do a lot of teaching now. Go figure!

My father, who is 93 years old and is still doing his thing, still refuses to refer to what I do as teaching, because I was the renegade that didn’t get a teaching degree. He always asks me how my “seminars” are going. Let’s say I’m teaching a class at Carnegie Mellon this week. He will say, “How was your seminar Jeff? How did that seminar go?”

So I was brought up in this environment of education. As a result, I really believe that one of the things that we can address and fix with leadership is teaching them how to be teachers. Then they can get better at teaching their leaders, and understand how to cascade leadership down to the lowest levels of the organization by teaching them how to do it. Part of that is demonstration, and part is mentoring and coaching – and a big part is teaching. 

What I’m examining in this article is what kind of framework we can put in place to help leaders be teachers, and teach them how to teach others how to teach. I think that really is the opportunity: Teaching them how to teach other leaders.

# # #

I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #456. We'll be talking more about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

For those interested in a deeper dive into learning about Agile Leadership, please visit agilecxo.org for white papers, infographics, podcasts, lighting lessons and performance models to help software and engineering executives guide their organizations to be more agile, from top to bottom.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!


Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program

Friday, September 29, 2017

SPaMCast Interview: How has adopting Holacracy changed your view on agile leadership?

Jeff, You recently leveraged, within your own firm, things like Holacracy. How has that changed your view on leadership? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast


[Editor's Note: Over the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 456.]

Tom, you and I have talked about our Holacracy journey before. Yes, we are still practicing and getting better at that. It’s a long journey, but one of the things that was really interesting in our embracing of Holacracy has been my realization that it’s so much like an orchestra. So I wasn’t shocked when I realized that we were starting to be successful with it. I said, “This really reminds me of something!” It really reminded me of when I was younger and making my living playing in orchestras. 



There are a lot of similarities. There are very clear role descriptions. People step up to the responsibilities that they have. There's a form of quasi leadership that’s helping you through the process. So many of the concepts in Holacracy are similar to being a professional orchestra musician. It really helped us reinforce the things that I wanted to do with the company, and gave me a language.

When I was introducing a lot of these concepts with my own company, I was having trouble expressing it. I often said to them, "You know, it's like an orchestra. It’s like you’re a section leader, and you’re practicing scales!" And they would all look at me, like, “I get it. Jeff is a little bit eccentric and he’s off on a music binge again.” 

But the cool thing with Holacracy is that it gives me a language that everybody understands. Now when I talk about accountabilities and roles and circles, it's a clear metaphor that makes sense. So I think Holacracy has really helped us establish a language, helped us with the discipline, and helped me get clarity around what I really wanted to do as a firm.

# # #

I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #456. We'll be talking more about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

http://spamcast.libsyn.com/spamcast-456-jeff-dalton-agile-leadership

For those interested in a deeper dive into learning about Agile Leadership, please visit agilecxo.org for white papers, infographics, podcasts and performance models to help software and engineering executives guide their organizations to be more agile, from top to bottom.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!
Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

SPaMCast Interview: How did you develop your philosophy for successful Agile leadership?

Jeff, How has your personal journey informed what you’ve come to believe is important for successful Agile leadership? Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[Editor's Note: Over the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 456.]

Tom. I don’t know if we've ever talked about this, but I started my career as a musician. My first degree was in classical music. I started my career as a classical musician, and for the first ten years after college, I played in orchestras all around the world.


Playing orchestras, I learned a heck of a lot about self-organization. I learned about excellence, practicing, process, procedures, being Agile, using my ear to adjust constantly, and to improve myself iteratively and incrementally. I’ve given a couple of talks on this, about how having classical music training aligns so well with the current movement of organizational excellence.

Being in an orchestra was my first exposure to all of these things that I later came to know as agile values.

When I entered the computer science business, I almost forgot about my experience as a classical musician. I didn’t really make the connection at first, when I was 30 years old, about how these two things were so similar. But as my career progressed, I started to really make these connections and realized that this notion of self-organization and leadership were intertwined, and that iterative, incremental learning needed to be tied with discipline.

This is where I see a lot of Agile organizations missing the boat. They miss tying in with discipline. See, you’ve got this triangle of leadership, self-organization and discipline. These three things need together like a symphony, in a very orchestrated way, in order for a company to really see the all of the benefits of Agile and fly to the next level. The organizations that have this figured out really do experience success beyond what they ever imagined. 

So, Tom, I’ve come to where I am today because of those experiences. Starting out way back in 1980, when I graduated music school, and then when I went back to get a degree in Computer Science, I have been following this path in my career. It led me to become a leader in several software development organizations, and it taught me to focus on values and self-organization and real leadership.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t enjoy focusing on numbers and schedules and some of the more administrative things. I accommodate that by surrounding myself with people that are great at that. I think of myself as the conductor and they are the members of the orchestra that make things happen. I have this orchestral metaphor in my head all the time and I think that has had a lot to do where I ended up today.

#   #   #

I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #456. We'll be talking more about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

For those interested in a deeper dive into learning about Agile Leadership, you are invited to join me and other Agile leaders at The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit, hosted by AgileCxO.org on September 22nd in Washington, DC. I look forward to meeting many of you in person for the first time!

Click here to register for The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

SPaMCast 456 Interview: What Guidelines Do You Recommend for Agile Leaders?

Jeff, If you were stopped on the street tomorrow afternoon by a CXO who said, "Hey, tell me two things that should be in a set of guidelines for someone leading," what would a couple of those be? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[Editor's Note: Over the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 456.]

Tom, I would say the biggest and most important set of guidelines to help people in leadership roles would be around self-organization. I think that’s the mystery that so many leaders are still scratching their heads over: “How do I get performance from a self-organizing team without riding them and without providing egregious oversight?”


That would be one set of guidelines: How to scale self-organization.

You know I’m a big fan of this. We talked about this in the past. There are some models out there that are starting to get some traction at the team level. For leaders, however, things are different.

Quick aside. This notion of leadership and self-organization is really interesting. I’ve noticed that the people that are really advocating pure self-organization are advocating no leadership.

I don’t think “no leadership” is the way to go. I think we need leaders to help manage the empowerment mechanisms. I’m not saying leaders should be granting empowerment because that’s counter-intuitive. However, there’s an infrastructure that has to be put in place to manage empowerment. Leaders need to transform themselves to become empowerment managers, or infrastructure managers, let’s call it. They need to help manage the organization’s values so that they can train their people how to become truly self-organized.

That would be the second major set of guidelines in a model that leaders could really benefit from: How to set strategic goals and strategic direction. 

See, most leaders really struggle with this notion of creating a strategic plan that leads a self-organizing company through the journey of self-organization and transformation, and leads them to strong profits and strong product delivery. They really struggle to understand what a strategic plan looks like for something like that. So it would be helpful to have guidelines around using open space technologies, for instance, to help them really step through strategic planning efforts, and the management of that strategic plan, long-term. 

Those are the two areas that I would focus on, followed very closely by enterprise leadership and craftsmanship. Now, craftsmanship is all the rage these days in Agile circles. In my opinion, this is a fantastic thing that developers at the organic level that have gotten together and decided that craftsmanship is important.

I am completely in support of them doing that. But the only thing I would change is the scope of this idea. Craftsmanship doesn’t begin and end with development. It applies to business analysis. It applies to project management. It applies to all levels of leadership.

There isn’t a movement in leadership, as there should be. That would be the third set of guidelines that I would encourage any leader to focus on.

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I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #456. We'll be talking more about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

For those interested in a deeper dive into learning about Agile Leadership, you are invited to join me and other Agile leaders at The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit, hosted by AgileCxO.org on September 22nd in Washington, DC. I look forward to meeting many of you in person for the first time!


Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Friday, September 15, 2017

SPaMCast 456 Interview: Why haven’t we seen a model for Agile Leaders?

Jeff, with the plethora of leadership books, business books for CIOs – whether that’s paper or online – why haven’t we seen a model for leadership? Why haven’t we seen at least something that says, “Here are the things to think about,” whether it’s a model or a guide post, as you’ve called it? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[NOTE: Over the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 456.]


Tom,

That’s a really good question. I don’t know that I have a definitive answer for why no model exists for leaders, let alone Agile Leaders. You and I have both been leaders, and it seems to me that leaders have been reluctant to embrace anything like that. I don’t think they’ve even asked the industry for something like that. It could be that nobody has come out with a model that illuminates people in the way that they want to be illuminated. So I think there’s an opportunity, especially in the Agile space, for a leadership model or guide post.

Our friends at the Nationwide Insurance are doing some really neat things with this concept, however. They’ve created their 21 agile tea leaves, which they are applying not only to their teams but to their leaders. They’ve really done a nice job of organizing their leaders around this servant leadership idea, and adopting Agile values.

I would say when it comes to scaling Agile to the executive level, Nationwide is a pretty decent model for that. They are really doing some nice work. But again, I don’t think anybody has come out with an industry framework that really excites anybody. There’s room in the market for that.

And by the way, Kevin Fisher, AVP of the Application Development Center of Nationwide, will be one of our keynote speakers at the Agile Leadership Summit on September 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. [See below.]

# # #

I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #456. We'll be talking more about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

For those interested in a deeper dive into learning about Agile Leadership, you are invited to join me and other Agile leaders at The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit, hosted by AgileCxO.org on September 22nd in Washington, DC. I look forward to meeting many of you in person for the first time!

Click here to register for The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

SPaMCast Interview: Why don’t we have more effective Agile leaders?

Jeff, for anyone that’s been in the business for any length of time, we understand that good, solid leadership is important to drive, lead, help facilitate, and make a transformation happen. Why are we still, in many cases, stuck in the “Thou Shalt” mode as a leadership style, in terms of transformation? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[Editor's Note: Over the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 456.]


Tom,

So true. It’s really interesting that things haven’t changed much in this regard. I was talking to client the other day, who said, “You have a really good job, and you get to do this year after year, because companies don’t change.”

It certainly seems as though we are dealing with some of the same issues that we were dealing with 20 years ago.

Why is that? I think part of it is that leaders don’t feel that change matters to them. Or they don’t believe that change applies to them. As a result, they sometimes insulate themselves from getting the help they need to make change happen.

The other component that’s missing from companies – particularly in the Agile space – is a leadership model for executives to refer to and lean on. They could really use something that lays out for them: “Here’s what great leaders focus on.”

I know I never had that. I was the CIO of two different companies, and I never had something that I could open up that read: “Here are the things that great CIOs and CTOs do, and here’s what you focus on. Here are the areas that are important. Here are the areas that you have to improve on.”

For a long time, we've needed a sort of a SAFe or ITIL or CMMI for leadership. But that just has not existed in the market.

So it's a combination of things. Leaders believe that change doesn’t apply to them, and refuse to get the help they need. And the industry hasn't provided a framework to guide leadership and show them, “Here’s what you have to improve on.”

In the absence of this kind of framework for leaders in Agile organizations, there is no one evaluating performance. It’s the wild west out there. And it's time for change.

#     #     #

I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #456. We'll be talking more about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

For those interested in a deeper dive into learning about Agile Leadership, you are invited to join me and other Agile leaders at The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit, hosted by AgileCxO.org on September 22nd in Washington, DC. I look forward to meeting many of you in person for the first time!

Click here to register for The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

For a Mentor-Protégé Program mentor, what resources do you recommend?

CMMI Appraiser – my company is getting involved in the Department of Defense’s Mentor-Protégé Program. What resources do you recommend for a mentor? ~ Jay A.

Congratulations on getting involved in the Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP)! It’s pretty cool that the DoD (along with a dozen or so other federal agencies) is giving opportunities to companies like yours an opportunity to help small businesses learn to get on the path to being a great company, and compete for contract awards. Done right, everybody wins.


Of course, great companies don’t just happen. As mentor, your job is to help them learn how to change the way that they think, so that they can align themselves with success. That’s really what performance innovation and process improvement are all about — changing the culture and changing the way we think.

But change is hard. To be successful, you need a good understanding of the complexity of culture change, and the consulting skills to help them set goals, communicate, solve problems, and help them transform in a positive way.

Some mentors think they need to tell their proteges what they should do. Process improvement is NOT about telling people what they should do. It's helping your protege' company finding out what they're good at, and what they can do even better.  

The biggest impact you can make as a mentor is to help them figure how they are going to DEPLOY process improvement to their community. Because that’s the biggest question they are going to struggle with: “How will we get our people to embrace the process and use it?”

It’s a valid concern. If you look at the many, many process implementations that have failed, you’ll see companies making the same (avoidable) mistake, over and over. They tried to throw a big binder at their employees, or a huge website, and said: “Here’s the process. Thou shalt use it!”

That’s like asking people to eat an elephant in one bite.

There are a lot of ways to deploy process improvement.

The best way for me, over the past dozen years or so, has been to take an iterative and incremental approach similar to Scrum.

Our approach is to use agileCMMI.  It uses agile techniques, such as incremental at iterative delivery, continuous build, collaboration, etc. to deploy process and get people to embrace process. It applies the same techniques we use when writing software. This helps people embrace and adopt it.

Not only does it help your protege take an incremental and iterative approach to design and deployment, it presents everything to developers in a language they understand. Rather than trying to shove them into the process world, which is a world they don’t want to be in, agileCMMI allows the use of UML diagrams and data flow diagram, for example. These are things people are used to using, and will accept.

That makes sense, right? After all, the best process in the world is useless if you can’t get people to embrace it and adopt it. And until they embrace it and adopt it, you don’t even know if the process they developed is even useful!

Whether it takes several weeks or a few months, everything they need will eventually be implemented. Then you’ll see them start to embrace their new behaviors and processes, and use them successfully. They may even start using it in other parts of their business, like sales, marketing, HR and finance. When that happens, you’ll know it has become their “Way” of doing business. They have learned how to get on the path to being a great company.

As a mentor, what could be more rewarding?

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.