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.

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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.

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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, 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.

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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.

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.

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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!

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.]

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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!

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.

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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!

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.


SPaMCast Interview: Are success and failure attributable to methodology or leadership?

Jeff, I have been recently asking people whether or not leadership is important to change. Is it true that failure really doesn’t have anything to do with Agile, non-Agile, RUP per se, it’s a leadership failure? ~ 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, that’s a fantastic point and this is something I try to talk about in the speeches that I give. This entire discussion … Agile versus Waterfall versus RUP versus chaos … is missing the point. There are attributes of strong leadership and well-run organizations -- as well as weak leadership and poorly run organizations -- that exist regardless of what methodology we choose.

I remember giving a partner speech with one of the main participants of the Agile manifesto. I won’t name him here but he started out by saying, “Agile is better than Waterfall because Agile projects are always on time and customers are happy.”

You know, that’s a pretty interesting statement. I ran lots of great projects in the 80s and 90s, where my customer were happy and the project was on time and on budget. So what really strikes me is that the thing that makes Agile so powerful isn’t the frameworks or the methodologies that are out there today. Because SAFe, Scrum, DAD and XP are all fantastic ideas. I fully support them, and think my customers should use them. But it’s the values part that nobody is really talking about.

Back when I was running software teams in the 80s and 90s, I tried very hard to be transparent, collaborative, high trust, and to fail fast. If you remember rapid application development, I was a big proponent. Sure, we didn’t have Scrum back then. We didn’t have XP, and those things are great. But it's the values, and leading through the demonstration of values, that really gets you the bang for the buck as an organization.

I tell my clients, “You know what, if Waterfall makes sense to you and it makes sense for your business, you should do that. Just make sure the values are in place. Make sure you have high trust, fail fast, collaboration, transparency and visibility, etc.” 

Back the 80s, we had big posters of our plans and our requirements on the wall. I remember I used to put a thermometer up there, so people would always know, “Here’s what’s going on.”

Going back to 1994, I was leading a team that wrote the point-of-sale system for Sears. We wrote the world’s first touch screen system, Windows 1.0. I won’t get even to that nightmare, but one of the things we did is we had calendar on the wall. It was a tear-off calendar so every day we tore it off, and that was an indication that our deadline was coming up. We used to do these types of things. This was before Agile, was you know Agile with a capital A.

The point is that the differentiator for leaders is not the methods you use. It's not Agile, Waterfall, RUP, etc. It’s values. If you look back at who the great leaders were in your career, you’ll probably think of people who demonstrated values that are consistent with the nine core Agile values, some which I’ve listed. Values are what really matter. Those are the things leaders work with and focus on trying to strengthen, because without values, nothing’s going to 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.

Friday, September 1, 2017

SPaMCast Interview: What has to happen to get an organization to change?

Jeff, if we turn to leadership to make changes in an organization, what has to happen to actually get an organization to change? ~ 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,

That’s such a great question because in the industry that we’re in, there’s a lot of model-based change management going on. Whether it’s SAFe or CMMI or ITIL, or even DAD or Scrum, a lot of executives are saying, “Let’s take a look at these models, and let’s tell our people to implement these models. Therefore, we shall be the change that we believe in.”

I’m sorry, but that’s been a failure. Of all the models that have been developed, I think the models developed in the Agile space have been the most successful. I have great, great admiration for the people that put those together, but they’ve all failed to make change happen.

In the software business, there’s a defect known as “type mismatch.” A type mismatch is when one data type tries to communicate with another data type and it blows up most programs. For instance, an integer tries to talk to a string inside of an application, and this creates a type mismatch.

Leaders are causing an organizational type mismatch by forcing Agile teams to use these models instead of seeking to understand and care about – not change – the way Agile teams do their work, and the values they uphold. We’ve got some fantastic things going on at the project level: Teams are being transparent. They are being Agile. They are collaborating. They are working very hard to live and breathe Agile values. Some have been almost militant about upholding Agile values.

But leadership is often completely oblivious to this! Especially in the government sector. They are asking for detailed, long-term project plans, Basis of Estimates that go out five years, and they’re asking requirements to be clearly defined in a 900-page stream of consciousness work product that nobody reads.

The problem is, they are treating their people in a very non-Agile, non-transparent, non-collaborative, low-trust way. They’re beating their people up like they always have.

It’s clear that these frameworks have not changed that behavior. Instead, I believe they need to focus on a framework that aligns Agile values with the Agile ceremonies that Agile teams are using, so that they can be understood and made better. Without this type of approach, management is trying to push a rope uphill.

You work in this business too, Tom. You know you can have the most beautiful Scrum team on the planet, a work of art. We used to say that back in my Ernst & Young days: “We’ve produced a work of art, but nobody noticed!”

When nobody notices, and management isn’t on board, we really have this type mismatch, which creates a lot of friction and unhappiness in the organization. It mostly affects credibility and productivity of the teams.

I believe that if we can conquer this leadership issue in the Agile space, we can take it to a whole new level that’s no one even anticipated.

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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!

Here's how 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, August 31, 2017

What is the value of an agile organization adopting the CMMI?

Hey CMMI Appraiser – Our software engineering organization is the only one in our company that uses agile. But now we’re being asked to adopt the CMMI. Other than satisfying a customer requirement, is there any value for an agile organization to have a SCAMPI appraisal? ~ Jason A.

Hey, Jason,

For an organization like yours that cares about agile, another way of phrasing your question might be: “How do we maintain and scale our agile approach, while having the resilience to withstand the intense pressure to change as we get larger?”



Because THAT’S the value of an agile organization having a SCAMPI appraisal. Adopting the CMMI allows you to strengthen and scale agile, and make agile resilient to outside forces that would try to force you to change.

You may not have heard this before, but agile and the CMMI are 100% compatible. In fact, CMMI is an important tool for helping agile scale. So the real value of having a SCAMPI appraisal is that it’s a great way to test the strength and resiliency of your agile values, methods and techniques.

I would recommend that agile organizations adopt CMMI, even if your customers weren’t requiring it.  But you have to do it right.

As far as the market, you are correct that most software organizations at defense industry contractors are not agile. Some agile adoption is taking place,  with some experimentation at the small team level. But most have not embraced an agile approach to software development, and I’d say a big reason has to do with their customers.

True, we have seen the federal government show some interest in agile, but it is still a long way from true agile adoption - especially when it comes to agile values like “high-trust,” “collaboration,” and “fail-fast.” As a result, we’ve seen some contractors adopting ceremonies from frameworks like Scrum and XP, but they are more “Scrum-But” than Scrum.

I'ts not the adoption of ceremonies or techniques that makes you agile. It’s whether or not the business has embraced agile values.

Adopting the CMMI will help you find clarity in this regard. During your SCAMPI appraisal, your Lead Appraisal Team will be asking questions that will help define agility in your organization, including:

Are you really agile? What are your values?  How does the team demonstrate them?  Who attends sprint demos?  Your Lead Appraiser will be looking to find out if you're doing it well - or if you're Agile in name only.

Agile is something that you are. It’s a philosophy; it’s a way of thinking; it’s a way of life. To be agile is to adopt agile values, the values of collaboration of personal responsibility, of having the right team members, of failing fast, and the other agile values from the Agile Manifesto.

By contrast, the CMMI is not something you are. The CMMI is something you use to strengthen what you are. In the context of agile, the CMMI helps you strengthen what you are by helping you build a resilient framework. And by embracing lessons of CMMI with agile (or Waterfall or Spiral – or whatever your methodology of choice is) you move closer to being a better company.

So it’s a good thing your customers are asking you to adopt CMMI. Take it as an opportunity to align your agile organization with greatness.

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 running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

SPaMCast Interview: Leading great organizations

Jeff, how do you define great 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,

Earlier in my career, I spent about a decade at Ernst and Young. If you work for a firm like that, you are always interested in becoming a partner, and I remember going through some interviews to become a partner. I was at the very final stages in that process, and some of the senior partners asked me, “What do you think it takes to lead great organizations?”

I spoke at some length about inspiration, leading people, getting the best out of people, putting people in a situation where they are empowered to do the right thing, without you hovering over them, giving them tasks and measuring them every minute. I could tell at the end of my answer that, if I hadn’t failed the interview, I had come close to it! Because what they were apparently looking for was P&L, metrics, cash flow, etc. Of course, these things are very important.

They asked, “What do you think is the number one thing to make leadership successful?”

I said, “You can increase profitability and customer satisfaction more by leading people to lead themselves, than you can by making sure utilization is as high as it can be.”

I really believe that. I think leadership is less about accounting numbers and managing the administration and the bureaucracy than it is about motivating people so that they don’t need leadership as much.

As you know, I’m very interested in self-organization, and a lot of the methods that are out there. I see this every day with some of the clients that I've worked with: Their leadership isn’t leading. They are some great managers, some great administrators, and some great people that are doing great things with financials far beyond anything that I’m capable of, but in terms of actually leading people so that they don’t need day-to-day leadership? There is very little of that going on. That’s something that I’m the most passionate about.

#     #     #

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.

And if you're 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!

Here's how 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 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.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Where do you get the inspiration to successfully lead agile teams?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – we came across your blog while searching for practical information on how to become more agile, and how to maintain our agility. Where can I get some inspiration for leading teams to embrace all things agile? ~ Zach M.

Hey, Zach – It’s always a pleasure to hear from engineering and software professionals like you who care about agile, engineering strategy and performance innovation.

When searching for inspiration, I turn to Charlie Parker.


Charlie “Bird” Parker was a brilliant, though seriously flawed, pioneer of the American jazz scene. While his personal challenges are well documented, Parker is known as the undisputed master of the idiom, who understood that being great was not simply about being talented. His legacy, regarded by music historians as one of the most powerful in the history of American music, was not an accident. It was arrived at through years of disciplined study, practice, and experimentation, which resulted in the very definition of the art form. But it was not simply about study, nor was it only about a disciplined adherence to structure. Parker knew what so many in software engineering still struggle to understand today: that great accomplishments are achieved through mastering and synthesizing all three elements — talent, learning, and discipline.

What really set Bird apart was his ability to master these concepts with extraordinary agility. When he performed, he heard something very different from the music of his predecessors. While standing firmly on the shoulders of the giants who came before him, he created a new, agile style that catapulted jazz into an entirely new dimension. With its short bursts of creativity, rapid real-time adaptations, and incremental, iterative improvisational character, this style — which came to be known as “be-bop” — would be better described as real-time composition.

Unlike the music that preceded Parker’s 1939 debut, his was incremental and iterative in three dimensions:

The first was internal to the skills of any accomplished musician, who learns to hear the sound in the split-second it takes for it to escape his or her instrument, and then incrementally inspects and adapts the tone, inflection, and pitch — sometimes before the sound wave has even reached the audience.

The second dimension was the real-time collaboration among and between the members of his group: between saxophone and piano, between drums and bass, between piano and guitar, and a continuous build of those collaborations across the ensemble. The magic of be-bop is in the real-time composition created when a group of accomplished players collaborate as a team, fail fast, and deliver the minimum viable product throughout the course of the composition.

Finally, Bird would collaborate with his audience — reading their reaction, inspecting and adapting, and recalibrating his compositions to meet the desires of his fans.

If it sounds as though I’m saying that agile methods have been around a lot longer than Scrum, XP, and the spiral model, I am. While I have immense respect for the authors of the Agile Manifesto, they were 60 years behind Bird.

The lessons from Charlie Parker are as relevant to agile teams today as they were to musicians in the 1940s — most software organizations still struggle with the synthesis of talent, learning, and discipline. It’s not for lack of trying. The landscape is littered with models, techniques, and tools in search of software’s perfect chord, yet we continue to struggle with the processes required to improve productivity and increase the predictability and stability of software projects.

Here's a way to learn more - quickly and easily!

The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit on September 22, 2017 in Washington, D.C. offers a solution to this problem, by presenting a first: A framework for adopting, transforming, and mastering Agility.

At the Summit, you’ll experience a live jazz performance that demonstrates agility, iteration, and excellence right before your eyes. To deepen your learning experience, there will be two fantastic keynotes by industry leaders, and six entertaining vignettes on Agile leadership, craftsmanship, and teaming. Lunch will be served, and you’ll have opportunities to network with other Agile leaders.

Inspired yet? Then join us at the Agile Leadership Summit! You’ll learn from your peers about how to take agile leadership, and your organization, to the next level of agile performance.

More information is available at agilecxo.org.

Portions of this article originally appeared in the Cutter IT Journal.

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, ScrumMaster, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff pioneered agileCMMI, the leading methodology for incremental and iterative process improvement. He 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.

To download eBooks about CMMI, including the complete “CMMU Users Stories,” visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

How do we satisfy our State Government client who is asking us to “be more agile?”

Hey CMMI Appraiser,

We are working with the CIO of our State Agency, who is a big believer in organizational performance improvement and is always pushing us to be better. He just came back from NASCIO and heard that vendors need to start being "agile." Our team is smart and talented. We do daily meetings, collaborate, and meet with our customer all the time. Isn't this ok?  If not this, what is agile? ~ S.T 

Hey, ST,



Thank you for writing in.  Different people mean different things when they say they want to be agile. Let's dive into this.

When people say, "be more agile," sometime they mean, "deliver faster and cheaper." And when (too many) software engineers and developers think about "being more agile," they sometimes think it means, “no oversight or documentation!”

What does it ACTUALLY mean? Agility’s greatest strength, and the reason for its extraordinary success, is an intense focus on learning and adapting. Your customer probably wants you to keep learning and adapting your service to meet his evolving needs.

For you to be agile, then, you need to approach Agile as a student.

OK – now what?

In order to study and learn the discipline of agility, it helps to think of the approach as a three-tiered architecture of Agile Values, Agile Methods and Agile Techniques.

1. Agile Values

This tier defines the values that we agree to embrace. Our values are the things that are most important to us. These are the things that your organization needs to stay focused on, and your customer wants you to stay focused on.

Some of these agile values are transparency, collaboration, hiring the right people, fail-fast, inspect and adapt, share the work, and others.  The most commonly discussed values can be found at http://agilemanifesto.org/.

Side note: recently when I presented about Agile Values at a conference, a skeptical manager approached me and insisted that traditional Waterfall-style projects can easily have these same values.

I said, “That’s true. And guess what? When they do, they just called well-run projects!”  These values are universal. Unfortunately, "waterfall" methods and techniques don't always align well, or "trace," to the values.  So that's why we have . . .

2. Agile Methods

The second tier in the Agile architecture defines the WAY we do work - sequence, events, and ceremonies - and that WAY is derived from the values in Tier 1. All of the methods selected should adhere to the values. We call this having "values traceability."

Clients who work with Broadsword often hear me talk about "the WAY." Your "way" is derived from the values and methods use choose to select and embrace

Methods describe the sequence, interfaces, style, and the workflow of much of what we do. In this context, I use the words "method" or "framework" while I'm working with our clients. I think of them as synonymous.

In an Agile environment, the most common methods (frameworks) are Scrum, Extreme Programming, Spiral and Crystal, with the first two being the most prevalent.

For example, Scrum defines ceremonies, artifacts, and roles, and presents a basic sequence  (sprints, et al) for us to deliver our service or product in the context of values.

3. Agile Techniques

Techniques are the things we do every day, within the selected method, in adherence with the values. There are some techniques that are unique to methods, and some that span the entire family of Agile frameworks.

Techniques normally associated with Agile methods include:

  • retrospectives
  • Backlog grooming ("story time")
  • User Story development
  • Story Point estimation
  • Planning Poker
  • Fibonacci estimation
  • Sprint Review (Demo) 
  • Refactoring
  • Test Driven Development
  • BDD
  • Spring / Iteration Planning

Being the third tier of an integrated architecture, a technique alone, without the corresponding methods and values (such as "we do a daily meeting") does not make you "agile," although it's better than NOT meeting everyday.

As I said above, you need to approach Agile as a student.

If you want to become a student, join us on November 7th @ 8:30 am – November 8th @ 4:00 pm (2 days). Here’s the link: 


Hope to see you in 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 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 running a successful CMMI program.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Discount code -- $400 off! -- for Agile Dev East Conference

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, I saw a Tweet that you'll be speaking at the Agile Dev East conference. What topic will you be addressing? ~ John B.

Hey, John - thank you for following me on Twitter!


Yes, I'll be presenting at the Better Software Agile Dev East Conference, which takes place in Orlando in November.  My topic is agile leadership, and I’ll be introducing folks to a new model for evaluating high performing teams, the Agile Performance Holarchy. The Agile Performance Holarchy is a late-binding, soft-coded performance model for adopting, transforming and mastering agility within your software or technology organization.  With the Agile Performance Holarchy, current and future leaders now have an object-oriented model for building and assessing agile capability.

I’ve assessed hundreds of agile teams over the last 15 years, and I’ve learned that there are two impediments that exist to successful and scaleable agile adoption. It’s not that we need a new method. We don’t need to turn Agile into Waterfall.  And we certainly don’t need lower trust or more command and control.

What we need is for leadership to understand, embrace and project agile values, and how they trace to the ceremonies and techniques that we’re using. And we need teams to execute those ceremonies with discipline and integrity.

The Agile Performance Holarchy is a clear definition of great agile for leaders and teams alike, and it provides a sustainable path to agile capability, while preserving the value of high trust and empirical process control.

I hope you can stop by the session, John, and learn about verifiable agile performance.  For those who haven't registered yet, here's the link: Agile Dev East Conference.

Feel free to use my code (BE17JD25) and get $400 off!

It will be my pleasure to see you there.

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.

Friday, August 11, 2017

When is the best time to adopt CMMI?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser --  Our company just performed a self-assessment, and we are looking at CMMI as a way to push process improvement across our entire organization.  What are some of the factors we should consider as far as timing ... i.e., when is the best time to adopt the CMMI? ~ Brian G.

First of all, Brian, congratulations on completing a self-assessment.  That's the first step to improving you company, your products, and the satisfaction of your customers.  You are on your way!

For a lot of organizations, the best time to look at adopting the CMMI is when you identify the need to change behaviors and establish an environment for operating like a great company – for the long term.  For example:



If you are having trouble with estimates, CMMI can help make your estimates better.

If you are having trouble with late projects, CMMI can help improve predictability.

If your bosses are micromanaging you, CMMI can give them more information to help them understand what is going on with projects.

If you have a lot of tedious rework, CMMI can help avoid that by bringing clarity and validation to the process by making sure the requirements are right when you get them.

If you have unhappy customers, CMMI can help put a framework in place that helps you manage their expectations.

If you experience a lot of chaos in your business, CMMI can help you bring stability to that as well.

If you are interested in defining the Way you do business as a group, the CMMI can help you define your Way and be the great company that you are.

So what should you do next? 

I recommend learning everything you need to know about CMMI as a large collection of lessons learned and best practices.  You can get this information for free on our next webinar, "CMMI: Everything You NEED to Know," on Friday, August 18th at 2PM.


After watching the webinar, you'll be that much closer to getting started with CMMI. Please check back if we can offer further assistance.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you on the webinar!

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.