Friday, December 30, 2011

CMMI Goals for a Prosperous New Year

Mr. CMMI Appraiser, I am the leader of a mid-sized engineering firm, and 2011 was our best year ever. But as I said to the team, let’s make sure 2011 isn’t our best year we ever had. We need to get the next level of CMMI certification, CMMI Maturity Level 3. What advice would you give us? ~ Wilson C.

Wilson, thank you for your note. First, Mrs. CMMI Appraiser and I would like to lift our glasses to wish you and yours a very happy New Year and a prosperous CMMI program.

Happy New Year!

And cheers to your team, Wilson, for striving to get better for 2012. But you make me nervous with this “next level of CMMI certification” business. IMHO, focusing certification isn't quite the right goal.  Do you really want my honest advice?  I'll try not to hurt you :)

Just resolve to be a great company.  The certification will follow....I promise!

See, without the right goals and objectives, companies just can’t do the right thing. And when they can’t do the right thing, they keep doing the wrong thing. That’s why you hear the same New Year’s resolutions every year:

  1. I Resolve to Deliver Projects On-time
  2. I Resolve to Keep Projects On Budget
  3. I Resolve to Make Clients Less Unhappy
  4. I Resolve to Have Fewer Meetings
  5. I Resolve to Better Understand Risk
What’s wrong with this list? The company is focusing on what they want (the destination), and not the most important thing: what it will take to get there (the journey).

Like Calvin in the comic above, some executives are outraged at the suggestion that they need to change.

You may be perfect, just the way you are ... but maybe your focus just needs to change.

By focusing on CMMI Maturity Level 2 and 3, or CMMI certification, Wilson, nothing changes.  You are focusing on the destination. And it's not the destination you want to get to.  You're hoping for a first-class trip to Maui in December, but you'll end up with a bus trip to Neward in July.  That’s not the best way to be prosperous in the year ahead (but I'll give you a call from Maui, it's NICE here!).

By focusing on the journey, you are always learning how to make your company better. Prosperity is sure to follow.

So let's all change our ways together.  In our quest to be a better company in 2012, here are some questions to ask that will speed the learning process:

1. Where should I use the information I’ve garnered from measuring?

2.  What have I gained from having standardized processes

3.  What have I gained from  having process choices for my engineers in 2011?

4.  How can I to use that information to increase performance and organizational maturity in 2012?

Life is a journey. Set the right goals and objectives, and keep asking the right questions. With learning as your goal, you’ll stay on the path to greatness.

And THAT'S a New Year's resolution you can keep!

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 for more information about running a successful CMMI program.


Roberto Slomka said...

Hi Jeff, thanks for your terrific blog and your priceless contributions at CMMI Process Improvement group. I'm always trying to absorbe your wisdom and get our work be better done. Nice 2012 for you and your family. Greetings from Bahia/Brazil.

Jeff Dalton said...


Thank you my friend! Have a happy and prosperous New Year!