Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hark, the CMMI Angels Sing!

Rejoice! Rejoice! All across the land of CMMI, the day is finally here!

If you’ve been partying with us at Ask the CMMI Appraiser’s 12 Days of CMMI, you know all we wanted for Christmas was a successful CMMI program. Well, guess what?

WE GOT IT! Woo-hoo!

We know we never could have had a successful CMMI program without the wonderful Generic Practices (GPs), which every software and engineering executive needs to own to have any hope of experiencing continuous process and performance improvement. The GPs guided our every sure step.

Wow, what a day! The former CMMI consultant got a pair of footie pajamas. The CMMI sponsor got a new process tool-belt, and the CEO got a cute puppy to love on. And the CMMI Appraiser?

Check it out! Mrs. CMMI Appraiser gave me this cool vintage CMMI guitar.

So, what do you say, my revelers? The CMMI Christmas Carolers go electric! Let’s hit it one more time!

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my boss she gave to me:

twelve new improvements,
eleven process flowcharts,
ten process levers,
nine months adhering,
eight measures captured,
seven roles connected,
six storage systems,
four new assignments,
three new compliers,
two process plans,
and a box with a shiny policy.” 

Generic Practice 3.2 - Collect Process Related Experiences

GP 3.2 guides us to collect process related experiences – or ways of “doing it better” next time.

This is the last Generic Practice, and it is my all-time favorite. It’s another pivotal practice, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving, all year, every year.

GP 3.2 is about making the process better, based on data and experience.

What is the “experience” of the project? This is the lesson we learned from implementing the process.

Like at Santa’s Workshop. As we said yesterday, nearly all of Santa’s elves are left-handed. But not all; some are righties. Santa found out early on that it does little good to design processes for all left-handed elves. Here’s how he figured it out:

One day, while attempting to weld a bicycle frame and earnestly trying to utilize the process as it was written, a right-handed elf took a blowtorch in his left hand. He accidentally burned the Workshop down. Though the elves escaped from harm, three snowmen tragically melted.

Santa decided his process created too many errors. He wanted to fix it to allow elves use the blowtorch on either side. Now his new write-up of the process says, “Place blowtorch on the left side or the right side, depending on your welding style. And for God’s sake, do not operate around snowmen!”

Same holds true in our organizations. Without GP 3.2, companies would keep running the project the same way they ran every project. Or, more commonly, your people would find that the process did not work, and just avoid or ignore the process, and do it any old way they wanted to.

Remember, we’re not building a product. We’re building a process, and that process has an architecture.  Like a product. . . but not.  Well maybe yes.

This might be a tall order, given all the egg-nog we’ve consumed these last 12 days, but we’ve got to wrap our head around the idea that we are not creating some process flowchart. We are creating a product that our company is going to use, and the essence of that product is that it is the architecture in which we do our work.

If I can leave you with one thought that will carry you through the new year, it is this: The Generic Practices represent the things that have to happen to make the architecture possible. These things are strategic in nature. As such, they are under YOUR control as management of the company.

GPs enable the Specific Practices (SPs) to be successful.

GP 3.2 calls on YOU to learn this lesson. Have your teams collect information at the end of projects, at the end of phases and the end of durations (or sprints), that help you improve. Once this information has been collected, GP 3.2 allows you to actually do something with it. Hold a retrospective that really gets this good information and feeds back into the process. Tell the team, “We can do this better next time, and here’s how.”

That’s it, my friends. Though our party is ending, remember that the CMMI is an ongoing celebration, a model for being joyful in the quest for becoming a great company. And GPs guide the way.

Have a happy New Year, and rock on!

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.

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