Saturday, December 10, 2011

Won’t You Guide My CMMI Plan Tonight?

Well, the egg-nog has been flowing for 4 days in a row, and your previous CMMI Consultant is napping in the bathtup (his loss!), but the rest of us are still going strong. So let’s keep celebrating the 12 Days of CMMI!

As you know if you’ve been following our merry band of Christmas carolers on 
Ask the CMMI Appraiser" lately, the “12 Days of CMMI” started when an executive wrote in that all he wants for Christmas is a successful CMMI program.

I knew I could help him out, sure, but I didn't want to deprive him the real joy of the season, which is the opportunity to help his company with techniques that make them a great company, using CMMI as one of their tools.  In other words, the journey is far more important than the destination, so why stiff the guy?  He's been good this year and he deserves a shiny new toy.

“You know?” said Mrs. Appraiser as she warmed up my cocoa, “What this nice young man REALLY needs is the gift of the 12 Generic Practices - screw the pear tree!”

The Generic Practices (GPs) are what I consider the most important part of the CMMI and I wish they were called the "Very Important Practices" instead of the "generic practices."  Who would care?  Why are GPs so important? Because poor implementation of the GPs will ALWAYS lead to spectacular failure.

Remember process debt, filling out painful forms, nasty QA audits, and useless process? You can avoid them with the GPs.

Given that there are 12 of them, and given that Mrs. Appraiser makes a mean egg-nog, well, I started singing "The 12 Days of CMMI" to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and dancing around in my red Santa Suit (the missus really likes me in that).

OK, maybe that's too much information.

So fill your mug, fill your heart, and fill-in for that passed-out consultant by joining us in song:

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

four new assignments,
three new compliers,
two process work-plans,
and a box with a shiny policy.”

Generic Practice 2.4 – Assign Responsibility

The fourth GP guides us to assign responsibility and authority for performing the process, developing the work products, and providing the services of the process.  Services?  huh?  It's OK, Hang in there.

Example, you say? Sure, let’s go back to Santa’s Workshop.

The fourth GP informs Santa that it is critical to assign responsibility for the elf-engineers to execute the processes associated with building toys for all the good boys and girls of the world.  Without that the little girl elfs would be maiking footballs and .... oh wait.  Stop.  Reverse that.  

Who leads a JAD workshop?  Who performs estimates?  An elf has GOT know!

Santa calmly spells it all out ahead of time. He says, “Elf-John is responsible for making baseball gloves, and Elf-Sarah is responsible for making aprons (I never said Santa was politically correct!),” and so on and so forth … assigning the elf that he expects to perform each process.  Expects?  Hmmm, sounds like GP2.1 to me.

If he didn’t do that, none of the elves would really know what they were supposed to do, and what they were responsible for. Elf-John would build a puppy that meowed.  Elf-Sarah would build a set of legos that repelled each other.  Defects would abound in Christmastown! oh noooooooo!  Think of all the crying children and angry parents!  IT WOULD BE THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS!

Some of you might be saying, “Such is life! Herding elves is what management is all about.”

I say otherwise.  I say it is a waste of time when I see management sending out an email to the entire team saying, “I want everybody to do this.” Then they wonder why nobody does it.

My favorite is: "Quality is everyone's job" or the even better: "you have to build quality into everything you do!"  What the *#$% does that mean?

That won’t fly in Santa’s Workshop.

Here's what will fly.  Focus on the fact that the CMMI is about the transformation of the culture of your company. It’s about improving and changing the way your company behaves, so that you build toys that are better than other workshops that are building similar, but inferior, toys.

Assign responsibility and authority, and you will be guiding your company like a sleigh through the night.  

After sampling Mrs. Appraiser's egg-nog, you've certainly got the right color nose for it.

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

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Appraiser Observer, 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.

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