Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Are retrospectives really necessary for piloting processes?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – we are a parts manufacturing company in Virginia that is working toward a CMMI Appraisal. As CEO, I need to make sure that we are using our resources wisely. Are retrospectives really necessary when piloting processes, or can we skip it? ~ John L. 

Hey, John – great question! Let me pass it along to Laura Adkins, a Senior CMMI Consultant with Broadsword, who does amazing work with companies who are trying to evaluate the validation process as it pertains to the CMMI.  Laura will take good care of you. ~ The CMMI Appraiser

Thanks, CMMI Appraiser!

John, we work with companies using the CMMI as framework for improving processes as complex as designing rockets and as simple as creating reports. In all cases, we encourage them to test their processes and analyze their validation results with, among other things, a retrospective for improvement.  The retrospective is not something you should skip.

In the retrospective, all results should be identified. Examine the data, and decide if the results went as well as you thought. If they did, why did they? If not, why not?

The risk of not doing the retrospective is that you will miss what people are thinking.  Like any relationship, this may alienate them. And you will certainly miss seeing what they see. As a result, you will find that things you thought were safe assumptions weren’t so. The process may fail, and you have to do more rework in the long run, which can destroy profitability.

Retrospectives have an important place in pilot testing. Without the retrospective, companies would keep running the process the same way forever, and never see improvement. 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.

Don’t skip the retrospective!

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

Laura Adkins is a Senior CMMI Consultant with Broadsword Solutions Corporation. She has years of real world experience using pilot testing strategies and tactics to help her clients achieve their goals. Laura also uses the CMMI, in partnership with her clients, to set-up, monitor, and sustain process improvement programs.

Visit for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

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