Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How do I get a critical mass of people to adopt the CMMI?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, I’m the CEO of a 90-person mobile products company in Fairfax, Virginia serving the health care sector.  We chose to achieve CMMI Level 2 recently, not because our clients required it, but because we value continuous improvement and innovation.  From reading past Ask the CMMI Appraiser, posts, I get that I need a critical mass of people to adopt the model and institutionalize it – but how do I make that happen? ~ Steve P.

Steve, it’s great that you value operational innovation so much that you’ve adopted the CMMI even though no customers are requiring that you do so.  The CMMIAppraiser hears from a lot of companies like yours who are passionate about making this change.  One of the leading experts on this topic is Julie Calfin, a Senior CMMI Consultant with Broadsword.  Julie does amazing work with companies that are undergoing large scale business transformation. Take it away, Julie! ~ The CMMI Appraiser

Thank you, CMMI Appraiser!

Steve, providing the leadership to get a critical mass of people to adopt the CMMI – or any evidence-based improvement model – is a key piece of your Organizational Change Management Strategy.  But you don’t have to do it all yourself.  In fact, you can’t do it all yourself.  You need change leaders at all levels of the organization to make change happen. 

In an earlier post about business transformation, we talked about the steps involved in moving up the Commitment Curve to institutionalization.  It takes a special group of people to make that happen.  We call them change leaders.

Some change leaders are executives.  Some are middle managers or team leaders, and some are the current “heroes” who have respect in the organization.  Title doesn’t matter.  These are the go-to people on your team.  The ones that everybody relies upon to deliver under pressure.

How do you identify Change Leaders?  I recommend performing a stakeholder analysis.

First, sit down and identify all the people who will be impacted by the changes that your new CMMI-based processes will bring.  Describe them with characteristics (such as “well-liked,” “highly accountable,” and “natural leader”) and decide the degree to which they will be impacted by the changes.  Next, decide how much influence that they have on other stakeholders.   This gives you insight into who the Change Leaders will be.

Look for Change Leaders who are:

  • Executives who are accountable for achieving program goals
  • Middle and line managers who can lead and motivate their people
  • Informal change agents who have informal influence and respect

Once you’ve identified the people that you want to be Change Leaders, get them involved in specific activities, such as:

  • Being active SEPG Members 
  • Becoming process owners 
  • Joining a SIG (Special Interest Group) that designs or improves the CMMI-based processes
The wonderful thing about valuing performance innovation, as you do, Steve, is that your work is never done.  It’s not like you finish the initial stakeholder analysis and then you’re done identifying all the change leaders you will need for the duration of your program.  Not the case.  You will need change leaders with different skills and traits throughout your performance improvement program.

So keep updating your stakeholder analysis, and keep developing new change leaders.  That will keep you on the path to greatness!

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

Julie Calfin is a Senior CMMI Consultant with Broadsword Solutions Corporation.  She has years of real world experience using OCM strategy and tactics to help her clients achieve their goals. Julie 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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