Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is there an easy way for managers communicate about adopting the CMMI?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, our Virginia-based health care products company is designing new processes within the CMMI in response to customer requirements. To help facilitate this change, I’ve asked my managers to get up to speed on your blog posts about Organizational Change Management. One problem: they keep forgetting all the steps of the Commitment Curve. Is there an easier way to help us remember the key components of communicating change?~ Lou A.

Lou, it’s great that you are focusing your managers on communicating as a way to facilitate the adoption of CMMI. As you know from reading our posts about Organizational Change Management (OCM), Julie Calfin, Broadsword’s Director of Consulting, does amazing work with companies that are undergoing large scale business transformation. I’ve forwarded your question to Julie. Take it away, Julie! ~ The CMMI Appraiser

Thank you, CMMI Appraiser!

Lou, I’m glad you’ve had your managers read our blog posts as a way to get up to speed on facilitating the adoption of the CMMI in your organization. It’s true that it can be difficult to remember all seven steps of the Commitment Curve if you are not used to them. Perhaps it will help to summarize these steps into three basic themes: Inform, Educate, Commit.  (See the right side of the chart)

Before I go into these themes, it will be helpful to take a step back and remind your managers why it is so important to communicate.

We use communication for many reasons. We use communication as an accelerator for change. We use communication to help people understand their role and what they have to do differently. We use communication proactively to reduce anxiety and confront issues, such as change resistance, and anticipate those issues before they actually happen. We use communication to build trust in leadership.

Now, Lou, you are doing the right thing by teaching your managers to be better communicators, as long as you understand that the ultimate responsibility for effectively communicating the change resides with you. For communication to be a part of your OCM strategy, one person or group must be planning all the communications, and pulling the trigger to make sure they are sent at the scheduled times.

The above Commitment Curve, which you’ve seen before, shows how we use communications to bring people to commitment. The three themes on the right are new. They should be easier to remember. As you can see, the first theme is to inform people. The next theme has to do with educating them. And the third theme gets them to the point that they commit to whatever it is that we are asking them to do differently.

Let’s break these down:

Informed – when I am informed, I just have the high level information. Per the chart, I have experienced Contact, Awareness and Understanding as precursors to being informed.

Educated – when I am educated, I know more of the details. I know how the change will affect me personally. I know what skills I will need. I know how my role will be different. Best of all, from a company culture perspective, once I am educated, I can educate others, and can tell others what this new change or new process is.

Committed – when I am committed, I’m not only telling people about the new processes, I’m using them. I’m living them. My actions are showing that I’ve accepted the change. You’ll see me training other people in the change, and making sure they are using the new processes.

Hopefully by reducing the seven steps to three themes, Lou, your managers will be able to remember the key components of communicating change.

Good luck!  

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

Julie Calfin is the Director of Consulting at 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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