Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Art of CMMI: Tactical Dispositions

[Our good friend Shawn Rapjack, CMMI expert and seasoned consultant, is back with a another installation on CMMI based on Sun Tzu's "The Art of War: Tactical Dispositions."  We're excited that Shawn has agreed to share segments of his article with you here on "Ask the CMMI Appraiser"]

Continuing the ‘Art of CMMI’ discussion, let’s join the battle with the Art of War’s fourth chapter, ‘Tactical Dispositions’ and alternately named, ‘Positioning’.  A theme for this chapter is ‘defense’, and specifically: ‘not creating opportunities for the enemy’.  But what does this mean for us CMMI practitioners?

It means playing it safe, being anticipatory, and addressing risk.  Sun Tzu summarizes:

Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory

Such cautionary forethought is captured throughout the CMMI.   For example, managing risk provides a mechanism to anticipate possible roadblocks. As with battlefield tactics, risks are identified and plans are implemented to counteract or mitigate their impact. 

Project planning also requires significant ‘defensive posturing’.  Managers need to consider future ‘attacks’ on their project well into the future.  These could be:  scheduling conflicts, resource allocation conflicts, budget issues, etc.  Remember that:

To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.
To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength; to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight; to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.

And hence the modern saying:  ‘You have a fine grasp of the obvious.’ If a manager only anticipates the obvious hurdles (‘uh oh! Budgets!’), they will miss the countless obscure ‘gotchas’ (weather-related delays, delivery schedule conflicts, etc.) that could befall their program.

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

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead AppraiserCertified 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 and performance improvement program.

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