Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How can we establish agile values across a 5000-person enterprise?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, I was referred to your blog by a friend in the industry who said you write about getting agile and CMMI to work together. In January, my agile shop was acquired by a national IT consulting and software solutions firm that is a CMMI Level 3 organization, with an intent to scale agile company-wide.  It’s no problem to establish a set of values with a Scrum team, but can we do the same across an entire enterprise of 5000 people? ~ Steven K.

Steven, glad to hear that we have a mutual friend!  And welcome to the CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration).  Yes, the Model is one of the tools you can use to help establish agile values across the enterprise.

Think of the CMMI as a set of guidelines to improve organizational performance. The CMMI is a framework that helps you learn how to design a flexible architecture for continuous process improvement. And the CMMI is a tool that can help you set the right goals and objectives and keep asking the right questions.

Now, there are four areas within in the CMMI that specifically address values. You can establish agile values across an organization of 100, 500 or 5000 employees by using the CMMI to help you ask questions from these process areas and using the guidance. I will touch on them briefly.

Organizational training
  • Are we training people enough so that they understand what’s important to us as a set of values?
  • How are we training them?

Organizational process definition
  • Are the values clear?
  • Does everybody understand the values?
  • Do we have our values presented in a format that enables everybody to know exactly what they are? (Examples include emails, posters in every team meeting, messages scribbled on everybody’s white board, etc.)

Organizational process retrospective
  • What can we learn from the lessons that came before?
  • Have we captured information from the lessons learned and shared it with the rest of the company?
  • Have we put our team on a vertical improvement trajectory?

Generic Practices (GPs)
  • Have we established an organizational policy? (Generic Practice 2.1)
  • Have we planned the process? (Generic Practice 2.2)
  • Are we providing resources? (Generic Practice 2.3)
  • Have we assigned responsibility? (Generic Practice 2.4)
  • Have we trained people? (Generic Practice 2.5)
  • Are we controlling work products? (Generic Practice 2.6)
  • Have we identified and involved relevant stakeholders? (Generic Practice 2.7)
  • Are we monitoring and controlling the process? (Generic Practice 2.8)
  • Are we objectively evaluating adherence? (Generic Practice 2.9)
  • Do we consistently review status with higher level management? (Generic Practice 2.10)
  • Have we established a defined process? (Generic Practice 3.1)
  • Are we collecting process related experiences? (Generic Practice 3.2)

That’s a lot to digest, I know. But all this means is that you can use the guidance of CMMI to help establish a set of methods and frameworks by asking and answering many questions.

For more in-depth information on establishing agile values enterprise-wide, Steven, you want want to participate in our upcoming Webinar presentation of "Agile Resiliency: Scaling Agile So That It Thrives & Survives." We will address these questions, and more.

Click HERE to register for the Live Webinar (Friday, June 21st @1pm EDT)

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

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, ScrumMaster, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff pioneered agileCMMI, the leading methodology for incremental and iterative process improvement. He 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 for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

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