Thursday, July 18, 2013

Can we use Agile to deploy Agile?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, we are having a disagreement on our team and we're trying to remember what you said on the webinar. Can we use Agile to deploy Agile? ~ Jorge A.

Dear Readers,

We received many questions after our recent webinar, "Agile Resiliency: Scaling Agile So That It Thrives and Survives," about utilizing the architectural strengths of the CMMI to make Agile more resilient to change and large-scale corporate pressure. As promised, I am addressing those questions here over the next several days. ~ the CMMI Appraiser 

Dear Jorge,

Absolutely, you can! Why not? On the webinar, I spoke about the methodology we call AgileCMMI at Broadsword, and that’s exactly what we do with all of our clients. We help them roll out Agile methods using Agile methods to help organizations deploy whatever they want to deploy.

Sometimes when I suggest the approach of using Agile to deploy Agile, I get funny looks. People tilt their heads and say, “huh?”

Since pioneering the concept, we’ve seen the AgileCMMI methodology develop into a well-defined, mature method for continuous improvement in technology organizations worldwide. Companies large and small are using it – and you can too.

In addition in the projects that we run in our client engagements, I use this method to teach my CMMI training courses. In particular, I use Scrum to teach a class called Scrum Plus CMMI. Class participants get a Scrum board, with columns for “to-do,” "doing," and “done,” along with user stories and story points and all of the things that you would expect on any Agile project.

This is significant because one of the keys to success in performance improvement, or process improvement planning, is to provide resources that make sense for the project. Management needs to provide the right tools and environmental resources (i.e., facilities) to deploy Agile values, methods and tools. Providing the right resources is how to ensure that the deployment is useful, and that your team can be successful.

Unfortunately, companies don’t always operate that way. I’m currently working with a client that is using Scrum to adopt Scrum. When I first met them, they said, “We want to adopt Scrum, but we have people sitting all over the building in different cubicles, and we don’t want to re-locate them or buy any software to support agile methods. So how do we deploy Scrum?”

My answer was, “Well, we could do that, but it'll be pretty tough with a small chance of success."

Instead of launching into the deployment, I got them thinking about the need to have some cultural change in the organization. They are currently working to develop resources like mobile team room and moveable Scrum boards. They're doing some cool stuff with iPads mounted on moveable stands (like you see in a hospital) with Skype running on them. We are helping them adopt a new Way of doing business, rolling out the changes iteratively and incrementally.

That’s the cool thing about using Agile to adopt Agile. The approach allows you to build Agile processes incrementally, pilot them and learn as you go. You get to try them out, get feedback, determine what changes are needed, and deploy them all in a structured, iterative environment.

If you are interested in learning more, Jorge, consider taking a CMMI training course that is related to CMMI, Scrum, or general process improvement. The CMMI Institute offers many such courses. Look on our website for courses we are offering.

Meantime, feel free to register for a REPLAY of "Agile Resiliency: Scaling Agile So That It Thrives and Survives” and watch it again at your convenience.

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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