Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why do we have to state what our values, methods and techniques are? We’re Agile!

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, Why do we neede an organizational policy? We’re Agile! ~ Becky R.

Dear Readers

In our recent webinar, "Agile Resiliency: Scaling Agile So That It Thrives & Survives," we talked about the idea of utilizing the architectural strengths of the CMMI to make Agile more resilient to change and large-scale corporate pressure. This prompted many questions, which, as promised, I will be addressing here over the next few days ~ the CMMI Appraiser 

Hey, Becky,

Your question came at a point in the webinar when I was talking about the practice in the CMMI that guides companies to establish an organizational policy to set expectations for everyone who will be performing the processes.

Because I knew this CMMI language might sound foreign to the ears of Agile practitioners such as yourself, I translated the practice into Agile terms, and re-stated it as follows:  “Have we said with complete clarity, what our values are, what methods we are using, and what our techniques will be?”

In translation, then, your question becomes, “Why do we have to clearly state our values, methods and techniques, if we’re Agile?” And my answer: Because you want to win!

Clarity helps you win. If you don’t have clarity on what to focus on, you become like a sports team that has lost sight of its mission. The result can be a comedy of errors.

Of course, on a real soccer team – or any team sport – the players would never dream of taking the field without having clarity around their values, methods and techniques. Yet, here in the software industry, we’re different. We often just run out onto the field and start flailing away. The ball bounces around, and five of us bang into each other, trying to get it. We suffer a lot of bumps and bruises. Ultimately, we’re happy just to make it to the ice cream party, after the release.

Sure, I’m exaggerating – a little. But at some point, most of us have seen this type of chaos in our software development projects. It happens when we don’t have the absolute clarity to focus on what’s most important to our business, our process, and our product.

But you can easily avoid the chaos that arises in the absence of clarity, Becky. All you need to do is ask "the CMMI questions" about your Agile approach, such as, “Are we setting clear expectations across the enterprise? Which Agile values, methods and techniques will be deployed and adopted?”

This is incredibly important, especially when applying the concept of using tools like the CMMI to strengthen Agile methods, as discussed in the webinar.

Try it today, Becky. Try establishing clarity around your values, methods and techniques, and see if it doesn’t give you an immediate bump in performance. With practice, you will be able to position your team to go forward with this type of clarity every time you take the field.  More often than not, you’ll walk away a winner.

Did you miss the webinar? Click the link to register for a replay of "Agile Resiliency: Scaling Agile So That It Thrives & Survives.” And, as always, feel free to submit any questions!

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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