Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why are Values such a Big Deal?

OK, CMMI Appraiser. I know Corporate Values are important, but it seems like every company says the same thing. I just don’t see how they make a real difference in what we do. What is the Big Deal about values?

Dear Reader: 

That is a great question. And, it’s one we’re serious about.

Let’s assume you have a darn good company, or that you are on the path to becoming one. What makes you that way?

Leadership, your expertise, and your people are important. So are your business processes – the way you do your work, every day. Good and great companies do their work in a predictable, consistent way. 

But, what happens when a company’s values become disconnected from the way people do their work? We think it leads to bad decisions, strained customer relationships, and poor quality. 

To be useful, Values must guide behavior

At Broadsword, we call this “making values operational.” We use a “values-based architecture” that links Values, Methodologies, and Techniques. Our goal is to trace a direct link between the company’s values and how work gets done. 

Here’s an example. If one of your values is to “incrementally deal with issues and risk,” you might select a method such as Scrum and use a technique like Daily Stand-up. If you are an Agile shop, choosing Waterfall with this value would be a problem.

I am convinced that Values are critical. They have an impact on customers, on employees, and on the way products are developed and code is written. 

We have nine core values that we have “operationalized.” Each value guides our behavior and can be traced to how we do our work. Our values range from being “creative problem solvers focused on our clients” to being “fun and hassle free to work with.”   

We think our Values reflect who we are as a company. They’re definitely a big deal.

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 for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovationsoftware process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

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

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