Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CMMI-TV: What do you do when management doesn't "get" Agile?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, how do you deal with management not understanding the work of their agile teams? ~ NY-SPIN Attendee

Dear Readers,

Today’s episode of CMMI-TV was filmed ON LOCATION at an NY-SPIN event in New York City, where I presented on “Agile Resiliency.” A participant asked how to deal with a situation where management doesn’t understand what agile development teams are doing. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!


The problem is, while we’re all off iterating, the business is all off Waterfalling.

In other words, we’re in our development teams, cruising along Sprint 93, doing our backlog, having fun with backlog grooming and everything else we do, and the accountants are up there in the management suite, saying, “I don’t know what those kids are up to down there, but I don’t like it.”


As a result, we’re starting to see companies build in multiple layers of management. It might look something like this:

Let’s say you’ve got five Scrum teams. Now the company layers on two project managers. The project managers create a MS Project work plan. They create a risk log. They do all the documentation. They manage everything. They even translate story points into hours. This is a bad idea, but they do it.

In consequence, we now have companies in Washington saying, “One story point is one day of work.”


As engineers, let’s reverse engineer what that type of behavior does to agile. If we are going to create story points and time, and put them in the same box, we’re going to destroy the equilibrium of agile completely – and that’s exactly what we don’t want to happen.


Anyone interested in learning how to lead a proper transformation your organization to agile is invited to sign up for this month’s new Webinar, “Agile Transformation.”


What: “Everything You Need to Know. Agile Transformation!
When: Thursday, March 26, 2015 at noon EDT
Cost: FREE!

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

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified 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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

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