Thursday, April 9, 2015

CMMI-TV: What is the secret to saving agile?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, what’s the secret to saving agile? ~ 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 for the secret to saving Agile. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!


What we’re really after is getting consistent results by strengthening the Agile ceremonies.

CMMI is a really cool tool for that, because there are over 350 practices in Level 2 and Level 3 that we can apply to make the Agile ceremonies super strong and resilient, such as:

  • Planning Poker
  • Refractoring
  • Velocity
  • Sprint Demos
  • Pair Programming
  • Test-Driven Development


Why do we want to make our agile practices strong and resilient?

  • So that a retrospectives really makes us better as a company
  • So that our planning really is accurate
  • So that our estimating really is accurate


A big change is happening in our market and the influence of some of the newer players – such as the federal government, and big defense contractors – who are demanding that their vendors “go agile.” They are bringing $20B a year in pressure to our industry.

In my opinion, this why we need a resilient model. Right now, agile is a loose collection of methods and tools, by definition. And, yes, there’s a lot of fear in our industry that too much structure will cause problems.

But the simple truth is this. If we want agile to remain agile, we need to agree on a resilient model that can withstand all of the attempts of these new players to change our values. It is time to start building resilient agile architecture.


The secret to saving agile is not to make it look like Waterfall, which is where we’ve been going. The secret to saving Agile is to make it strong and resilient and powerful, so that it works everywhere, and it’s reliable. We can prove to the Board room that it’s actually an industrial strength approach. We’re not doing that now. Unless you are working in the smallest company, if you think your senior manager is on board with Agile – I can promise you, he’s not.

I’ve been the CIO of three different companies. They don’t know what Agile is. When they hear “Agile,” they think “faster and cheaper.” So if I say, “I can give you software faster and cheaper,” the CIO will say, “I don’t care how you do it – just give it to me faster and cheaper.”


Anyone interested more discussion about Agile and CMMI is invited to sign up for this month’s Webinar, “Everyting You Need to Know: Agile Transformation!”


What: Everything You Need to Know: Agile Transformation!
When: April 15th at noon EDT
Sign up: Here

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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