Thursday, November 5, 2015

SPaMCAST Interview: Where did '12 attributes of great agile organizations' come from?

[NOTE: I recently had the honor of being one of the few thought leaders to be interviewed multiple times on the popular SPaMCAST podcast by host Tom Cagley. Below is an excerpt from our conversation about “12 Attributes of Great Agile Organizations” on SPaMCAST 366. A link to the ful interview appears below. ~ the CMMI Appraiser]

Hey, Jeff, you’ve been talking recently about the attributes of successful organizations. Where did this come from? I would have guessed that it came from your process background. But I saw a presentation that you did recently, which suggests that this concept predates your process background by a lot! ~ Tom Cagley

Hey, Tom. When I was fortunate enough to be asked to give that keynote talk that you attended, I really struggled with what to talk about that would be really meaningful to such a large crowd of highly esteemed professionals and executives in software engineering. My team suggested, “Why don’t you tell our own personal story, and find a way that it makes sense for it to be everyone’s story?”

So that’s where the idea of sharing the attributes of great companies came from. I thought a lot about my childhood, and my upbringing, and the fact that my father was a music teacher and a musician who had a vision for creating an incubator for musicians. When his children were born, he began grooming them to be musicians, assigning three instruments to each child. His idea was, as we grew up, he could have a folk band, a jazz band and a rock band.

So, we were given these instruments as a result of our father’s pre-planning – which I would now call Project Planning SP1.1. From before we were even born, my dad was asking, “What’s the scope of work that we’re going to do here?”

My father created a formula for how to be great as a musician. He nurtured this vision in a very disciplined way. We were up at 6AM every morning. We did tons of performances. We toured the world. We made records, and we lived that way our entire lives. We did a lot of cool stuff that, when I was eight, I thought every family did. I even said to my friends, “Hey, we’re going to China this summer! Where are you guys touring?”

They looked at me like I was a nutcase!

[To hear the full interview, click SPaMCAST 366.]

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.

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