Monday, December 14, 2015

What is the Capability Challenge?

Dear Readers, below is an excerpt from my recent interview with celebrating podcaster Tom Cagley of SPaMCAST, to let folks know about the CMMI Institute’s Capability Counts 2016 ongoing webinar series. Enjoy! ~ the CMMI Appraiser

Jeff, what is the Capability Challenge and how did it come about?

Well, Tom, it’s great to talk to you again. I was thinking that you and I have done online interviews many times, and have only met in person once. It’s nice to see you again in this virtual way.

The Capability Challenge was an idea that came up when we were doing some work at the CMMI Institute, planning for the Capability Counts 2016 conference, which takes place in Annapolis, MD on May 10-12, 2016.

Register for Capability Counts 2016 by March 11, 2016 and save $200.

The way it came about was, we started with a question: How could we give everyone in the industry access to the some of the many, many great stories out there, so that they can learn from them, and grow?

We thought, you know something, this really would be useful for the industry. So how we could give some of these people a platform to tell their stories? Webinars were a viable option, and so was the stage at Capability Counts 2016. And then we took it to the next level and said, wouldn’t it be fun to have a competition that takes place online AND in person, and is judged by a live audience? That’s how we came up with this idea of the Capability Challenge.

Tom: So how does the Capability Challenge work?

Jeff: On a series of webinars, and finally on stage, in person, people will tell their stories about what they did that was great, what kind of great results they got using the CMMI and other techniques. At the end of each presentation, the audience will vote for the winner. The story that gets the largest percentage of votes on each webinar, wins. So, each of the four webinars will have one victor, and the four of them will have the opportunity to speak in front of the entire capability conference in a plenary presentation. They’ll get to tell their story in front of an audience of government employees, purchasing agents and people that are professions in the process improvement and software and engineering worlds. The audience will vote using their cell phones. And the winner will be announced at the end of the conference as the 2016 Capability Challenge champion.

Tom: What you don't see me doing is rubbing my hands together! Do you see this becoming a little bit of blood sport?

Jeff: (Laughing) Well, you know I haven’t considered that, but would be something if people would get that excited about it.

We really think people will be excited to participate as audience members. The kind of stories being told here are stories of companies that have great cultures and companies that do great things. And, I’ve noticed, companies that do great things want to learn from one another. They don’t want to compete at that level. They want to learn from one another. That’s another great benefit of being a presenter. Some of the winners are going to find out that the other presentations that they were competing against are just as interesting and just as exciting and just as results-oriented as the stories they told. It’s a good opportunity for everybody to learn from everybody else in our community.

Tom: So, if you’ve gotten to this level, you’ve actually done something fantastic within your own company to begin with. When they go head-to-head, that’s when the most different, the most interesting, the best emerges?

Jeff: Yes. Each of the contestants –

Tom: Gladiators. Let’s just call them gladiators. Kidding.

Jeff: Well, we’ll have the world-famous Tom Cagley moderating, and maybe acting as a referee, getting in between all of these people that are competing. Tom, you’re sort of like in the boxing match. You’re keeping people safe as possible, and you’ll be doing it in interview style! That’s the reason we asked you to come. We know you can evoke the best stories from of our contestants. With all of the SPaMCAST interviews you’ve done now, you’re an expert at pulling out information from people.

Tom: Well, I’m going to have fun doing that and I hope everyone else does too!

Jeff: Here's how to join the fun:
What:     2016 Capability Challenge Webinar Series: Round 1
When:    December 15th at 11 a.m. EST 
Sign up: Click here

[Check back soon for the next interview excerpt about Capability Counts 2016!]

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 engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

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