Tuesday, September 5, 2017

For a Mentor-Protégé Program mentor, what resources do you recommend?

CMMI Appraiser – my company is getting involved in the Department of Defense’s Mentor-Protégé Program. What resources do you recommend for a mentor? ~ Jay A.

Congratulations on getting involved in the Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP)! It’s pretty cool that the DoD (along with a dozen or so other federal agencies) is giving opportunities to companies like yours an opportunity to help small businesses learn to get on the path to being a great company, and compete for contract awards. Done right, everybody wins.

Of course, great companies don’t just happen. As mentor, your job is to help them learn how to change the way that they think, so that they can align themselves with success. That’s really what performance innovation and process improvement are all about — changing the culture and changing the way we think.

But change is hard. To be successful, you need a good understanding of the complexity of culture change, and the consulting skills to help them set goals, communicate, solve problems, and help them transform in a positive way.

Some mentors think they need to tell their proteges what they should do. Process improvement is NOT about telling people what they should do. It's helping your protege' company finding out what they're good at, and what they can do even better.  

The biggest impact you can make as a mentor is to help them figure how they are going to DEPLOY process improvement to their community. Because that’s the biggest question they are going to struggle with: “How will we get our people to embrace the process and use it?”

It’s a valid concern. If you look at the many, many process implementations that have failed, you’ll see companies making the same (avoidable) mistake, over and over. They tried to throw a big binder at their employees, or a huge website, and said: “Here’s the process. Thou shalt use it!”

That’s like asking people to eat an elephant in one bite.

There are a lot of ways to deploy process improvement.

The best way for me, over the past dozen years or so, has been to take an iterative and incremental approach similar to Scrum.

Our approach is to use agileCMMI.  It uses agile techniques, such as incremental at iterative delivery, continuous build, collaboration, etc. to deploy process and get people to embrace process. It applies the same techniques we use when writing software. This helps people embrace and adopt it.

Not only does it help your protege take an incremental and iterative approach to design and deployment, it presents everything to developers in a language they understand. Rather than trying to shove them into the process world, which is a world they don’t want to be in, agileCMMI allows the use of UML diagrams and data flow diagram, for example. These are things people are used to using, and will accept.

That makes sense, right? After all, the best process in the world is useless if you can’t get people to embrace it and adopt it. And until they embrace it and adopt it, you don’t even know if the process they developed is even useful!

Whether it takes several weeks or a few months, everything they need will eventually be implemented. Then you’ll see them start to embrace their new behaviors and processes, and use them successfully. They may even start using it in other parts of their business, like sales, marketing, HR and finance. When that happens, you’ll know it has become their “Way” of doing business. They have learned how to get on the path to being a great company.

As a mentor, what could be more rewarding?

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 www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

No comments: