Thursday, December 6, 2018

Big Agile Requires Strong Leadership: Just Not The Kind You're Used To


By: Jeff Dalton

Everywhere we look, including every CMMI and Agile appraisal I’ve done in the last decade, technology leaders in large companies are asking about scaling agility. 

But it’s the wrong question. They should be asking how to scale self-organization.

For centuries business has been led using a proven hierarchical, low-trust, command-and-control model that has its roots in the successful Roman military machine, and is still taught today in MBA programs from Cambridge to Ann Arbor.  It’s a model that is in professional DNA, and self-organization, a foundational characteristic of agility, is absent.

In recent years, many businesses have been attempting to transition from traditional hierarchies to self-organizing models based on the  “rules of nature,” a system that more closely resembles the controlled chaos of the natural world.  They start with the premise that humans naturally demonstrate certain behavior patterns, and it makes sense to leverage these, rather than re-program them to fit into more traditional hierarchical models.  Agile frameworks like Scrum,  as well as self-organizing performance models like the Agile Performance Holarchy, are good examples of this.  

These models invert the hierarchy, transforming leaders into stewards of the a self-organizing behavioral architecture,  with team roles and accountabilities dispersed throughout the organization in a way that allows people go about the messy process of self-organization and improved performance. In an agile world, team members are empowered to make important decisions within the context of the behavioral architecture without having to ask permission from a supervisor or manager.

But don’t expect all mangers, or the schools where MBA students who are eager to lead are graduating, to come along willingly.  To ask them to change is to ask them to transform themselves after a lifetime of learning how to succeed in a hierarchical world.  This might have been best articulated by Benjamin Disreaeli, who upon becoming the Prime Minister of the UK said “I have climbed to the top of a greasy pole!.”  Indeed.
 
Why Agile Matters

According to the CMMI Institute, over seventy percent of organizations who have achieved a CMMI rating in the last three years describe at least some of their projects as  “agile.”  This is a dramatic increase over previous years that has deep-rooted cultural and operational implications.  There are good reasons for leaders to transition to self-organizing models, but significant cultural change, especially among leaders, will need to take place to ensure success.

Agile frameworks reduce the cost of failure. It is conventional wisdom in the technology industry that failure is inevitable, with many companies seeing failure rates as high as 70 percent.  Research conducted by organizations such as the Project Management Institute and the Software Engineering Institute has consistently confirmed high failure rates, so it makes sense to seek solutions that assume failure, not success, and to simply reduce its cost.   All agile frameworks, with their incremental and iterative development model, support the idea of “fail-fast.”

Failure is not just an option; it’s a requirement. A foundational premise of agile is to acknowledge that failure is normal, and we should plan to fail fast and learn as much as we can.  This reduces a project’s cost while allowing teams to redirect efforts toward a more successful approach through the use of experimentation, retrospectives, and short, timeboxed iterations. Quality professionals will recognize this as an application of W. Edwards Deming’s “plan-do-check-act” framework of continuous improvement applied in short iterations.

Agile methods deliver business value to end-users more quickly. Value is delivered more quickly with an iterative and incremental delivery approach due to low-value features being de-prioritized or discarded, freeing up valuable resources to focus on the high-priority needs of the customer.

Self-organization pushes decision-making downward, freeing leaders to focus on strategy. For decades, the technology industry has explored ways to push decisions downward. Agile frameworks finally provide a model that can make that a reality, if only leaders are willing to accept their role as enablers rather than task managers. A successful agile team requires minimal over- sight, makes day-to-day operational decisions, collaborates with business customers, and delivers business value without the need for continuous management intervention.

Agile complements important IT industry models. If CMMI®, ISO 9001, and the PMBOK® Guide are models we use, agile is something we are. For example, CMMI has a perspective of defining what needs to occur for a product or service to be successfully and consistently deliver, and to improve the process,  while agile values describe why we take those actions. If adopted in this way, rather as only a marketing tool to receive a rating, CMMI makes agile stronger.

Big Agile is Coming

Since 2016, General Motors, the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, Fiat Chrysler, and other large companies have begun to adopt agile within their software organizations, and along with their combined $100 Billion IT budgets they are bringing their biases, bureaucracies, documentation, and leadership infrastructure with them.  What will be the effect on the agile community?

“Big Agile” requires leadership at all levels, just not the kind we are used to. Simply working with an agile coach to implement well-known ceremonies is not enough. Metaphorically, the leadership “operating system” needs an upgrade.

In today’s corporate hierarchies where command-and-control structures, low trust, long-term planning, and risk management reign supreme, the skills required to thrive and survive are anything but agile. This leaves agile teams to push the culture uphill, leading to unpredictable results once business operations expand beyond the boundaries of the core agile team. This creates a “cultural type-mismatch”  due to information technology, operations, marketing, infrastructure, business development, sales, and end-users not being on the same cultural page.

Performing agile ceremonies and techniques without self-organization isn’t agile at all. There is nothing inherently wrong with adopting ceremonies and techniques identified as being agile, and many companies have found some success with that, but the power of agile values and their associated frameworks grows exponentially once self-organization is perfected.

What to do about it?

Tomorrow’s leaders, and the schools and corporate mentoring programs that train them, will need to transition their mission from that of command-and-control task manager to one of an architect and operator of a self-organizing infrastructure.  This includes changes in culture, training, and performance monitoring with a bias towards high-trust, peer accountability and self-governance.  Two models that can help new leaders prepare for the future are the Capability Maturity Model Integration V2.0 ® and the Agile Performance Holarchy (APH).
CMMI V2.0 provides guidance for leaders to consider while implementing improvements to organizational process systems, and currently contains twenty Practice Areas, with three that specifically apply to solving this problem: Governance (GOV), Process Management (PCM), and Implementation Infrastructure (II).  These three Practices Areas each contain practices that can help leaders formulate a plan, as well as develop and deploy a system, for a new, self-organizing operating model. 

The Agile Performance Holarchy is a leadership model that provides a definition of a self-organizing agile architecture, with objectives, desired outcomes, and set of behavioral guiderails for agile leaders and teams seeking to master self-organization and large-scale agility.  The APH currently contains six Performance Circles that address Leadership, Craftsmanship, Providing Infrastructure, Affirming Quality, Teaming, and Envisioning Solutions.

Culture Needs to Change

An “Agile Transformation” where the scope is hiring an agile coach, and the adoption of basic ceremonies or techniques, is doomed to failure.  Agile isn’t a process or a framework like scrum, XP, or SAFe.  It’s a collaborative, transparent, and self-organizing culture where the operational model is high-trust, empirical, and calibrated for relentless improvement in the pursuit of high quality and increased speed to value. 
Jim Bouchard, author of The Sensei Leader, sums it up for leaders: “Don’t even attempt to transform your organization until you can transform yourself.”

Jeff Dalton is CEO of Broadsword Solutions Corporation.  He is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, CMMI Instructor, Certified Agile Assessor, author, and keynote speaker.  His new book, Great Big Agile: an OS for Agile Leaders  (© 2018), is now available on Amazon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving from the CMMI Appraiser's Family to yours!

Dear Readers,

This Thanksgiving, as Mrs. CMMI Appraiser and I sit down at the holiday table with our Little Appraisers, friends, and extended family, we are thankful for all of the opportunities we've had to meet so many companies that are adopting the CMMI for the right reasons.


Yes, by taking the right approach to adopting the CMMI in 2018, organizations are experiencing higher quality, faster delivery, and more predictable, repeatable results. These outcomes are helping the entire industry improve. That's why, looking forward, we feel an even greater sense of gratitude for all those in 2019 who will choose to adopt the CMMI for the right reasons:

  • Because the CMMI is a time-tested, industry-proven model for positive outcomes;
  • Because the CMMI is a framework and set of guidelines for changing behaviors and changing culture;
  • Because the CMMI allows you to do what you are already doing, only better.
Last but not least, we’re grateful for YOU, the Reader. You’re the one who puts these truths in action every day by following the guidance of the CMMI to keep your company on the path to greatness. Ultimately, YOU are what the CMMI is all about, and we couldn’t feel more fortunate than to be sharing this journey with you!

To show our gratitude, we’re offering you a hassle-free download of our popular book, "A Guide to Scrum and CMMI: Improving Agile Performance with CMMI." Originally published by the CMMI Institute, the book is designed to help you learn to maximize your investment in agile and the CMMI. Read, learn and enjoy!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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 training classes 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.

For other books about CMMI and Agile, including the soon-to-be-published “Great Big Agile: An OS for Agile Leaders,” visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Can CMMI V2.0 help companies reinvigorate Performance Improvement?

CMMI 2.0 is here. Do you think the new instantiation of the model will reinvigorate the use of CMMI as a tool to help people get better, versus just getting business via contracts? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[Editor's Note: On the most recent episode of the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast), Tom Cagley and this CMMI Appraiser are talking CMMI V2.0, and how to begin transitioning to and using the new Model upgrade. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 512.]

Tom, yes, it appears that CMMI 2.0 is capable of helping companies reinvigorate performance improvement. But I think there's going to be a fairly long transition period. In the last seven or eight years, the industry has spent an awful lot of time and money in gearing up for CMMI v1.3, and understanding finally how to pull it all together, and the new release changes that. CMMI 2.0 changes everything.



I think the transition period is going to be a little rough for companies that are doing reappraisals, which account for about 70% of all appraisals each year. In our case, about 20 or 30 companies that I'm working with are all asking me can they reappraise at CMMI v1.3, because they're just completely oriented around CMMI v1.3, and they don't want to have to make a change.

I also believe that the market for CMMI will continue to be strong in the contractor community and the corporate supplier community, due to mandates, as well as the many things the CMMI Institute is doing to increase awareness that CMMI V2.0 is a performance improvement model. I think we are going to see more and more companies adopting CMMI as an improvement model. And we’ll even see some other use usage modes.

For instance, I'm working with a company that recently bought eight of their largest competitors. They ate up the market. In the process of doing that, they wanted to use CMMI as a way to evaluate capabilities. Since then, we've been hearing from M&A houses in New York, asking us to help them evaluate mergers and acquisitions, using CMMI to evaluate capability. And they're not at all interested in a rating. They don't care about SCAMPI. They never even heard of it. They're looking for someone to go in and give them advice on how to use an improvement model like CMMI to establish a capability roadmap.

Another example: We're seeing a new program that's gone up with the FDA, the brainchild of Kirk Botula at the CMMI Institute, where the FDA has permitted the use of CMMI as an alternative to some of the audits that they were doing, mostly in the pharmaceutical industry. There are some Lead Appraisers specializing in that.

The trend is towards performance improvement. You are starting to see more and more organizations that don't care about ratings when adopting CMMI. I'm not sure that's a result of CMMI V2.0 as much as a result of the Institute reaching out and making that case actively. And for those organizations that respond to that message, I think you're going to see a lot of them adopting CMMI V2.0 as their standard, as opposed to CMMI v1.3.

For folks who are interested getting training on all of the changes in the new model, seats are already filling up for our CMMI 2.0 Training Class this Spring. Learn more about CMMI V2.0 Training, plus our optional Agile/CMMI Integration Workshop on April 1-5, 2019.

# # #

I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #512. We'll be talking more about the changes in the new upgrade, CMMI V2.0, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

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 training classes 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.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Is achieving CMMI ML3 supposed to be scary?

Dear CMMI Appraiser,

Our CMMI Appraiser is scaring us! This whole CMMI certification thing is worse than a tax audit. He’s keeping us in meetings for hours. He is demanding work product evidence for every single sub-practice in the model ... It is so over-engineered and burdensome. Is getting a CMMI ML3 supposed to be like this? ~ Don B.

Don,

Maybe you should have called 911. It sounds like you are under siege!  It’s more than a little eerie that your question comes on Halloween … Done wrong, a CMMI appraisal can be a real nightmare!


I’m not trying to make light of your situation (well, maybe a little - if you don't laugh, you'll cry). But it’s really scary to think that some of my brethren Lead Appraisers are so far off the deep end that they are making the CMMI feel like murder.

The intention of the CMMI is that you gather together, have fun, learn new skills, establish new traditions and come away the better for it. Where, oh where did your sick and twisted CMMI appraiser go wrong?

Let’s set the record straight.

First, as you are experiencing, too many meetings are a productivity KILLER. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb that the more meetings you have, the less you can accomplish. I’ve heard Lead Appraisers say things like, “We need to have a lot of meetings because they need everything clarified face-to-face, or else how can they understand the projects, resolve issues or risks or assumptions or any of those things?”  AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!  Shoot me now!

Somebody call the process police! That explanation is just criminal.

Second, a SCAMPI appraisal is NOT an audit! A good Lead Appraiser is the OPPOSITE of an auditor. The CMMI is a model for continuous improvement, and a Lead Appraiser is tasked with not only ensuring that you’re using the model properly, but that you are getting value out of it, and that your company is using it to become a better or – as I call it – a great company. That’s the bottom line of CMMI.

If your Lead Appraiser is insisting on seeing “work product evidence,” or what they call “artifacts” in CMMI v1.3 for every single sub practice in the model, he’s acting like an auditor. The CMMI does NOT call for an audit of subpractices! Talk about shattering the stillness of the night with blood-curdling screams!

A Lead Appraiser who behaves like an auditor is driving wrong behaviors, wasting money, and making people hate CMMI. He might as well come at you with a machete.

Clearly what’s happening is that your Lead Appraiser is over-engineering what his task is. He probably thinks the way to win business is to force you down a path where you are terrified of him and think you need to memorize everything that’s in the book. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no reason for anyone in your company to do that.

Don, this may be difficult, but I want you to remain calm. Stay on the line, and know that the practices in the CMMI are valuable guidance for you. They are not things to comply with, as written. They are guidance for you; their job is to help you make yourself incrementally and iteratively better.

A good Lead Appraiser won’t care if you know what the GPs are, by their numbers. All a good Lead Appraiser will care about is: Are you training people? Do you have a process for doing work? Do you have policies? Are you improving as an organization? Are you learning about yourselves?

You need a good Lead Appraiser, Don. Wake up from the nightmare.  Fast. We’ve seen that movie. What a horror show!

[Join us for "Everything You Need to Know about CMMI v1.3" on Friday, November 9th at 2PM. Register for the FREE webinar 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 www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Why Is CMMI V2.0 a Game-Changer?

Jeff, Why do you consider CMMIV2.0 a game-changer? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[Editor's Note: This CMMI Appraiser has had the pleasure of being interviewed many times by Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about CMMI, Agile, and Performance Improvement. On the most recent episode, we're talking CMMI V2.0, and how to begin transitioning to and using the new Model upgrade. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 512.]

Tom,

The CMMI Institute is very serious about turning CMMI from a process model into a performance model -- though they haven't quite mastered it yet.


Even so, there has been a lot of progress in CMMI V2.0. In the old Model, CMMI v1.3, we had a bunch of vertical practices like Project Planning, Project Monitoring, and Technical Solutions -- and we still have some of those. But the way the practices are framed now, in V2.0, is much more organized around "threads." 

Previously, instead of threads, we had what you could almost consider “requirements.” These were aspects of the Model that seemed to be saying, “You must do this, you must do this, and you must do this.” It was up to you figure out how to instantiate these requirements at your company level in order to create threads from it so that each one actually manifested as a behavioral outcome, and you could say, "This is how our teams behave."

In CMMI V2.0, they really did a much better job than CMMI v1.3 in representing the "Practice Areas," as they call them now, and the practices within them, in more of a thread-based fashion. Now it's easier to look at it and at least make sense of what they were trying to do. To get to this point, the CMMI Institute re-architected the CMMI around four major areas for CMMI2.0: “Doing, Managing, Enabling, and Improving.”

I always tell my students that another word for process is “work.” Process isn't overhead. Process is actually how work is supposed to happen. Well, in the new Model upgrade, I think the CMMI Institute really took that to heart. Not only did they create the four large categories or areas, but they mapped threads to each area, resulting in 12 different threads. They're calling those “capabilities.” Capabilities are things like ensuring quality, for instance, or engineering and developing products. In CMMI V2.0, the practice areas are grouped together in a manner that the Institute best believed met the intent of that thread. 

This is a complete departure from v1.3. I think the architectural changes alone are a game-changer for those people who either need to implement CMMI for contractual purposes, or for just improvement purposes as they grow and get larger as companies.

If folks are interested getting training on all of the changes in the new model, we are hosting another CMMI 2.0 class this Spring. Feel free to learn more about “CMMI V2.0 Training! – Plus Optional Agile/CMMI Integration Workshop” on April 1-5, 2019.

# # #

I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #512. We'll be talking more about the changes in the new upgrade, CMMI V2.0, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

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 training classes 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.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Which Scrum Master Certification should I get? CSM or PSM?

Jeff - I'm thinking of getting some Scrum Master training to help me get a new job.  Which one should I get?

There are two different version of Scrum Master certification: the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) from the Scrum Alliance, and the Professional Scrum Master from Scrum.org.
The CSM requires that you take a class from an instructor certified by the Scrum Alliance, and the class must be the formal CSM class. The exam is fairly easy, and so is the class, so much so that there has been a lot of criticism in the market about it.  Cost is roughly $800-1000 for the class, and that often included the cost of the online test.
Right now, the CSM is the “HR standard” in corporate IT for hiring new Scrum Masters - like it or not.  There are a lot of reasons to NOT like the use of certs for hiring criteria, but I'll leave that to another post.
The Professional Scrum Master cert from scrum . org does not require a certified class, and you can take the test based on your own study of the Scrum Guide and hands-on experience. I feel that this was done on purpose to encourage real experience as the teacher, vs learning in the 2-day class . This would align more with agile values. 
My experience was that the PSM exam is much more difficult, and also much more practical and scenario than the CSM.
A lot of hiring managers are moving to the PSM as the standard for hiring because of the experiential nature of it, and how robust the test is, as compared to CSM.  To the extent that HR managers use certs for criteria, this is a good thing.
That all said, certifications are not a very good way to make hiring decisions, but if you don’t have a lot of solid work experience, a PSM can be helpful.
Good luck!
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 training classes 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.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Why CMMI 2.0?

Jeff, There is a new CMMI in town. What's that all about? Why CMMI 2.0? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[Editor's Note: Over the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about CMMI V2.0, and how to begin transitioning to and using the new Model upgrade. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 512.]

Tom, as you know, the CMMI was developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) as is a process improvement framework for software and engineering systems, and is currently administered and positioned more as a performance improvement framework by the CMMI Institute. The model is utilized by organizations large and small across the globe to improve capabilities and performance, but there hadn't been an upgrade to CMMI since 2010. Change was overdue.



When the CMMI Institute was spun off by the SCI and Carnegie Mellon into a standalone entity, now owned by ISACA, they were handed an existing product. The challenge was that few people from the Software Engineering Institute made the switch over to the new organization, and so, for a long time, they were really just keeping up in operations mode. They moved over some of the QA folks who looked at appraisals, along with a couple of the technical staff folks, only one of whom remains.

The product they were handed was CMMI v1.3. Everybody in the industry knew that version 1.3 had issues, despite being the defacto standard among the federal government contractors. For starters, it was very academic-focused. I always joke with my classes that v1.3 reads like it was written by 20 PhDs and 25 attorneys.

I believe there was an honest effort to try to make it more clear. But I think what they ended up doing was making it harder to read in the end. It's a particular flaw that has always gotten in the way of more general acceptance.

Another challenge has been that the appraisal method of version 1.3 was pretty heavy duty. As a result, lot of company owners and directors weren't excited about doing CMMI. They wanted to get that accreditation or “CMMI certification” as they called it (the accurate terms is to achieve a "rating"), but found it very difficult.

So not only was the wording ambiguous in many of the 356 practices in Maturity Level 3, but it also was an appraisal method that demanded a very high documentary evidence standard. Every one of those 356 practices required an artifact of some sort. You could have an artifact that spread across many practices, but on the whole appraisals were an exercise in collecting, categorizing and scoring mostly artifacts, and then adding some affirmations or verbal statements towards the end.

This was considered a very heavy, expensive time consuming effort. Companies were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars – sometimes less, sometimes more – in order to achieve that rating, and much of that cost was the appraisal.

So, between somewhat ambiguously worded practices and the way they were architected in the model, and the way the appraisal method was conducted, there was cause for the industry to scream out and say: “Hey, the federal government is going to keep demanding this. This is too much for us and too expensive. We need a better solution.” And that was the driver for change.

Fortunately, the CMMI Institute is blessed by a truly visionary leader, Kirk Botula, for whom I have a great deal of respect. Not only is Kirk a musician, and a fine musician at that, but he has also got a really good eye for the industry, having run a software company prior to joining the Institute. He brought a real industry-focused, consumer-focused view to the CMMI Institute that never existed in the SCI, in my opinion.

The changes started slowly. The industry was slow to react to Kirk’s new kind of approach. They were a little shell-shocked, I think, when they were asked to find out what their customers really wanted. Kirk was masterful at pulling together focus groups. He's traveled the world talking to people, and did a lot of industry research to find out what is it that people want. Then the Institute enlisted the help of partners, lead appraisers, and instructors -- and everyone they could talk to who did this for a living – and got them all to come together and help create this new product. The result was version 2.0.

There was a lot of talk about, “Should this be version 1.4?” Kirk was very clear in saying: No, it shouldn't be. It should be something totally new, totally different. The team worked hard on it, and released a version 2.0 just a couple of months ago.

As of yet, no appraisals have been conducted, but the very first public training class was done a couple of weeks ago and I was fortunate enough to teach that first class. I got to be the first one to stand up and talk about the new model and what was great about it, and honestly, some things that weren't as good as I had hoped. The class went swimmingly, and it really looks like CMMI V2.0 is going to be a game-changer in the industry.

If folks are interested getting training on all of the changes in the new model, we are hosting another CMMI 2.0 class in February. Feel free to learn more about “CMMI V2.0 Training! – Plus Optional Agile/CMMI Integration Workshop” on April 1-5, 2019.

# # #

I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #512. We'll be talking more about the changes in the new upgrade, CMMI V2.0, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

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 training classes 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.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Won’t coders working on automation put themselves out of business?

Won’t coders working on Automation put themselves out of business?


When I was a young programmer (more decades ago than I care to remember) my first job was writing compilers. Everyone said to me, “don’t you feel bad putting all those assembler programmers out of business?” Of course, I didn’t because, well, I was getting paid to create compilers, but more importantly those compilers would go on to help the next generation of developers create great sites like google and Facebook - which never would have been written in 8086 assembler!
In the early 90s I had a job writing CASE tools - an early form of code automation, and we developed “point-and-click” interfaces that “wrote” c code in the background. “Wrote” is a strong word given that it all came from a database of code we had written previously, but that’s what it seemed like, and it enabled the next generation to easily create solutions without having to write in c themselves.
People asked me the same question about putting c programmers out of business, but it was obvious that it would end up helping, not hurting, the industry.
Sure - new tools and languages needed to be learned, but it relieved developers from even more drudge work, and let them focus on the good stuff - creating solutions.
Today, people are asking the same thing about automation. Automation will cause another shift in skill sets, but someone has to create and maintain the infrastructure, and then someone will exploit the outcomes to create entirely new, in-imagined solutions to problems. And the good thing about that is, humans will always have problems to solve!
So, stay sharp. Keep up on your skills, and don’t fear the future! Good luck!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

What Processes to "CMMI Companies" use?

What Process to "CMMI Companies" use?

Dear Readers – We've been having a lot of fun on Quora.com recently. For those who are new to the social media platform, I've found it to be a place for high-level discourse about (among other interesting topics) engineering strategy and software process improvement. Below is today's response. Enjoy! ~ the CMMI Appraiser

Great question!

The CMMI contains a set of Practices that our categorized by Process Areas (note: V2.0 calls them Practice Areas now, but both v1.3 and V2.0 are active).
These are not “processes,” they’re an academic breakout of the things great companies do, but think of them more like an inventory of behaviors.
Companies that adopt CMMI are using the model as a checklist of things to examine and, potentially add to, or improve, their processes based on the practices.
ALL companies that adopt CMMI have processes for:
  • Managing Projects (including plans, estimates, risks, data management and management suppliers, and measuring performance).
  • Defining, Designing, building, delivering, and testing solutions to requirements
  • Controlling work products (versioning), ensuring all the relevant work products are in sync.
  • Ensuring quality of performance and work products
  • Managing the continuous improvement of the organization
It helps to think of the CMMI this way, as opposed to focusing on the list or practices.
I like to use the CMMI as a check on what we are ALREADY doing, and to improve on our performance in all of the various areas.
And finally, if you want someone to verify that you’re examining all of these things, you can get appraised by a lead appraiser, and get a rating (Maturity Level).
You can find our more about this at www.broadswordsolutions.com.
Good luck!
Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software leader!

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.

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

How can I become a Software Developer at 41?

How can I change my career and become a SW developer at age 41?

Dear Readers – We've been having a lot of fun on Quora.com recently. For those who are new to the social media platform, I've found it to be a place for high-level discourse about (among other interesting topics) engineering strategy and software process improvement. Below is today's response. Enjoy! ~ the CMMI Appraiser

That’s an excellent question!
I myself was a late starter. My first career was in music, and I was in my 30s before I picked up my first computer. Now, at 58, I’ve been a developer, analyst, project manager, architect, CTO, VP, and CEO - all in the software business - so it’s definitely possible!
It’s hard to break into this business as an older person. It’s definitely dominated by young, bright, energetic people, so it can be intimidating.
Obviously, you’ll need to gain some competence in coding and analysis, and this can be done at your local community college, or even through self-study and sites like Kahn Academy, which offers college level courses for free. Strive to be the best - because competence will be your most valuable asset.
I would start by building some of your own software applications right away. Just pick something simple, and just write some programs. College courses are good, but nothing beats actual development of a working app!
It’s going to be tough to walk into a job where you’re competing with younger folks that have experience, but let’s focus on the things you’ve probably learned along the way:
  • Focus
  • Patience
  • Complex problem solving
  • Controlling your ego (that’s a big one)
  • Pacing yourself for the longer-term
  • Understanding what high quality looks like
  • Experience collaborating with a lot of other people
  • An interest in a long-term position where you can build a career, instead of looking for the next raise or promotion. There is nothing wrong with that, but it tends to be a greater focus on the younger employee.
It's no coincidence that this closely maps to the principles in the Agile Manifesto!

I’m not saying that some young people don’t have this, but someone that’s a little more experienced WITH PEOPLE, not code, tend to have the 10,000 hours of experience in these skills that are still being learned by younger, newer developers.
So, don’t sell yourself short, your age is an asset. There area lot of smart people in the SW industry, and the competition is fierce, but you do have a few things in your corner, and you can exploit them to help equalize the conditions of employment.
Good luck!
Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software leader!

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.

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What are DOD and DOR in Scrum, and Why Should I Use Them?

What is DOD and DOR in Scrum, and why should I use them?

Ceremonies and techniques like “Definition of Done,” and “Definition of Ready” are common across many different types of agile teams and frameworks, not just scrum, they are often implemented as an “agile best practice.” Neither of these are new to the software business - frameworks like CMMI and PMBOK have been using these, with different names, for decades.

They are both a type of “validation” and are quite valuable.  And positioning them as "ceremonies" allows them to act as a control so that all team members agree to move forward.  Good stuff, and much needed.

Definition of Ready, or DOR, and sometimes called "Ready for Work," is a set of criteria that must be satisfied in order for an Epic or a Story to be accepted by the team. The story should be instantly “actionable,” and ready to build. This happens BEFORE you build it, so you can think of this as “pre-validation.”
According to the SW Engineering Institute, over 70% of defects are injected at the point of requirements acceptance by the team, mostly because they fail to be validated in one or more of the established criteria. The most common method for doing this is INVEST:
  1. Is the Story Independent?
  2. Is the story Negotiable (with the team, product owner, etc)
  3. Is the Story Valuable?
  4. Is the Story Estimable?
  5. Is the Story sized correctly (or “small”)?
  6. Is the Story Testable?
Other companies use SMART Goals, or their own set of criteria. Some companies use a meeting like “Three Amigos,” or “Three Diverse Humans” to do this as well. Boeing uses the CAM method (“Cranial Analysis Method”), which is like Three Amigos but with people who say they’re really smart :)
The important part is that they address the question “Is this a GOOD story?”
Definition of Done, or DOD, is the team’s agreement on what it means to complete a story. This happens AFTER you build it, so you can think of it as “post-validation.”
  1. Typical criterion for DOD are:
  2. The Story is Tested
  3. All defects are fixed
  4. The Product Owner has approved it
  5. The documentation is complete
Developing a good, solid set of criteria to validate stories both BEFORE and AFTER you build them is a basic function of software engineering, and there use will help to eliminate defects earlier.
There is more information about these, and other agile ceremonies, at agilecxo.org.

Good luck!


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Which book is a good start on CMMI, coming from a Scrum/agile background?

Which book is a good start for learning about CMMI coming from a Scrum/agile background? ~ Quora User

Dear Readers – We've been having a lot of fun on Quora.com recently. For those who are new to the social media platform, I've found it to be a place for high-level discourse about (among other interesting topics) engineering strategy and software process improvement. Below is today's response. Enjoy! ~ the CMMI Appraiser

Dear Quora User,

If you’re looking for the definitive “CMMI-Scrum” book, commissioned by the CMMI Institute, you can download my book “The Guide to CMMI and Scrum” free from the CMMI Institute site, or from the Broadsword web site.


Here’s a review with links to a free download: A GUIDE TO SCRUM AND CMMI®: IMPROVING AGILE PERFORMANCE WITH CMMI.

It’s filled with tables and examples for all types of Agile ceremonies and techniques.

Have fun!

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

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.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Using Agile on a Waterfall project – What are the challenges?

What are the main challenges of using an Agile methodology on a Waterfall project? ~ Quora User

Dear Readers – Below is my response to a question posted on Quora.com by an Agile Leader who is thinking about using Agile methods in a "waterfall" environment - which can mean different things to different organizations, which I detail below. Regular users of Quora.com know this social media platform as a place for high-level discourse about engineering strategy and software process improvement, and the conversation has been especially thought-provoking recently. Enjoy! ~ the CMMI Appraiser

Dear Quora User,

The agile community has done a great job at defining and branding agile frameworks like Scrum and XP, although technically, they’re not methodologies. But they do provide great guidance for how to do things, what the roles are, and in what sequence actions are to take place.


“Waterfall,” is more ambiguous. There really isn’t a “waterfall community,” or a methodology that is called waterfall - although it is generally thought of as phased, task oriented, and planned for the project duration. Because of its use of project managers, strong oversight, metrics, and reporting, it’s often thought of (by agilistas anyway) as “low trust,” where “agile” is thought of (by agilistas) as “high trust,” due the the focus on self-organization and relying on the people who are doing the work to make important decisions.

A lot of people think they are implementing “agile” by adopting some techniques (ceremonies) such as the daily standup, or using a structure like a backlog for requirements. Some implement a tool like Jira (Atlassian), or TFS (Microsoft) and then call themselves “agile.” In the real world, “Agile” is a philosophical approach to running an organization based on a set of core values that include things such as “Transparency,” “Collaboration,” “Fail-fast” and others. Once an organization establishes their values (and people subscribe to them), then a set of methods, tools, and frameworks are established that align or trace to them.

For instance, “daily standup” traces to transparency and collaboration. “Sprints” trace to “fail-fast,” and so on. Scrum and XP are good examples of frameworks that have done a good job of aligning with agile values. Opinions vary, but there a some people who say SAFe (Scaled Agile) doesn’t do as good a job - one reason it is resonating so well with the government!

So, if by “waterfall” you mean “low trust” and “command-and-control,” you can use all the agile ceremonies you want, but you’ll struggle and not get a lot of value from them. If you mean that your work is “phased” with project mangers, and you have a strong culture based on agile values, you “are agile,” although you are not using Scrum or XP (for example). It’s possible to use waterfall techniques and still be agile, although it’s not very common in the industry. It’s also important to realize that Scrum does not equal agile, although it is a manifestation of agile values, if implemented properly.

If you choose to run a project using “waterfall,” but you want to encourage teams running their sub-projects to use Scrum, you are free to do that (in fact, I recommend it), but it all starts with leadership, who need to demonstrate a culture of agility and ensure the values are adopted by the organization - regardless of the techniques you use.

Good luck!

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

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.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Where can I get CMMI V2.0-related content for studying?

Where could I get CMMI V2.0-related content for studying? I can’t get it because it is paid. I am working as a CMMI implementer in an IT company. ~ Quora User 

Dear Readers – recently I've been answering questions about performance improvement, CMMI, and Agile from engineering and software professionals and leaders, on Quora.com. Below is my response to a CMMI adopter who wants to be understand the new Model upgrade, CMMI V2.0. Enjoy! ~ the CMMI Appraiser

Dear Quora User, the only place to get the new version of CMMI V2.0 in online format. There is no longer a book that you can purchase or download. Neither are there CMMI-DEV or CMMI-SVC "constellations," just one model with different “views." These are some of the many changes you'll find in the new Model upgrade.


The reason for this is because the CMMI Institute has moved to an online subscription model, where you can only see the detailed content if you have an annual license. The price on this has been fluctuating as they experiment, but it’s somewhere between $400-1500US per user, depending on what you are buying.

The new CMMI is separated into two sections - protected content (anything that describes the meaning of the practices, including examples) and un-protected content (names of the Practice Areas (new terminology) and Practices. So you can see the list - just not what THEY think the meaning of each item is! For that you must buy a license.

Here are a couple of new things to get you started:

  • Process Areas are now Practice Areas
  • The sub-Practices have been eliminated
  • The Generic Practices have been eliminated
  • There are new Practice Areas for Governance and Implementation Infrastructure to replace and enhance the content from the Generic Practices
  • New CMMI appraisals will see the CMMI Institute determining the sample, not the Lead Appraiser or Sponsor
  • Each Practice Area has multiple levels within it (Practice Groups)

I’ve written pretty extensively on CMMI V2.0 here my blog, and have also done a number of videos (including interviews with the CMMI Institute’s Chief Architect) at CMMI-TV.com.

For more in-depth learning about CMMI V2.0, check out our upcoming CMMI V2.0 webinar, "CMMI V2.0 Is Here! Why It's the Best CMMI Yet.

Also consider signing up for a CMMI V2.0 Training class (where you will get the license as part of the training).

Good luck!

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

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.

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

Monday, August 20, 2018

Large organizations adopting agile: How well is it going?

Jeff, in your exploration of over 300 organizations, a lot of them are the very big ones. When we look at the adoption profile, it's the late majority, the laggards, that are getting into Agile now. How well is that going? ~ Shane H.

[Editor's Note: During the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will share excerpts from a recent conversation with Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods on the “Engineering Culture by InfoQ” podcast about leadership, and the kind of leadership that is needed in today’s Agile world. Today’s blog post is the first installment. Listen to the full interview at http://bit.ly/infoqpodcast]

Well, Shane, this isn't a popular opinion, but based on the empirical data we've collected, it's not going well. The marketing of agility is doing far better than the reality of agility, for a lot of different reasons. I always say it's the early adopters who kind of set the tone for adoption.

Of course, the early adopters of Agile tended to be smaller, more compact organizations, and subsections of companies or organizations that were trying Agile. They had great success with Scrum and XP and some of those things. But as Agile has scaled, and as more and more big companies have adopted Agile, it hasn't been as successful.


The reason? Start with the culture. It’s the culture of the company that drives the behaviors of the people. Small startups, small subsections of teams, tend to have very collaborative, transparent cultures. But look at large organizations like General Motors, the Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, and Nationwide Insurance. All of these organizations have 300 or 400 teams working together, and the culture of those teams is the culture of their organization.

I’ll use General Motors as kind of a metaphor because there are a lot of big companies like them. Why are General Motors’ software teams very document-heavy and very process-heavy with lots of low trust oversight? Because that's how the company operates. It has nothing to do with their software teams. It has everything to do with the culture of the company.

The same has been true with the CMMI. The CMMI has a reputation of being kind of a heavyweight process-burden model. But the only reason people think that is because the early adopters were General Electric, General Motors, Lockheed Martin and the DoD. These are organizations were already heavy, overburdened, over-processed companies, so when they adopted CMMI, they made it a process-heavy model. And when they adopted Agile, what do you think they did? They made it heavy, and over-burdened.

In my work assessing the agile performance of large organizations like these, I’ve found that they all have Project Managers that do tasking. They use Microsoft Project. They do a lot of things that you would think were Agile anti-patterns, or antithetical to agile values. They all do them!

It's only the smallest companies that are running Scrum projects using the Scrum roles as defined in the Scrum Guide. Most larger companies have Project Managers, Architects, Directors, Process Quality, and audits. They have all the things that you would say agile teams would never have. I observed this early on, and said, “Hey, there's a culture clash.”

I'm sure your audience knows what a “type mismatch” is in software, Shane. We call this phenomenon an “organizational type mismatch,” when the values and philosophy of the company are at odds with the values and philosophies of Agility.

When you look at the core agile values – collaboration, transparency, fail-fast, and so on – you see they are directly antithetical to the corporate philosophies of a company like General Electric, for example, and other large organizations that are very much command-and-control, low-trust, document-focused, audit-focused, etc. We noticed right away that senior management -- CIOs and CTOs especially -- were keen on becoming more Agile. But they weren't so keen on changing the corporate culture. That itself was an impediment to their success, and continues to be today. That's why I say it's not going well.

# # #

I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Shane Hastie on the InfoQ podcast. We'll be talking more about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

http://bit.ly/infoqpodcast

For those interested in a deeper dive into learning about Agile Leadership, please visit agilecxo.org for white papers, blog posts, podcasts and performance models to help software and engineering executives guide their organizations to be more agile, from top to bottom.

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

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.

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





Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What's the best way to provide guidance for Scrum teams?

What's the best way of making sure that teams working on different projects follow the same Scrum process? Would you use a rigid approach or allow a degree of flexibility for each team? ~ Quora User

Dear Readers – Engineering strategy and software process improvement are popular topics on Quora.com, and I try to go in and answer questions as frequently as I can. Below is my response to an Agile Leader who wants to be more successful with Scrum. Enjoy! ~ the CMMI Appraiser

Dear Quora User,

Scrum, one of several popular frameworks that fall under the “agile” umbrella, is an “empirical process model.” This means, for this context, that teams learn and improve as they go, and may end up with different approaches over time, as compared to other teams.

Providing Scrum teams with guiderails 

The very nature of empirical models means that a “rigid” approach is not acceptable, and would corrupt the very architecture you’ve adopted - probably leading to negative results.

That doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t be provided with guidance (sometimes called "guiderails" in the community) on how the company expects them to perform.

Like a great musician, artist, or writer, the best performing scrum teams have MASTERED the art of scrum before they go off an make a lot of changes, versus the worst garage band, that just turns up the volume and celebrates their rebelliousness.

One performance model that is gaining in popularity is the Agile Performance Holarchy (APH) from AgileCxO.org. This set of guiderails is intended to influence leadership to set expectations of performance using a very disciplined approach, but then encourages teams to improve, adjust, learn, and modify based on their needs - but only AFTER mastering the craft. Makes sense.

Good luck!

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

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.

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