Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

SEPG North America 2013: Why You Want to Be There!

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Why Do You Want to Be There?
This year, the conference is significantly re-orienting itself towards END USERS. Previous SEPG conferences had a lot of useful information, especially for experienced change agents and consultants in the field.

This year, the focus is on up-and-coming disciplines, established success strategies, and most importantly, direct business performance benefit of using CMMI. In fact, what we’ve seen over the years is that CMMI is working extremely well with other forms of improvement as well as with existing defined service delivery and product development approaches — whether agile, lean, traditional, customer-focused, innovation-focused, or some combination.

CMMI provides a specific framework that is both a way to focus attention on specific needs while also benchmarking progress. Instead of flailing around trying to find where to put improvement energies, or waiting for a long-term traditional approach of process exploration and decomposition, CMMI takes a lot of the guesswork out by leveraging decades of experience and laying out very specific goals to seek to improve performance.

CMMI users have reported their productivity to increase magnitudes of order, costs drop in double digits, and their ability to cut through thick process jungles more quickly than being left alone to their own devices.

Yes, I’m speaking and presenting at SEPG 2013, but that’s the least relevant reason to attend. Come because you want to see what others are doing to marry CMMI with existing (or new to you) concepts; come because you want to hear from other end-users what they’re doing with CMMI to improve performance. And, most of all, come because you want to get and stay ahead of your competitors who aren’t using CMMI nearly as effectively as you will after attending.

SEPG North America: The CMMI Conference is coming soon, but there is still time to register.

This year’s conference program will include content perfect for you if you are:

  • Beginning to implement–or considering implementation of—CMMI
  • Seeking resources and best practices for integrating CMMI and Agile practices
  • Interested in taking your process improvement game up a level
  • A fan of rivers, boats, bridges or baseball !

Check out the conference agenda here: and when you register, enter the promotional code "Entinex" to save $100 on your fee. (Or just click this link and the discount will be applied for you.)

Book before September 1st to get a discount on your hotel room, as well.

Get the details on the website ( and email with any questions.

A real "class act"

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

I learn so much from failure it’s hard to ignore the good that comes from it.

This week I parted company with a client long before their goals were reached.

Sadly, I knew from the start they would be a challenge and made the mistake of ignoring the warning signs.  Never again.  Honest!

This entry is as much for coaches and consultants as it is for teams, staff, management and leadership.

There are several tell-tale indicators of success and/or failure.  In our own ways and in their own contexts, experienced coaches and consultants know what these indicators are.  Well-rounded, experienced, and seasoned practitioners within companies know them too.  In fact, most people know them instinctively, somehow.  I can therefore safely say that whether it’s through experience or instinct, we all know many of the same indicators.  In fact, we can probably sum-up every indicator in one word: Attitude.

So, yes, Jeff Keller’s famous self-help book, "Attitude is Everything", applies as well.  In organizations, "attitude" is frequently interchangeable or encompassed by company "culture".  And yes, attitude is a derivative of culture.  But sometimes culture is harder to pinpoint than attitudes.  Attitude shows up in your interactions with the company from the very start of your prospecting dance.

Here are some attitudes you may encounter and whether or not they spell greater odds of success or failure:

Failure-prone attitudes:

  • Hassling about price/cost/time but expecting the same scope and performance outcomes.
  • Focusing on deadlines and schedules instead of real results.
  • Not owning the work and expecting off-site outsiders to invent working approaches.
  • Shallow goals that aren’t S.M.A.R.T.
  • Mistaking a task for an outcome or goal.
  • Ignoring, denying, and filtering information that indicates problems.
  • Poor communication (which often starts with poor listening skills).
  • No allocation of explicit time and/or resources to make improvements.
  • Failing to recognize the importance of the right people in the right roles for the right reasons.
  • Delivering materials for review with no lead-time for turn-around.
  • Persisting in propagating bureaucratic policies despite the obvious lack of value-add.
  • Executives who are mostly (if not exclusively) involved in decisions involving budgets but not in making changes.
  • Repeatedly using external influences as excuses to not make important changes.
  • Assuming a victimization attitude instead of owning up to their circumstances.
  • Failure to learn and apply new ideas — even after being presented with the benefits of those ideas.
  • Management by motivation 1.0 or 2.0

Success-leading attitudes:

  • Focus on results not the cost of getting them.
  • Clear, S.M.A.R.T. goals.
  • Executive involvement and ownership of leading the changes.
  • Respect and appreciation for everyone’s contribution and effort.
  • Active concern for overtime, unplanned work, and defects.
  • Accounting and planning for everything that takes time by everyone involved.
  • Taking full ownership for all the work (irrespective of the “divisions of labor” as seen by the customers).
  • Clear-eyed view of effort and not planning around "best case only" scenarios.
  • Ability to appreciate the need for non-technical, non-managerial skills in the roles of leading change.
  • Seeing beyond the surface: A desire to learn and understand the meaning behind the work, not just following the specific language of the work.
  • Dealing with people as people and not numbers.

My best clients have always had direct, clear and unambiguous evidence of two things:

  1. S.M.A.R.T. Goals, and
  2. Executive involvement in making the changes happen — not just lip service and budget authorization.  This usually took the form of the top leader (or 1-step away) taking personal involvement in not just setting direction, but in working through the best way to make things happen with the people who will be most affected.  (What does NOT count is a “top” leader with a purely administrative role and no executive accountability or responsibility.)

In experiencing the failure with this client, I admit to learning about at least one critical oversight on my part (there were others but this one takes top spot).  As we were interviewing each other, I failed to interrogate the leaders of the company for specific improvement goals.  The only "goals" they came to me with was to make their processes "leaner" and to attain a CMMI Maturity Level 3 rating with leaner processes.  Which turned out to really mean little more than to replace their heavy-handed compliance-oriented approach with a set of processes more projects could comply with more easily.  Again, note that they were still about "compliance".

Despite claims to the contrary, I didn’t fully realize until well into the engagement that compliance was still their primary attitude — at least among the people who were charged with overseeing the process assets for the entire organization. 

During the engagement, I repeatedly worked to identify meaningful improvement goals that being "lean" could help them attain.  I then created a strategy that would bring them closer to these goals and presented it to the majority of the executives.

Despite wide agreement on the goals and the strategy, when it came to rolling out the necessary changes, it was met the same-old resistance to change and fears that I knew spelled doom.

Nonetheless, I had high hopes for this organization so I decided I would bring them around by modeling the behavior I was trying to help them see.  A few people caught on but, alas, not the people who held sway in the organization.  Our mutual falling-out began early when it became apparent that desire among the leadership to achieve a maturity rating without upsetting the apple cart was overshadowing the desire to actually reach the performance goals being a leaner organization would achieve.

Notwithstanding, there were other tell-tale signs from the list above that this organization didn’t have the attitude to make the changes necessary.  I won’t belabor you with the complete saga.  Instead, I’ll return to my point about this entry.
You as coaches, consultants, and staff can’t want to better than your leadership is prepared to be.  The signs are all around you.  Pay attention to the signs early.  You will save yourself a lot of time, heartache and frustration.  If you believe you don’t have enough experience to justify your powers of observation, then trust your instincts.  Is the organization defensive about their entrenched position on their circumstance?  Do they make excuses instead of setting goals?  Are the goals devoid of any real results? 

You don’t even have to go that far.  How are you treated as a person, as a professional, is about all you really need to know about whether or not there’s a hope that things can get better.  If you’re not appreciated, if your organization is willfully blind to the things that cause you grief, if you see signs that tell you the organization lacks "class", you don’t need 20 years of experience telling you you’re right to know you’re right.  This organization is doomed to mediocrity.  Is that the kind of organization you want to be associated with?

I don’t, and, I won’t ever be again.

Happy 2011!! Don’t let mediocrity be a “goal”!

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

With many people and business executives making New Year’s resolutions, today’s topic is about goals and how setting the wrong goals can often undermine becoming high performance.

For example, a business *goal* of +/-10% budget/schedule? What’s wrong with this picture?  What’s it saying about an organization who makes a business *goal* out of being within 10% of their budget and schedule?

Does it give customers a warm fuzzy that a business knows what it’s doing when *their* *GOAL* is to come within 10% of what they said they’d do?  *THAT’S* supposed to make you feel good?

Shouldn’t goals be something to aspire to?  A challenge?  And, if getting within 10% of the budget or schedule is an aspiration or a challenge, that’s supposed to be *goodness*?

Such goals are nothing more than an aspiration to be mediocreAn admission that the organization actually has little confidence in their ability to deliver on commitments, to hit targets.

That’s one way to look at it.

Another is to say (what’s probably more accurate) that their estimates are a joke, and that when the “estimate” becomes the allocated budget, what they’re saying is that they’re praying the estimate won’t screw them.  Furthermore, it’s a likely reflection that they really don’t know their organization’s true capability in a “show me the data” kind of way.  They don’t have data on lead time, cycle time/takt time, touch time, productivity, throughput, defect/muda or other performance-revealing measures.

And so, without real data to instill confidence in capabilities, setting lame goals to hit targets is like many other things such organizations do: they go about business without a clear understanding of what they need to do or what it’s going to take to get the job done.  That way, when they don’t hit their targets they can just blame the innocent or find some other excuse for remaining mediocre.  After all, how exactly would such an organization expect or plan to hit their targets?  Come on!  Let’s be real.  They have no idea! 

Either way, making it a *goal* to do something we *expect* them to do is rather lame!

This year, don’t make lame resolutions, instead, come up with a strategy and a plan to to attain *confidence* in being able to hit specific SMART targets.  Then, grow that confidence and narrow the spread of the targets.