Archive for the ‘Judah Mogilensky’ Category

SEPG North America – Day 2

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Sorry, folks, no fun (or not-so-fun as you may prefer) video today.  Not even any pictures I took at SEPG.  In fact, as far as today went, I don’t have much to report from the sessions.

Again, I missed the plenary session.  This time on account of a phone meeting with a client in another time zone.  So, my first session to attend was the other of my two collaborative efforts with Judah Mogilensky on SCAMPI Evidence from Agile Projects. As anything with Judah in it, it went rather nicely.  Many generous bits of feedback.  I felt really good about my role, and Judah was his usual incomparable self.

My friend and colleague, Eileen Forrester of the SEI was kind enough to give me some supremely powerful feedback.  I am, and will be, grateful for it.  I was then roped into shop talk about CMMI for Services in advance of the 2nd half of the orientation workshop I’m helping her with.  Thus, my missing out on my buddy, Jeff Dalton’s, excellent (so I’m told from many reports) job with Encapsulated Process Objects.

One point made to me later by another of the few “agile-friendly” lead appraisers, Neil Potter, about a bit of content in the presentation does require some follow-up.  In the presentation we short-cutted the details on a discussion regarding the potential design aspects of test-driven development with an engineering design.  I should say that TDD is NOT the same as a design, but that depending on how TDD is planned and performed, it can include design-like attributes which could accomplish design expectations in the engineering process areas of CMMI-DEV.  So don’t anyone out there go around blabbing some “Hillel said TDD is Design!” crap.  Mm’K?

After lunch, my job was to keep people from falling asleep with a session on Love and Marriage: CMMI and Agile Need Each Other.  From the response, I think it went went rather well.  I, personally, was quite pleased with how it came off from a “talk per slide” metric.  A good friend, Tami Zemel, later admitted that she “takes back” her earlier criticism of Monday’s presentation.  She said it had too many words and didn’t believe me when I told her why.  She complemented not only the picture-centricity of today’s pitch but also the delivery, style, and content.  That was very generous, thank you.

From then to the end of the day, I spent scheming, strategizing, shmoozing, and networking with too many people to mention.  (No offense.)  A client who came to the conference (who never holds back and only inflates the truth when it’s funny to do so) got very serious when a prospect I’d recently met off-the-cuff asked whether he’d recommend me.  I won’t repeat his answer because it really was just crazy nice.  Today’s interesting photo is in his honor.  (And also because my boys love transportation.)

The last “session” was a Peer 2 Peer double-header on the topic I mentioned on Monday which I co-created with Michele Moss.  She and I are also on the SEPG Conference Program Committee.  We used the feedback and other data from the Peer 2 Peer as input to a retrospective on this year’s conference, which will be used for strategies for next year’s conference in Portland, OR.

You can also read an entry I gave to the SEI for their official blog about my impressions of this year’s conference-goers.

Dinner conversation back at the hotel with Michele was back on the subject of our Peer 2 Peer session.  Net result: We single-handedly wrote the 1-3-5 year plan for all SEPG’s.  Or at least we think so.  ;-)

SEPG North America – Day 1

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

With yesterday being the "tutorial day" ahead of the conference, today was the official kick-off day of the conference sessions.

Morning started off in a laid-back way.  Even better than sleeping until 7am was having breakfast with Pat O’Toole,  Just a never-ending fount of wisdom and experience.  Truly, if I ever needed an injection of fresh ideas for my practice, I’d start with him.  We are all blessed with different advantages, one (or two?) of Pat’s is having two brothers who are both behavioral psychologists from whom he siphons oodles (technical term) of techniques.

IMGP0952 After missing the plenary sessions, my first attended session was David Anderson’s CMMI Through a Lean Lens.  Excellent stuff!  What I enjoyed most about it was how easily and convincingly one can see the benefits and accessibility of high maturity behavior with very little data and no artificial, convoluted process models.  Nothing more than a few simple development "states" and a calendar.  The richness of something as simple as a cumulative flow diagram was very well presented and, I believe, quickly grasped by the audience. 

David had some suggestions for CMMI v2.0 to accommodate "continuous flow" instead of "transactional processes".  He also suggested that continuous flow lent itself more to perceiving development as a service rather than a discrete project effort.  It was very telling (to me) how eager the audience is growing over just a couple of years for this sort of data that they were raptly engaged in David’s content and seemed unconcerned for over-staying the room’s allocated time for his talk.

Next up was Judah Mogilensky’s proposal for a new CMMI process area called Fantasy Development.  He started out with a brief overview of an earlier proposed process area, Blame Allocation, which has strong strategic ties to the Fantasy Development process area.  Of many, one priceless anecdote was, "What’s with all this stuff about managing requirements and planning, and measuring progress?  Why can’t CMMI have anything in it that we actually do?!?!"

Sadly, he’s not joking.  He’s heard this before as have I.  Not realizing what they’re admitting, people who don’t understand CMMI are missing the connection between CMMI and their real work.  Unfortunately, whether they admit it or not, many organizations have very well-established and highly productive processes for allocating blame and developing fantasies for which Judah’s proposed PAs are meant to help improve. 

As with earlier incarnations of these proposals, Judah made an important point: any area of work important to an organization can be improved with and measured against improvement practices and goals of their own creation.  Nothing says CMMI must be the only source of improvement ideas.

Since he would be leaving later in the day, I spent a while after lunch with David to discuss ideas on lean and CMMI.  It’s becoming clear that the world cannot wait for SEI or annual LSSC events to bring these topics together.  There’s just too much synergy, both in terms of maturing organizational processes (from both a CMMI and non-CMMI perspective) and in terms of affecting culture and behavior that enables and promotes the quantification of these improvements. 

Something I observed on the Savannah River on my way back to my hotel was blissfully (in a geeky way) appropriate for discussing continuous flow with David.  (Watch the video if you’re interested in that.)  He came to the same conclusion as I did, and, it was exactly what the deck hand on the ferry said happens in such situations.

David and I went to see Pat O’Toole’s session on "Maturity Level 4 Results in a Lot of BS."  Never at a loss for a compelling title, Pat’s topic had to do with behavior, not what you might think.IMGP0954 His example walked through 10 behaviors of high maturity teams that were exhibited by an appraisal team by the mere tracking and projecting of time during a particular appraisal task near the end of an appraisal.  His example (masterfully, of course) demonstrated simple measurement and analysis traits with profound effects on both performance and behavior while they were being tabulated in real time.  It was like watching magic.  Not in the "unbelievable" sense, but in the "pure beauty of simplicity" sense.  David and I made quick note that Pat would be a must in any sort of Lean-CMMI event.

The conference gala reception ended the official activities.  The simple movie-theater theme included rooms where two modern films shot in Savannah were playing: Forrest Gump, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and a movie-style.concession stand full of popcorn, candy bars, nachos & cheese and Cracker Jack.

Not all rosy

Although I led the reviewer group for agile content for this year’s conference, I was not able to commit to attending all the agile-related presentations.  So I am making it a point to query people attending these sessions for their immediate reactions.  Reports from several people about presentations and tutorial content on "agile" topics is revealing a disappointing condition.  Namely, that the "dark side" of the force is still strong in much of the content people are communicating.  Several manifestations are cropping up including poor understanding of true "agility" and "lean" concepts and practices, re-purposing traditional approaches but calling them "agile" or "lean" by merely eliminating the obvious waste, and diluting the benefits of CMMI to enable achievement of ratings by teams using agile.

What’s most disappointing is that this content is supposedly the "best" of the crop of submitted abstracts which tells me that we need a better topic submission and review process.  Namely, that what we ask for when proposing topics needs to be improved, and, how we review the proposals needs to be changed.  A few years ago, the conference committee attempted an overall broad-based improvement for similar reasons but only came up with increasing the word-count on abstracts and asking for "take-aways" for each proposal.  I guess this falls under the category of, "just because a little isn’t good, doesn’t mean more is better."

We need a better process.  I’ll be providing that feedback at tomorrow’s conference retrospective.

Day’s Conclusion

One thing was abundantly clear from today: I was being given glimpses of the same idea over and over from many facets.  That idea was about behavior.  Behavior is central to improvement.  End of discussion.

Culture will follow behavior, whether good or bad.  People’s responses to input will be manifested in their behavior and that will be in response to the stimulus.  I’ve known the central criticality of behavior in the continuum of improvement.  However, the key "nugget" for me today was that it’s surprisingly simple to influence behavior in positive, productive, value-added ways.  And, it’s also not as hard as we might think to turn "bad" behavior around with similarly simple, yet powerful examples of the benefits we want when we conduct ourselves with the behaviors that achieve them.

My conversation with Pat at breakfast, David’s cumulative flow diagram, Judah’s tongue-in-cheek process areas, the port’s fast clearing of their container backlog, Pat’s "BS" presentation, and other side-conversations I won’t detail here, all orbited on this one theme: behavior and how we affect it is the future of business performance improvement and we’d better get on that ferry right now.

SEPG North America – Tutorial Day

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

So today started out with a bus ride from the hotel to the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center rather than the expected ferry ride over the river.  A container ship in the port managed to get damaged and leaked fuel into the Savannah River on Sunday immediately closing the river to non-clean-up traffic, including the otherwise convenient cross-river ferry.

Be that as it may, the bus ride gave me an opportunity to connect with Michele Moss from Booz-Allen, Hamilton.  A kindred spirit in things related to "the future of process".  She and I had plans to meet anyway some time today to discuss ideas about "bringing ‘younger people’ into the field" and a related topic, addressing modern-day issues such as cyber, agile and value as these concerns are manifested in processes and process improvement.

First order of the day after registration was to co-create what I perceived as a rather successful (and well-attended) tutorial with Judah Mogilensky on a tailoring for SCAMPI appraisals that increases efficiency, collaboration, and reduces time and cost, we called "One-Stop Shopping".  Immediately following, Michele and I met with Bob Rosenstein, the events and conferences manager at SEI.  David Anderson, just arriving to the venue, was a very beneficial addition to the discussion, conveying his experience with creating communities and conferences specific to a community such as his LSSCDana Hanzlik and Danny Pipitone from SEI’s PR group also sat in on the conversation.  About the only definitive expectation to come out of this meeting (other than our commitment to come to the retrospective with with data from the Peer-to-Peer), was that SEI will be open to more closely tying into other gatherings.  Not bad since we had no expectations going in, and, even if we had, it wouldn’t have been reasonable to have expected any commitments.

Much came up in just under an hour with Bob.  We’re planning to include bits of this topic in our end-of-conference committee retrospective on Thursday.  Part of what will feed into that retrospective will be a Peer-to-Peer session on Wednesday afternoon that Michele and I will be co-creating and was planned with David’s help.  Our Peer-to-Peer is being billed as, "Where do we go from here? Value, Agile, Cyber, and all things Future Processes."

The mind-map of the problem-space was really intriguing.  This will not be an easy matter.

After a conference lunch with David and Michele, we split up and I attended the invitation-only advanced overview of the changes to "high maturity" to CMMI v1.3.  Good stuff, really.  Way too geek for here.

After getting as much as I cared to get from the high maturity campfire (which coincided with the moment I sensed my lunch moved far enough down my digestive tract to make room (literally) for a run) I decided to go back to my hotel to squeeze a run in before the evening gorge-fest that includes the opening of the trade-show floor, a board meeting, and later, a surprise opportunity to attend a special reception, all of which were to include food (and in order of continually improving quality at that).

Before I could get back across the river, I nabbed an opportunity to comment on a frequent occurrence here, on the Savannah River:

Several lovely hours later of socializing (albeit, mostly work-related) I’m back at the room planning my day ahead.