Archive for the ‘lead appraiser’ Category

Amazing Parallels

Monday, December 1st, 2008

image A recent post to the Agile Thoughts blog caused me to have a serious case of déjà vu

First, I will start by saying that I’m not going to take a position on the content of the post.  Namely, I’m not going to weigh in on whether or not Scrum is valid, whether or not Mary Poppendieck’s points or approach are appropriate.

The purpose of this post is to make a suggestion.

Go ahead and (re)read that post. 


  • "Scrum" with "CMMI",
  • "CSM" or "Scrum Master" with "Lead Appraiser", and
  • "Lean" with "Agile". 

My favorite line in the entire post is this one:

"… spent 90% of her time cleaning up after bad Scrum implementations…"

And an associated comment that noted:

"…the difference between the good and the bad ones depends mainly on who’s doing it…"

I don’t feel like taking the time right now to ponder what it means (I’ll probably do it anyway after posting), but what I find fascinating is that people are now debating various agile/lean concepts in the way the debate continues to fester about CMMI/agile.  And, those in the agile/lean debate are recognizing that it’s not enough to have a named method or model, and it’s not enough to be "certified" to do something to really "get it", but that there is real need for understanding the underlying concepts and intentions and for implementing from that basis otherwise there is risk of "bad implementations".

What every perspective in these discussions is (hopefully) saying is that there is no one "silver bullet".  That addressing the issue of great products, ecstatic customers and happy teams requires more than superficial application of someone else’s ideas.  Requires more than one set of principles, when hiring an "expert" requires serious due diligence and interviewing skills, and requires a lot of hard work and soul-searching to reach the "comfort zone" of every project and team.

Again, I’m not pointing fingers and I don’t want to accuse one person of saying something they’re not, nor do I want to label an entire field of people with any one person’s perspective.  With that said, the following is drawn from my own experience and I’m merely reminded of it thanks to Tobias Mayer’s post.

Many people now finding themselves defending Scrum — against bad implementations and other abuses — are saying that it’s not anything inherent in Scrum that’s bad.  My guess is that many of these people are (or were) also among those who vilify (vilified?) CMMI.  Accusing CMMI of evils that were perpetrated by too many goobers inappropriately implementing and appraising it.  Vilifying CMMI (can be read: Scrum) by juxtaposing implementation with content.  These evils are just as much not CMMI’s "fault" as bad Scrum implementations are Scrum’s "fault".

In fact, our recent SEI Technical Note, spoke to this very issue.  I guess the point to this post is to say to those folks in the Scrum and Lean communities: Welcome Aboard!  Let’s start some constructive discussion together on defeating "silver-bullet-ism" in software development.

Whew! *That* was close!

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Well, I’d like to say it was "nothing", but really, I was sweating bullets!

Since I consider readers of this blog to be among my more friendly professional acquaintances, I thought I’d let you in on something that has not yet been released to the general public.

See here for an as-yet to be released announcement article/press-release-style about my becoming an SEI-Certified High Maturity Lead Appraiser.

The actual release might change slightly as the PR folks work on it, but you’ll get the gist.

One fun thing that had to be left on the editing floor was a quote from a technical member of one of my client’s staff when he asked, "… how did you get into this field?  I mean, you actually have a personality!"

The techie was worried I might be offended, but I thought it was pretty funny, and so did PR… but it didn’t make the cut for the article.

Here’s some insight into what it was like:

The oral exam gives high marks for noting very specific terms, and is structured in some way (like the CMMI model itself) that lends itself to recursiveness (not exactly redundancy).  Towards the last half hour, my seasonal cold, my lack of sleep, and my indigestion had all caught-up with me.  My brain was empty, I couldn’t tell what I’d said previously and what I still didn’t say and I couldn’t pull certain ideas from my brain to save my life.

Last impressions are often just as memorable as first impressions.  In my case, I recall that I nailed the earlier parts of the exam to the wall.  Not just hitting the target but obliterating it.  But when the end drew near, I felt like I’d lost that clarity of thought, that I was going in circles.  Not knowing when I’d said enough or when I was digging my own grave, I started searching for ideas on the blank neutral hotel walls hoping my eye-movement would stimulate new recollections to re-open my log-jammed head to what I knew I knew.

At best, I felt I was squarely on the fence.  I’m grateful to the guys who administered the exam for translating my verbal spaghetti into thoughts that must’ve communicated my intentions even though at the time I felt my 22-month old had more effective speech patterns.


Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

A new Q &A have been added to the CMMIFAQ.
Answered is the not so trivial question: How do we pick a consultant or lead appraiser?

This question has come up a number of times. Not usually in such a straight-forward way. Actually, it often comes up in the form of something like:

Doesn’t the variation from lead appraiser to lead appraiser in model interpretation and what will be considered acceptable appraisal evidence make the model bereft of meaning and value?

It’s a legitimate question. How can a model really provide any guidance when there’s so much room for interpretation of the practices and what would be accepted as evidence by an appraiser during an appraisal?

Well, let’s go back to a basic and fundamental root: it’s a m o d e l not a standard or a process. (See this post, please, for more on that.)

And, as such, models are both incomplete and only representative of a particular reality, at best. Some people are just plain better at working with models than others. I’m beginning to believe it’s a talent. And, I’m not sure whether it’s a skill that can be taught — at least not quickly.

I’m still working on how to assess/interview a prospective consultant/lead appraiser for their “talent” at working with the CMMI model. The challenge for most organizations in need of a CMMI consultant/lead appraiser is that their knowledge and comfort level with the (CMMI) model may not be sufficient to recognize “good” answers from “poor” answers — in the context of the given organization, of course.

If you’ve got ideas, please let me know.

(Though… come to think of it… maybe that’s a handbook I ought to write!?)