Archive for the ‘understanding’ Category

Where to start. . . .

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

So much is going on that what’s been keeping me from posting for over two months has pretty much been a lack of focus on where to even start and what to share that is of value.

So, first of all, I must beg your indulgence in what might not be the most advice-filled or productive posting from a reader’s perspective. I’m hoping, at least, from my end that it will be somewhat cathartic in helping jar loose something useful for all of us.

I’ll start with a list of what I’ve been up to, professionally, since my last post.
Maybe that will bring up some salient threads:

  • Working on CMMI v1.3 — specifically coming up with language that will make it through the review board to help provide some Agile perspectives.
  • Working on an article for CrossTalk on CMMI and Agile “needing” each other.
  • Preparing presentations and tutorials for: Scrum Gathering, CEE-SECR, Agile Development Practices, and SEPG-NA-2010, and SEPG-Europe-2010.
  • Working for the SEI on, and delivering several pilots of, Introduction to CMMI for Services class.
  • Becoming a People-CMM SCAMPI Lead Appraiser.
  • Learning about the Resiliency Management Model.
  • Program committee work for SEPG-NA-2010.
  • Working on strategic issues with SEI for the Partner Advisory Board.
  • Early planning for an AgileCMMI conference (probably 2 days in DC in Winter 2010).
  • Incorporating more Kanban and lean (process excellence) into our efforts.
  • Gathering data and case work for at least two books-in-work (one on Agile, another on process excellence).
  • Of course, there’s client work and,
  • Contrary to what the above list may imply, I’m actually working on transforming the messaging of Entinex to be less SEI-centric and more aligned with what we actually do.

Perhaps it’s that last bullet that bears some discussion.

Despite knowing that we specialize in lean and agile methods in all our work, recently, someone asked whether we only use SEI tools and techniques.   Obviously, it seemed an odd question since SEI doesn’t provide any tools or techniques with “agile” pasted on them.  But it got me to thinking, “yeah, really, what are we truly up to?” And I concluded this:

Aligning effort with the need to satisfy expectations.

You can expand on that in a number of ways. Chiefly, whose need? The business’ needs. Whose expectations? Customers’ expectations. Merely satisfy? Of course, not. To exceed and delight.

We bring to bear whatever tools and techniques will help make this happen.

In all cases, we’re deeply in pursuit of process excellence and what we’ve learned is that it’s irrelevant to lead with anything from either the SEI or the Agile community. What’s relevant is results. Powerful ones.

In truth, I’ve known this all along, but our messaging was anything but this.

Conversations with David Anderson, Jim Benson, Alistair Cockburn, Jesse Fewell, Alan Shalloway, Ahmed Sidky and many others in the agile world, plus my experience working with SEI, SEI Partners, and clients over the last several months have really surfaced some critical distinctions for me about managing effort, developing products, delivering services, and growing organizational competencies.

Many organizations want to implement agile or CMMI or whatever but they’re failing to account for two critical pieces:

  1. Understanding their own business, their own competencies, the details of their efforts be they services, development, management, (etc.), their own value stream, and everything it takes to get things done and get paid.  And,
  2. Making a business case for change whatsoever.  Without the first piece, this piece is worthless, so it’s logical that organizations fail to make a business case for changing things if/when they don’t understand enough about their business.

I find myself more and more having to walk clients and students through both 1 and 2 before we can move on to making meaningful improvements.  Neither 1 nor 2 begin or end with Agile or SEI-stuffs.  Sometimes we can leverage Agile or SEI-things to help motivate organizations to address 1 and 2, but it’s seldom a strong prod.  It’s become very much like another in a string of tests-of-commitment for clients and prospective clients.  We’ll lead them to water and it becomes very evident through not just whether they drink, but how they get the water to their mouths as a determinant in our ability to help them become a success story.

This is where to start, and if organizations are already here, fabulous.  If not, their work is waiting.