Archive for the ‘waste’ Category

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.

Expand the scope of "value".

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

I get common resistance from agile proponents that part of the agile philosophy is to only perform activities that add value to the product, and thereby (the assumption is) to the client. This is often a stumbling block for the "lean" folks too.

The argument goes along the lines of: much of the CMMI practices to "maintain" and even many of the practices to "establish" certain work items don’t add value. If not, why do them?

It’s a strong case. But strong cases for not doing practices don’t make for organizations that can get through a SCAMPI (CMMI appraisal) and end with a maturity level rating.*

So what is there for an organization to do?

There are two ways (non-exhaustive and not mutually exclusive) to re-factor this thinking, both of which involve adding long-term value in addition to immediate value:

1) Adding value to the organization, and
2) Adding value to the future product (or, to the product in the future).

In the first approach, process activities are seen as adding value beyond the immediate project. Process activities are seen as an investment in the efficiency and productivity of future projects. And, on sufficiently long projects, these activities can provide feedback in time to make a difference to the projects underway and from which the process data is being collected. This approach adds value to the business in terms of know-how, intellectual property and competitive edge.

The second approach, while similar to the first is product-focused. In this view, the value in doing the process activities is in being able to reduce maintenance costs, make updates/upgrades less cumbersome or expensive and make the product more extensible. This often goes handily with allowing the developer to be different from the operator, the maintainer, or the help desk.

Many paradigms of process improvement use the metaphor of "throwing the product over the wall" as a means to describe what happens when products are developed in a serial, production-line fashion and not as an integrated, high-trust, highly communicative team (sound familiar?). The very antithesis of agile development.

Well, here’s a wake-up call for some people, including self-proclaimed agile developers: the "wall" eliminated by integrated and agile development teams is not only between steps in the development life cycle. Sometimes the wall that needs eliminating is temporal. That is, stop throwing your well-tested, peer-reviewed, non-wasteful code over the wall for someone in the future to have to deal with. Most of us have had to make sense of someone else’s spaghetti code at one point or another and we shouldn’t be the ones to create it even if we did so by being lean and agile today while sacrificing the value of the product in the future.

So, the value we’re trying to eek out of our process activities ought to take this sort of long-term view of "value" Some also refer to this as "Total Cost of Ownership" or TCO. Process activities ought to be calculated on the basis of TCO for the organization and the product.

In both approaches, the value being added to the organization as well as to the product is a reduction in waste. Companies don’t become lean over night and they don’t become great at agile practices with 2 days of stand-up meetings or one 30 day sprint. Often taking the time to identify, record, be methodical about, and update the organization’s approaches can help find what works and eliminate what doesn’t.

Really…. CMMI isn’t what complicates this, it’s not understanding CMMI that owns that job.

* Let’s be clear about something… Achieving a maturity level (or capability level) rating should not be any organization’s goal. Improvement should be. PLENTY of benefit, value and improvement can be had without *ever* being appraised and/or without ever attaining a "level" rating. However, for obvious reasons, achieving ratings has other value, such as being able to compete for certain customers and in certain markets.