A starting point for a discussion on marrying Agile methods and CMMI.

Back from SEPG — Very pleased!

All-in-all the event was a success for me and Entinex. Today’s panel discussion on Agile & CMMI went well, I thought… If a measure of success can be the fact that most of the audience stuck it out for the entire double-session w/out taking even a bio-break and then stayed on after the allotted time and into the afternoon refreshments break… I guess you could say it was pretty high-value.

The panel was excellent. Each person had a different perspective on the matter which did add depth — even though we all pretty much agreed that CMMI and agile methods are not incompatible. I’m sure a more lively panel would have been one that also included an agilist and a “big” process person who didn’t believe the two can play nicely, but I think it was important that a group of people with different perspectives came together to make an essentially unified front in moving this topic off the “no way” list and into the “let’s make it happen” list.

From the panel I shamelessly plugged this blog (with the moderator’s consent) as a place where those who agree (or are at least at a point where they can carry on a serious, productive discussion and investigation) can collaborate and discuss the topic. I’ve created a discussion group for it and will see about making a companion bulletin board or RSS/Atom feed to it here. (In my copious spare bandwidth.)

David Anderson’s impressive presentation near the very end of the day had some really killer information. What he’s working on over there in Redmond should take this business by storm. I’m looking forward to heading out there this summer to get an up-close and personal tour of their work.

I’m really quite feeling accomplished at all the great people I met there and anyone reading this whose name doesn’t explicitly appear in these posts, please don’t be offended. The discussions and serious issue-hashing were informative and productive. There are many of you with whom I hope to be in regular contact to move this matter forward and ultimately make it a non-issue. Technical Reports are already in the making, but they will need people to carry the message and this space is what I hope we can use to make that happen.


2nd Full Day at SEPG

Let’s just start by saying that David Anderson is *way* too generous. His post about me is simply humbling.

So that’s how day 2 started. And it was just as good (or nearly) for the rest of the day.

Right after lunch (mixed blessing) I delivered my session on “Time to Market vs. Process Discipline” to a suprisingly large audience. I guess the topic title alone struck a chord. And, if the number of people coming up to me for updated slides and other discussion are any indication, the material was well-received. I got many “thanks for saying what you said” comments as well as many other nice things from strangers as well as people I know. I value everyone’s thoughtful opinions and feedback. Here and there discussions ensued over the course of the afternoon long after the session. I hope the general session feedback forms provide useful improvement points.

I attended a very fun session on “Behavioral Clues” of process maturity delivered by one of my CMMI mentors, Judah Mogilensky of Process Enhancement Partners. It wasn’t only about “Bottom-Dwelling Mud-Sucking Level 1″ companies(TM)*, but also about behaviors of higher-maturity. Quite informative.

*a non-official term of endearment used around the CMMI community for companies just getting started on improving their processes and who are so lost and clueless you can’t help but think they’re cute… like a puppy or kitten.

The session after that was on Agile implementation in a very data-driven company. I was very happy to see their material because I hope it laid to myth that Agile development doesn’t generate manageable data.

The final session was a break-out session after-hours to discuss in an open forum the being done on creating a CMMI set of practices around organizations that deliver pure services, no products. It was rather lively and I hope to get more involved.

In all, a good day for Agile CMMI. I am continually stunned at how many people agree with my philosophy on Agile development + CMMI and yet how few are out there actually doing it.

Tomorrow is a panel discussion. Looking forward to it.


First full day @ SEPG 2006

After breakfast I decided to walk the mile or so to the convention center. That was a mistake from several angles. I ended up arriving about when I would have had I waited for the shuttle van and for my industriousness I was rewarded with a sinus headache that wouldn’t go away all day. (My stash of “Day-Quil” was back at the hotel.) My Transition Partner, Galina (to whom I owe my SEI/CMM/CMMI independent consultant start, by the way) hooked me up with some anti-histamines and a Ricola losenge… I think the losenge did more than the drugs.

The sessions I attended were quite good. So were the opportunities to network. I met-up with the guy coordinating a panel discussion which I’m part of on Thursday and learned that a 4th panel member got his travel plans messed up. A few minutes later I run into David Anderson again and *presto* we have ourselves a 4th panelist. (Thanks David!) We sat next to each other at the next session and were able to squeeze in a few words here and there.

During a break I met with a Senior Editor from a publishing company who wants me to send in an outline for a book I’m writing: How to Get from Estimates to Actuals In the Black.(link is to page of presentations)
Come to think of it, I should make that a blog too. Stay tuned I suppose. (David A. what have you done?!) ;-)

Another positive note is that I had it confirmed for me that the only thing standing between me and getting the authorization letter from the SEI to be a fully Authorized Lead Appraiser, is for the guy in whose inbox the paperwork is sitting. The head honcho, who’s always on the road, so stuff like that can rest there for a while.

At the evening reception I spent time talking martial arts with David Greer (a Transition Partner who generously arranged for me to be observed teaching Introduction to CMMI which got me that ‘authorized instructor’ credential really fast for a lot less money than had I tried to arrange it on my own). One of his aquaintences, whose name must remain confidential for what I’m about to say, tells me that she was talking to a cellular supplier in need of process help. She hung up when the VP of this company couldn’t explain what she meant by “someone who can help us implement Agile methods who’s also strong in CMMI”. The part that earned her the dial-tone response was when this VP couldn’t explain what she wanted from Agile or how they wanted to implement it.

In the end, David (Greer)’s friend took my card and told me she’d call the VP with my 411.

Head ache or not… not a bad day. This Agile CMMI stuff is really gaining traction.

Before I sign off I should make note of a couple of things about the conference.

Let’s start with these bulky but grows-on-you name badges they’ve issued every attendee. They’re about 4″ x 4″ X 1″ and are attached to a lanyard with both ends on spring-loaded spools. Though awkward as a thing to wear around your neck they’re loaded with features and I admit I had not expected to use any of them. Turns out that one feature is terribly convenient… like… grabbing names of anyone you spend a little face-time with and for people you really want to keep track of you can “beam” each other your contact info. You can even use the thing to submit session reviews. The thing is constantly aware and will flash information about you to people as you walk by, but it will also flash a message to an onlooker about themselves… Like I caught it telling an exhibitor to hold his tag up higher. Nifty.

Next I want to mention that I really feel the SEI is going all-out to welcome SEI members. They’ve set up a lounge whose couch my aching head sorely needed and if promotional do-dads are any measure, they’re really giving us some useful stuff…. not kitsch…. beyond the snappy briefcase everyone got.

In any case, I’m having a good time and the experiene has been far more positive than I expected. Next year’s conference is in Austin. Hee ha cowboy!

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