Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Get Your DISCOUNT CODE for Capability Counts 2017

Capability Counts DISCOUNT CODES are here!

Thinking of coming to Capability Counts 2017 in Alexandria, VA on May 16-17?

This conference, formerly known as "SEPG," will be a collection of several hundred process improvement and CMMI experts from around the world - and you definitely want to be there!



Your CFO will be happy to hear that The Appraiser can give you $200 smackers off the registration fee!

Message me at appraiser@broadswordsolutions.com for your code.

Register for the conference here.

Hope to see you at Capability Counts 2017!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Capability Counts 2017 is coming to Washington, DC May 16-17!

Capability Counts 2017 is coming!

Join us May 16-17 in Alexandria, VA to hear over 50 speakers, play games, take classes, and network with other practitioners that are passionate about increasing professional capability!


Once again, this year Broadsword will be prominently featured at the conference. Here is a rundown of who’s speaking from Broadsword, when, and on what topics:

Monday, May 15th
Jeff Dalton (8:30-11:30AM) Pre-Conference Half-Day Tutorial: Agile Learning Experience

Tuesday, May 16th 
Ross Timmerman (9:00AM): Gamers’ Alley

Julie Calfin (9:45AM): The Great Service Multiplier - How Our Consulting Firm Doubled Revenues and Reduced Costs by Implementing CMMI-SVC

Jeff Dalton (11:15AM): Holacracy – Abolish Hierarchy while Leveraging CMMI to Radically Change Your Organization

Darian Poinsetta (3:30PM): Finally! A model for evaluating agile performance – The Agile Performance Holarchy

Wednesday, May 17th 
Laura Adkins (10:30AM): The Buy-In Effect – How Getting Alignment Can Get Your CMMI Adoption UnStuck

Ross Timmerman (1:15PM): Gamers’ Alley

Tim Zeller (1:15PM): Agile Performance Management

Jeff Dalton (2:45PM) Featured Presentation: Stability, Agility, and The Capable Organization

So come to Alexandria , Virginia and learn alongside hundreds of executives and professionals like you who are focused on the fact that CMMIAgile and Performance Improvement are all about the transformation of the culture of your company. I’ve got a lot of exciting strategies, tactics and insights to share in my presentation, and I’d hate for you to miss out.

Register now!

We hope to see you at Capability Counts 2017!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Can we get PDUs for CMMI training?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – we enjoyed your webinar and would love to know when the next CMMI training class is going to be held in the DC area. Also, can we get PDUs for your class? ~ webinar attendees from Virginia

Hello, Virginia!

I’m glad you enjoyed the webinar and are hungry for more information about the CMMI. You are in luck! With a certain holiday in February fast approaching, your CMMI Appraiser decided to give engineering and software professionals something you all seem to LOVE:

More opportunities to learn!



"Introduction to CMMI-DEV v1.3" is an interactive learning experience that is designed for managers, systems engineers, software developers, project managers, or process professionals –whether they are with CMMI-focused companies that are looking for guidance on being lighter and more flexible, or Agile teams that are still seeking the kind of results they’ve been hoping for. This three-day CMMI Institute course provides attendees with a detailed overview of the Capability Maturity Model Integration for Development (CMMI-DEV).

And yes, you can receive 21 PDU's towards your PMP Certification for this course!

"Introduction to CMMI-DEV v1.3"
February 22 8:30am – February 24 2017 1:00pm.
Mclean, VA

Cost: $1300 (that’s more than 30% off!)

Register for "Introduction to CMMI-DEV v1.3"

Bonus Content! You won’t get this anywhere else!

In addition to the CMMI Institute Authorized course material, class participants will be presented two Broadsword exclusive course modules. These modules, “The Secrets of SCAMPI Appraisals” and “Agile Resiliency: Making Agile Stronger with CMMI”, have proven to be a highlight learning experience, and are only offered here.

What's not to love? Hope to see you in class!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What is the future of Agile?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser - In your opinion, what is the future of agile? ~ Flore D

Hey, Flore, I am talking about the future of agile -- and the future of organizations that embrace agile -- on a live webinar presented by ISACA. You're welcome to join me!

Register here.


Attendees can expect to receive valuable take-aways from this hour-long webinar as we explore a model-based approach to building agility and capability, including a practical demonstration of how the CMMI strengthens your organization. You'll understand what needs to be done to guide your organization to thrive and survive in a leaner, more agile future.

See you on the Webinar!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hey, CMMI Appraiser - Where can I find you on Twitter? ~ Paul C.

Dear Readers,

Did you know that Ask the CMMI Appraiser is on Twitter?



If you're one of over two thousand of our followers, you're already getting our daily tweets packed with CMMI knowledge.  You know we're different because we help you focus on the fact that Process Improvement, Agile, and CMMI are all about the transformation of the culture of your company.

Join the movement! Click to follow us on Twitter right now @CMMIAppraiser.  What could be easier -- or more fun?

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

When is the next "Agile Scrum Learning Experience" in Virginia?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser,

When is your next Agile training class in the DC area? ~ F. Montcrief

Hey, F,

Good news, if you're looking to participate in agile training before the end of the year. We've got a DC-area Agile training class coming up right around the corner.  Join us for the Agile Scrum Learning Experience!


Agile Scrum Learning Experience

A 2-Day Workshop for IT Teams

Come on over to Fairfax, VA on December 13/14, for this two-day, hands-on, experiential workshop that is based on the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) and Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO) certifications from Scrum.org.

What's the class like?

In a word, useful. You'll actually get to make decisions as part of a Scrum team, where you'll experience Agile values, participate in Scrum ceremonies, try on new roles, and figure out how to deal with artifacts and documentation (eeeek!). You'll experience these lessons by working through a series of exciting, fast-paced projects that use legos, dart guns, cards, balloons, and videos.

Yes, you'll have fun. But these are real-life Agile skills you'll be learning here, that can completely transform your company and career. All within an Agile setting, you'll get to play the role of Scrum Master, Scrum Product Owner, Agile Team Member and Customer. You'll iterate. You'll collaborate. You'll fail fast. You'll learn to be more Agile.

Check it out. Class doors close in two weeks.  REGISTER HERE

Hope to see you there!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What's the most important question we should be asking ourselves?

Dear Readers, for the past several weeks, this CMMI Appraiser has been sharing excerpts from a conversation with Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces™. Bill interviewed me about our innovative approach to creating forward-thinking workplaces. Here’s my response to Bill’s final question, “What's the most important question we should be asking ourselves?” Enjoy!

Hey, Jeff, What's the most important question we should be asking ourselves? ~ Bill Fox, Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces

Hey, Bill,

Ha! Ask me an easy one! But I think the one of the most important questions that we can ask ourselves is, "Why not?"


As human beings we are so acclimated to conformance. Even in the US, which is probably the least conforming nation in the world, a place where engineers are known for extreme innovation through winging it, thinking outside the box, and for challenging authority, we don't often ask, “Why not?” Too many companies run their teams by saying “because I said so.” Screw that.

I've been encouraging my children to ask this question because they'll come home from college and say, "You know, the teacher said I can't do that." I say, "Well, why not?" They'll say, "There’s nothing I can do." And I'll say, "Why not?"

Sometimes I’ll be in a contract negotiation with a really large manufacturing client and they'll say, "Well, we can't go with you unless you have this manufacturing liability insurance” even though it has nothing to do with what we do. And I'll say, "Why not?" Lawyers are called, managers are consulted, and procurement is befuddled. But they eventually come around to see there is no good reason why not. Good times!

I think "Why not?" is the most important question because we need to get people to explain and verbalize why they take the positions they do. So many times they’re just repeating what they think is an unbreakable rule. Instead of saying, "I won't do that," or "We can't do that," let's say, "Why not? Why can't we do that?" Let's start the conversation, let's collaborate on the answer and let's figure out how everybody can win here and that starts with those two simple words, "Why not?"

Broadsword offers CMMI Training for those who say, “Why not?” – Why not get the value the CMMI was intended to provide? Why not learn to change behavior and improve performance? Our next “Intro to CMMI” class is on November 2-4, in San Diego, CA. Click here to register for the CMMI class.

[This concludes the excerpts from my interview with Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces. Thanks for reading!]

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What's the most important question employees should be asking management?

Dear Readers, for the past several weeks, this CMMI Appraiser has been sharing excerpts from a conversation with Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces™. Bill interviewed me about our innovative approach to creating forward-thinking workplaces. Here’s my response to Bill’s fifth question, “What's the most important question employees should be asking management?” Enjoy!

Hey, Jeff, What's the most important question employees should be asking management? ~ Bill Fox, Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces

Hey, Bill, I'm writing a book for young technology professionals about how they can take steps early on to be more successful in their career. As part of that book, I've been interviewing CEOs of technology companies to get their perspective.
One of the things I'm hearing from them is that, especially with the younger team members, they are not focused on making the company successful. They are not asking, “What can I personally to do to make you and your company more successful?” I think the most important question an employee should be asking management is, "How can I make this organization rock?" "How can I help us win?"

When I was coming up in the technology business I used to ask my immediate manager “how can I make you successful in your mission?”

I think sometimes people, especially in large companies, don't really see the traceability between their actions and the success of the company. They have a bit of a disconnect between sales and engineering. If you go to a big engineering company like Lockheed Martin, L3 or SAIC, the engineers have very little visibility into what the sales team is doing. There tends to be some friction between the two groups. I tell them, "Look, this is a team. Nothing happens unless your sales people sell something.” And the sales people don’t continue to be rewarded if you don’t deliver. We all need each other! If the accounts receivable manager can’t get her invoices out, none of us can pay our rent – help make everyone successful!

I think people need to do a better job of saying, "What can I do to help this company be more successful?" Then get really specific on it and focus on those things. If they start asking those questions then everyone is going to be communicating and be on the same page, which should be “let's make this organization rock, so we have great careers, build great products, and have a great time doing it!” Anything else is a waste of talent.

For those interested in CMMI Training as a way to receive the right amount of process guidance so you can change behavior and improve performance, we invite you to attend our Intro to CMMI class on November 2-4, in San Diego, CA. Register here.

[Please check back soon for the final question from Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: What's the most important question we should be asking ourselves?]

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: What is the most important question leaders should be asking employees?

Dear Readers, for the next several weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a conversation with Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces™. Bill interviewed me about our innovative approach to creating forward-thinking workplaces. Here’s my response to Bill’s fourth question, “What is the most important question leaders should be asking employees?” Enjoy!

Hey, Jeff,

What is the most important question leaders should be asking employees? ~ Bill Fox, Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces


Hey, Bill,

“How can I help?” This is a really important question that we don't hear often enough. I try to remember to ask this question every day to at least one person. How can I help you succeed in what you're doing? How can I help your each your goal? If you look at the model we've developed where people have autonomy to grow their in own area of interest, the most important thing is to help them do that.


But I also sometimes get more specific with it, “Specifically, what I can do right now to help make you more successful?” I think this notion of servant leadership is over-hyped in our market, but I really believe in the principle. Teams want you to make decisions and be a strong leader, but they also want you to serve them and help make them successful.

In the book “We Were Soldiers Once . . .and Young” the protagonist (legendary Calvary Lt. Colonel Hal Moore famously promised his young troopers that, “When we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off.” That’s been my model since I first read those words.

[Please check back soon for Question #5 from Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: “What's the most important question employees should be asking management?”]

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: What do people really lack and long for at work?

Dear Readers, for the next several weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a conversation with Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces™. Bill interviewed me about our innovative approach to creating forward-thinking workplaces. Here’s my response to Bill’s third question, “What do people really lack and long for at work?” Enjoy!

Hey, Jeff,

What do people really lack and long for at work? ~ Bill Fox, Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces

Hey, Bill,

It's interesting because this has really evolved over the last decade. When I was a young programmer and then consultant, what was most important was a solid career track, making more money, and moving up to be a partner, senior manager, or vice president. People were really focused on that. 


I've been excited this past couple of years because it seems like the workforce is evolving. People are more interested in the work environment with time and challenge being the most important things. People want to have time to do the things that are important in their life. A career, making money and moving up are the things that people do, but it's not the reason we work. We don't work to move up and get a new title. We don't work to make an additional $50,000 per year. Those things are nice and good things (and wholly necessary), but what we really work for is to spend time with our family, relax, read, and do other pursuits outside of our careers. And be challenged every day.

As part of our own Holacracy journey, we have implemented a couple of new policies. One of them is we have an unlimited Personal Time Off (PTO) policy. We have no designated vacation days by role. We used to say if you were a senior consultant you got three weeks. If you were a manager, you got four weeks. Now we say, “OK, you take the PTO that you need to take to make yourself successful.” That way people get ample vacation time, but more importantly they get ample time to take off to do things that are important to them. All they need to do is collaborate with their peers to ensure nothing falls on the floor.

What we were finding with the traditional model of time management was that someone would use up their vacation, and then they would have miss important family events, or have to come to us asking special permission to get that time off. Who likes doing that? With the model we have now, it's much more about supporting the team and being collaborative. The person brings it to the team and says, “I need to take four days off to go to a wedding.” And the team will say, “Ok that’s fine with us, we can pick up some slack and succeed without you being there.” If someone on the team were to abuse the policy – which has not happened in the two years we’ve been doing it – the team would most certainly let them know that they’re not being a team player!

We do, however, have guidelines. For example, our clients have to be taken care of, and important internal tasks must be accounted for. Team members know that if they have your back, you’ll have theirs. Allowing people to use their time in a way that satisfies their life, as well as their career, has been a game changer in the business. It frees up the organization to be a lot nimbler and a lot more focused on what is important. It's created a very strong and dedicated group of professionals.

[Please check back soon for Question #4 from Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: “What is the most important question leaders should be asking employees?”]

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: What does it take to get an employee's full attention and best performance?

Dear Readers, for the next several weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a conversation with Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces™. Bill interviewed me about our innovative approach to creating forward-thinking workplaces. Here’s my response to Bill’s second question, “What does it take to get an employee's full attention and best performance?” Enjoy!

Hey, Jeff,

What does it take to get an employee's full attention and best performance? ~ Bill Fox, Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces


Hey, Bill,

This is a complicated question, with many inputs and qualifiers. I've struggled with this idea my whole career. But if I’m proud of anything in my career, it’s that I’ve done a decent job bringing great performance out of people. I think the way to do that is to encourage and motivate them to want to do it and to be excited about what they're doing.



I'm always reminded of the mantras of the Armed Services. The Navy says, “People, People, People” is their focus. The Army says, “Process, Process, Process.” And the Air Force says, “Mission, Mission, Mission.” These are the things that you hear military professionals talk about as being what really drives them in their particular branch.

What I've learned in my company is that people want to be excited about all three of those things, the mission being the most important one. It isn't enough just to give them a mission and a goal. You also need to focus on the people, making it easier for them to focus on the mission.

Finally, process is important too. Process is nothing more than a definition of expected behavior, and I find that the right amount of process guidance can be very liberating and a powerful force in growing your culture. So, it’s a three-legged stool – and architecture of sorts. Laying out a very clear mission that's exciting to them, laying out a clear vision for culture that helps people be successful, and laying out the process in a way that makes their job easier and more successful. All three things together have to be intertwined and work together.

Anyone interested in CMMI Training, as a way to receive the right amount of process guidance so you can change behavior and improve performance, is invited to attend our Intro to CMMI training class on September 20-23, outside of Detroit, MI. Register here!

[Please check back soon for Question #3 from Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: What do people really lack and long for at work?]

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: How can we create workplaces where more voices matter?

Dear Readers, over the next several weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing snippets from a conversation with Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces™. Bill interviewed me about our innovative approach to creating forward-thinking workplaces. Here’s “Making Every Voice Matter at Broadsword.” Enjoy!]

Hey, Jeff,

I’d like to start by asking, how can we create workplaces where more voices matter, people thrive and find meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally? ~ Bill Fox, Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces


Hey, Bill,

We've been struggling with this question for 10 years at Broadsword, the company I founded eleven years ago. We started out as a traditional consulting firm with a leveraged model and different levels of performers - senior consultants, directors, and managers. We were a little bit like a traditional Big 4 consulting model, which is where we some of us came from. 



Last year we had a joint epiphany. We were out there in the world talking with our clients about agile, self-organization and collaboration when we realized we weren't doing a good job at it ourselves! We really wanted to ensure that all of the smart people who worked at our company had a voice, but more importantly, felt like they were contributing and thriving in their own lives. We wanted them to feel like they were empowered to do the things they needed to do to be delighted. So I started what I call the "no victims" policy. There are no victims in our company - everyone is empowered to do what they need to do to be successful. They're empowered to resolve issues and be equals. No managers.

Of course, you can’t be successful without some level of organization, so in order to facilitate this policy, we've started to adopt a model called “Holacracy.” I was literally Googling “self-organizing companies” when I ran across the Holacracy website. I'm not sure how much you've been following Brian Robinson and his journey, but Brian created this model a number of years ago and has helped many companies find great success with self-organization. It's a constitution-based model where your organization is self-governing. In some ways it’s a super-charged version of what we’ve been doing with our clients – crisply defined processes where people have very clear defined roles in the constitution. They have a lot of input into each role, and theirs is is designed to give them the meaning they are searching for. Obviously, we have some roles that have to be performed, but there are also elective roles so that people are focusing on the things that make them most empowered and most successful in their careers.

One of the key concepts in Holacracy is "learning to separate role from soul." An individual at our company might have 20 roles. For example, I have a role such as “writer of proposals,” and another like “reviewer of financials.” I also have “teacher of classes” (a role others also have) and “planner of retreats. We're codifying all of the roles in our constitution, and are starting to become proficient in this self-organization model where every employee is responsible for their own meaning and their own innovation. It's really starting to change the face of our company.

For a while we had a couple of dedicated managers - people whose job it was to direct the other people. We realized early on we were uncomfortable with this because everyone in our company is a high performer. People needed coaching more than management, and I became concerned that too much oversight was stifling innovation (another thing we always tell our clients!). We haven't fully implemented Holacracy yet, but we are on the path. The results have been overwhelmingly positive.

[Please check back soon for Question #2 from Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: What does it take to get an employee's full attention and best performance?]

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Who receives a “CMMI certification,” the organization or the team?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – our IT organization is interested in using the CMMI for performance improvement. If we’re successful with our CMMI adoption, who receives the CMMI certification – the organization or the team? ~ Renata B.

Hey, Renata,

None of the above. When your organization is successful in adopting the CMMI, no one gets a CMMI certificate.

What? How is that fair? Well, allow me to shed some light.




It’s more than a matter of terminology, Renata, but it starts there. See, when an organization takes a proper approach to CMMI, and is successful with its SCAMPI-A appraisal, it achieves a Capability Rating, or Maturity Level, such as CMMI Level 2 or CMMI Level 3. This is cause for celebration, because the company has put itself on the path to greatness. But it’s not a cause for certification, because …

CMMI certification isn’t a thing, as the kids would say.

In our lingo, there’s no such thing as an organization getting a “CMMI certification.” It’s a misnomer.

Now, it certainly seemed real enough when our friends at the Department of Defense started creating an environment where a CMMI mandate felt and looked like a certification. Many electronics and software companies in the commercial sector followed suit. They began routinely inserting requirements in their RFPs and contracts that suppliers be at a certain CMMI Level, which sounded like a certification, but it’s not.

This is an important distinction, Renata. Focusing on CMMI certification is a misguided interpretation of what actually needs to be done. Not saying YOU are in this predicament, but a lot of organizations will take this misguided interpretation and go right off a cliff with it. By focusing only on chasing the piece of paper, not improvement, they end up losing all the value of the CMMI.

You don’t want that, for two big reasons.

First, your clients want you to be better at what you do. That’s a noble intention. We all want that for ourselves, to be in a continuously improving environment. The CMMI guides your journey to getting better at what you are ALREADY doing.

Second, and this is a secret (so don't tell ANYONE)! It's easier to do it right than it is to chase the paper! And you also get all the benefits of the CMMI. What's not to like?

The value of the CMMI comes from the transformation of the culture of your company. It’s about changing the way we behave, so that we build products that are better than other companies that are building similar products - albeit with lame processes that cost more, produce lower quality, and make employees unhappy.

You can’t transform a culture by going out and getting certificates. When we put a “certification” mindset around getting better, it drives the wrong kind of behaviors.

If you’d like to learn more about taking a proper approach to the CMMI, Renata, you may be interested in our “Intro to CMMI-DEV” class, which is being held in Detroit, MI, on September 20-23. Also, if you are interested in learning additional new skills, and being more agile, the class also includes a supplemental, one-day Scrum Learning Experience.

You’re invited to join us, and bring your team!

For more information on "Intro to CMMI-DEV" training class, click here:


Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What is the Agile Scrum Learning Experience?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, what is the Agile Scrum Learning Experience and is it the best kind of agile training for my team? We are a 31-year old software engineering organization in Northern Virginia that uses Waterfall. ~ Simon W.

Simon,

It really doesn't matter what methods or approaches you currently use when deciding between agile training classes. Instead, focus on picking a class designed around how you learn best.

So let's explore this.  Do you find you're more engaged -- and learning more -- when you get to play games, do exercises, tell stories and listen to your peers? Is it useful for you to work with real life examples, experiences, lessons and proven techniques?  Is it important that you take away – and retain – valuable information to be used on the job, immediately?


These are the concepts driving the "Agile Scrum Learning Experience" training class, which takes place in October in Austin, TX.  The Agile Scrum Learning Experience provides an opportunity to learn about agile values, frameworks, and techniques the way many people say they learn best.

This class is useful for those who are preparing to sit for the Professional Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Product Owner certification exams from scrum.org, or just want get hands-on, experiential training environment about User Stories, Planning Poker, and more.  Here are the details:

Agile Scrum Learning Experience | October 13th-14th, 2016 | Austin, TX

Register here

So, Simon, it's your call.  There are many options when you're looking for agile training.  But if you're interested in taking a journey into agile values, Scrum, and a collection of popular agile techniques and ceremonies, and want come away with an understanding of how to how to deploy a scalable and resilient approach to agile and Scrum that integrates agile values, methods and techniques, you should definitely consider this class.

Good luck!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Does anyone win at scaling agile?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, our biggest challenge is scaling agile. Does anyone win at this? ~ Dale K.

Dale, scaling agile is the ultimate win for just about everyone who cares about software process improvement, engineering strategy and performance innovation. When you understand how useful agile values, methods and techniques are for solving business problems, you just want see the whole organization pick it up and run with it.

The good news is, yes, there is a winning way to scale agile ...


But before you get to the high-fives and back slaps, it's always necessary to defend yourself from the nay-sayers. Everyone’s got an opinion, and some engineering and software executives and professionals complain that agile just doesn’t work across the enterprise. They claim agile doesn’t scale. Even when they hear about a tool like the CMMI, which was designed to help companies scale the way they work, they are reluctant to take the first step.

But that’s the cool thing about the CMMI. When adopted properly, it’s the perfect tool for making agile scale across the enterprise. The CMMI gives you the ability to make immediate improvements that strengthen agile in your company, which shores it up for wider adoption.

How does CMMI strengthen agile? By helping you know more about the way you work.

Knowledge is important. Any smart engineering or project manager would agree with that. Knowing how to do something and knowing what to do are very important parts of succeeding, and making the customers happy.

CMMI accelerates that process. It jump starts your knowledge, and makes you much more successful, much quicker.

Example? Let’s pick one of our agile values that we want to scale across the enterprise. Let’s say we want to scale our value of having an agile way of dealing with risk.

The CMMI guides us to ask questions that will help us learn more about how we work. Specific to this value, it guides us to gain more knowledge about the way we deal with risk. So the first CMMI question we need to ask, as we roll this out, is the following:

“What are the methods and techniques that we’re going to use to support the value of having an agile way of dealing with risk?”

It starts with our values. We want to approach risk management iteratively and incrementally. We want to get those issues of risk when they’re young, and deal with them in small pieces. We want to prioritize them and get them out of the way.

The CMMI helps us decide HOW we will do what we WANT to do.

So let’s say Scrum is the tool we are going to use to deal with risk iteratively and incrementally. We plan to execute a Daily Stand-up, where we’re going to be talking about risk.

This is a resilient way of dealing with risk. Our Techniques (Daily Stand-up) support our Methods (Scrum) which support our Values (being a company that deals iteratively and incrementally with issues and risks).

Notice the traceability. Everything we do traces back to why we’re doing it. In this way, the CMMI helps us define HOW we do what we do. It strengthens agile and makes it more resilient, so that it can scale.

So, Dale, scaling agile is enabled by defining our agile values, methods and techniques, and making them stronger and more resistant to change. The CMMI helps us do that.

That’s the winning formula for scaling agile.

If you would like deeper insight on this topic, feel free to join our free webinar, "Scaling and Strengthening Agile" on July 20th.

Sign up here.

Good luck!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!
Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Did you know that the CMMI Appraiser is on Twitter?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – we’re new to Twitter.  Who should we follow to make sure we’re getting the latest strategies, observations and insights about CMMI, agile and software performance improvement? ~ Brian D.

Dear Readers,

New people still seem to be joining social media every day, so this is as good a time as any to let everyone know.  Ask the CMMI Appraiser is on Twitter!  And we're very active - tweeting many times a day - so give us a follow.

www.twitter.com/CMMIAppraiser

Our community of over 900 followers is already liking, re-tweeting and otherwise enjoying our frequent tweets packed with CMMI, agile and performance improvement knowledge.  Why not join the movement?  We're different because we help you focus on the fact that process improvement, agile, and CMMI are all about one thing: the transformation of the culture of your company.

Don't miss out! Click to follow "@CMMIAppraiser".

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.
Posted by Jeff Dalton at 1:39 PM