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.

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