Who wants CMMi?

It will be easier to answer this, if we can answer the question “who wants CMM?”

Do the engineers love it? NEVER, majority hates it

Do the managers love it? NEVER again

Do the senior management love it? Partially because it helps them to quote for some government tenders. If the organization is very large, this gives them an assurance of minimum performance levels.

Do the customers love it – majority do not, it only adds to the effort  Only the american government customers insists for this as an entry criteria.

Do the consulting firms like it – YES, this is where they make their money

Do the quality managers like it? – YES and NO – the ones who can only find faults like this, the one who can contribute based on sound software engineering principles, do not care about this.

Who wants this then? Let us introspect.  If it is for a minority of the stakeholders who falls into the low power and low interest category. Is it not time to throw it out?. Is it not time to liberate the software engineer from bondage.

One way to counter the manpower shortage is by increasing the productivity of the existing manpower – an a quantum leap in that direction is not possible by following the age old stuff with more vigour. We need totally different approaches….


Confessions of a scrum master – scrum of scrums dilemas

While dealing with larger teams and / or distributed development the need to design the SCRUM teams arises and the following are the key aspects to be considered;

1) Should I form a SCRUM of SCRUMs first and then go for the creation of scrum teams?

2) Should I go with a big bang approach where all the teams jumps into action together or a will a pilot approach help better?

3) Who will be the SCRUM master for the SCRUM of SCRUMs. Will a vlounteering approach work for this?. Should it be left to the team to decide?

4) Should I go for scrum teams spanning across geographies (add benefits being multi cultural teams, proximity to the product owner to atleast part of the team)  OR should the SCRUM teams be geographically bounded for better face2face communication, reduction of time zone issues, cultural issues etc.

These are some of the vital stretegic level challenges posed while working with large distributed teams. If someone has experienced these challenges, please share.

Confessions of a SCRUM master – Halo effect

When a team is transitioning from the conventional predictive project management to the adaptive style based on SCRUM method – very often it is like releasing a parrot under captivity. Suddenly the parrot gets absolute freedom and at the same time it is not conditioned to enjoy the new found freedom. It still thinks that it is under captivity. It has to stregthen the muscles required to fly in a world of unlimited freedom and opportunities to excellence.

When the daily scrum meetings happen, most of the members – if they are new to the team, still follow the reporting attitude – and keep reporting what Iam supposed to do, What I did and the problems I faced – to the SCRUM master only, without any eye contact with the rest of the team. Even if the SCRUM master do not want to be seen as a command and control freak, the rest of the team still see him as a command and control freak – which is hang over from the previous predictive project management styles he/she was practising. One of the very effective tactic (fix) to de-promote this behavior by the rest of the team is to avoid the eye contact with the person who is ‘talking to you’ in a SCRUM meeting, thus forcing her to look at the rest of the team members – contributing to the ‘self directed team’ spirit.

Sania Mirza ! It is not all work !!!!!


I am posting this link to remind myself and to all those who read this that life is not all work –  it is work and play – the moment you are unable to differentiate between what is work and what is play – then most probably you are at the right professional position. Winners have to take risk and cut loose ! . You can never hit an ace nor a six, without taking some risk.  Enjoy work, life and play.  Please dare to cut loose. Remember the assurance by God almighty! ‘If Iam with you, who can be against you!’. If you believe in something, you will get it. Do believe in something worth while. Please stop carrying stones and start building cathedrals!.  I love you. God bless you.  I am cutting loose. I am being ruthlessly honest !

SCRUM primer 1.0

Here is a link to SCRUM primer 1.0 which explains the advantages of SCRUM when compared to waterfall and the key roles, principles, activities and artifacts of SCRUM. A very good read.


SCRUM sux – 4

As per Peter Senge , every reinforcing action has a balancing action – and there is a time lag between this. In SCRUM scenarios, when the pigs does lot of good work and progresses, if the organizational climate is not conducive, the insecurity levels of the chcikens can build up over a period of time and can reach the tipping point on a fine day, which acts as a counter force. If this balancing force is strong enough, it can push back whatever progress you have made so far.  When you see a big calm on chickens part for a while, dont assume that the organizational transformation has happened – it can be just the waiting time before the chickens strike back !

SCRUM smells when (3)

SCRUM smells when the SCRUM team awaits for orders from else where to start their work.

Self directed teams is the heart of SCRUM and self directed teams self organizes to tackle problems and move forward. While practising SCRUM, initially the teams which are only used to ‘manager’s direction’ still waits for commands to proceed. It takes a paradigm shift for the conventional teams to get into a self organizing mode.

SCRUM smells when list – (2)

SCRUM smells in an outsourced environment when the ‘SUPPLIER’ team start to implement SCRUM, by following the orders from ‘CUSTOMER’ team.

In this kind of environments where outsourced work is being performed off shore and on site, in a joint application development mode, the off shore team tend to “follow” the on site team. The symptom of this is hearing ‘This is how our customers / parent company does it” from the senior team members.

My SCRUM smells when list (1)

There is already a scrum smells list – by Michael Cohn and I want to add a few more to the scrum smells list :-).

SCRUM smells, when chickens try to impose excess focus on tool usage by SCRUM teams, than allowing the teams to self organize and decide what they should be doing.  When I see some of the threads in SCRUM related yahoo groups, of late the focus is on how to fit EVM (earned value management) and RUP (rational unified process) to SCRUM teams.  This is against the fundamental principles of the SCRUM, which focuses on light weight processes and tools + pigs deciding on what is really useful to the project.

The Toyota Way by Jeffrey K. Liker

I bought this book at Cochin International airport and it is a great buy.  The application of the Toyota way to software engineering is the heart of most of the agile methodologies. Here are some of the quotes from this great book, by Dr.Liker after spending 20 years at Toyota.

” We place the highest value on actual implementation and taking action. There are many things which one does not understand and therefore, we ask them why dont you just go ahead and take action; try to do something?. You realize how little you know and you face your own failures and you simply can correct those failures and redo it again and at the second trial you realize another mistake or another thing you did not like so you can redo it once again. So by constant improvement based upon action, one can rise to the higher level of practice and knowledge” – Fujio Cho, President, Toyota Motor Corporation, 2002

US clears Jet Airways flights

” New Delhi, Nov 16: After months of delay, the United states on Thursday finally granted permission to leading domestic airline Jet airways to start operating flights to the U.S”. This is really fantastic. The kind of excellent service most of the Indian companies like Jet, Paramount,Kingfisher are offering is simply world class. Nothing to beat them. Yesterday I took the Paramount from Kochi to Chennai, and the flight was a very good experience. All the seats were business class, excellent food, excellent crew from the check in counter and in the flight, always at your service with a smiling face. This is really in contrast to some of the experiences I had with Gulf air, which is operating in the international sector for decades. Once when the steward offered me drinks, he just asked whisky,beer, wine and in reply I asked for the brand of whisky they are serving. He got offended and started abusing me subtley by saying “Oh you drink only Jack Daniels, Chivas”.  If you want the worst experience, in a gulf air flight, please ask for the customer feedback form. You had it. Why that, just try calling the air hostell using the calling bell/indicator. I experienced all these in the Gulf – India sector and may be their attitude in other sectors may be excellent. They are forgetting the fact that, irrespective of the nationality, any one on board have paid for the ticket and deserve professional service. I was told by a friend of mine in Jet airways that they have one of the best training facilities in the world at their training facility at Mumbai. Many of the international airline train their cabin crew there. Iam sure that the indian aviation industry has the potential to follow the foot steps of the IT revolution that is happening here. Our president Abdul Kalam’s vision is to make our own passenger aircraft soon. Good luck Indian aviation industry. Already you are much much better than many…Keep up the good work and march forward….

If today is my first day and last day

Yesterday night I had a very bad dream of a plane crash and today Iam supposed to take a flight to Chennai to conduct a workshop on software estimation there. It is an already declared program and I cannot go back on my decision. The only option available for me is to be ready for the worst, in case it happens. Suddenly my attitude towards the people around me and the surroundings changed. I went for a mass in the church the words “Lord, I dont know whether I will come back to attend another mass again” had a maximum impact on me. Suddenly my love for all around me is at it’s peak. All of a sudden, the wealth I have do not have much meaning. I am able to appreciate the folly in whiling away precious time.

On one side, Iam able to look at things and people as if, Iam seeing them for the last time. When this is happening on one end, I am also starting to see lot of things for the first time, like the futility of accumulating wealth, which is of no use to anyone, the futility of waiting for that successful day, when you want to enjoy life, the futility of not doing, what you really want to do, the futility of not expressing the love and care to someone whom you love, the futility of revenge, the futility of not starting the project which is dear to you……

With this frame of mind (if today is my last day on planet earth), Iam able to see lot of things as if it is my first day on planet earth.

Life can be lot easier, if we can live our days, as if, every day is a gift, which will not come back again.