Saturday, September 3, 2011

CMMI = Control & Agile = {Collaboration/Cultivation}

Pete Behrens gave a talk on The Culture of Agility @Agile2011 that left me thinking on the topic of my latest posts, the relationship between CMMI and Agile.

In his presentation, he shows a quadrant which contains 4 different types of cultures:

And he defined certain characteristics for each culture. Look the characteristics for a control culture:

This really looks like CMMI, right?. "Policy and procedures are extremely important", "The system is more important than people" (these phrases really sound as the explanation that CMMI gives as to why processes are so important "What holds everything together? It is the processes used in your organization. Processes allow you to align the way you do business. They allow you to address scalability and provide a way to incorporate knowledge of how to do things better. Processes allow you to leverage your resources and to examine business trends.")

Look now the characteristics of a Collaboration Culture:

And the Cultivation Culture:

These really look like Agile, right?

Look now the characteristics of personal and impersonal cultures:

These one's REALLY looked like Agile on the left side and CMMI on the right side. It is clear that CMMI would fit a control culture much better than a collaboration/cultivation culture and , inversely, Agile fits perfectly on collaboration/cultivation cultures. It's clear how Agile is "Personal", while CMMI is "Impersonal".

So what about compatibility. From the perspective of culture, what is the result of combining them?

I can imagine a couple of scenarios. In a collaboration/cultivation culture, applying CMMI would push the organization culture towards a more Control/Impersonal culture. From the other side, a control organization (which may be CMMI certified, as it's totally compliant) and wants to become more Agile may encounter a CMMI an obstacle.

So in the culture context, I see the 2 forces going in opposite directions.

Could this be synergetic or complementary or the effect would be the total opposite? Could this lead to an undefined culture or to an organization where employees are confused on their culture and values?