Case Study - Leading People
My best example of Leading People is referencing the same CMMI implementation project as stated in my response to ECQ 1 - Leading Change. This project required me to manage a dedicated and matrixed, multi-layer organization that spanned business and functional units. My direct team included a deputy project manager, a CMMI architect leader, a configuration control leader, a quality assurance leader, and six team leaders. In addition, I held a dotted line responsibility to five Business Unit (BUs) team leaders, with their 25+ staff each. This team was responsible for implementing CMMI practices within their respective organizations, and serving as a change agent to alter how we performed our software development work.
There were multiple business, technical, professional, and personal perspectives to address. Some staff was gung-hoe, while others saw the effort just more work. Some looked for opportunities to implement positive change, while others sought the easy road of maintaining the established norm. Some saw opportunities for professional growth, and others felt the product would just be put on the shelf after it was completed.
My primary challenge was to unite and educate this team of 170+ professionals to the value of CMMI, such that they became excited about the opportunities, became individual advocates and change agents in their respective organizations, and executed the project plan to achieve success.
The context for this initiative was the full complement of 125+ software developers embedded within business units, and my 45 enterprise IT staff. This group was responsible for gaining CMMI expertise, and developing our new methodology. They were also responsible for working with BUs team leaders to ensure our new practices supported the realities of communicating, documenting, and delivering accurate business solutions.
I had to lead a large team with varied perspectives, capabilities, and interests. I had to integrate them within BUs and facilitate collaboration and mutual development efforts. And I had to maintain the information flow with executive leadership.
The first step was to get the team and staff to the right level of CMMI knowledge such they could successfully execute their tasks. I initiated a Training, Education, and Awareness Campaign (TEAC). Formal training from our CMMI Consultant was provided to staff that needed a significant level of expertise and a rapid start-up. Education was provided both formally and informally by our CMMI Consultant and our trained staff to indoctrinate them to CMMI and the specific process areas that related to their specific tasks. Awareness training was provided by team leaders to BU staff to both give them a high-level overview, and show them where they would contribute. TEAC was the first part of socializing CMMI and getting everyone on the same page. This also contributed to team building as it got everyone talking about it in the hallways. Staff was learning from each other, which supported developing others and team building.
I established multiple methods of communication that appropriately targeted different groups so as to provide them the right amount of communication, and draw out their experience and strengths. I communicated and collaborated with a number of internal and external entities in socializing and gaining support for this initiative. These groups included Aspen executive, business, and technology leadership, software development teams, Federal Government customers, and CMMI vendor partners. My primary focus with each group was to gain an understanding their goals and strategies, and shape my communication to emphasize the value and opportunities that could be gained from the initiative.
Some staff was well-indoctrinated into existing processes that worked well, and other had played a role in developing these processes, so there was some reluctance to change. So a key element of my approach to manage this conflict was not to disparage any practices, but to focus them on identifying the "best of" and relate them to CMMI. We looked at how to take what worked well and shape CMMI around it. I also challenged them with contests on which team could reduce the greatest number of manual processes, or number of steps in a process. These efforts helped to ease the conflict and get the individuals to "own" the goal and outcome.
Leading an enterprise-wide project, and leading a team of 170+ members ensured opportunities to leverage diversity. The team was composed of individuals with ranges of educational, professional, socio-economic, and ethnic backgrounds. I treated each member of the team as an individual and encouraged them to leverage their skills and experience. I recognized and rewarded those who offered strong ideas, or delivered beyond the norm. I also leveraged diversity by drawing on different perspectives and experience from executive, business, and technical leadership and staff, and their varied levels of experience, job responsibility perspectives, innovations, and best practices.
Developing others In determining my project team, I reviewed staff career development plans, supervisor recommendations, and relevant experience for being team leaders. This was one example of developing others. I also provided formal training on CMMI to key staff. The staff that had formal training was also required to conduct educational classes for other colleagues. This helped them reinforce their training. I created development plans for staff that would lead tasks and process areas, rewarded them with training, promotions, and new opportunities. The plans focused on skill development for Strategic Thinking, Relationship Building, Leading a Team, Delivering Results, and Modeling Personal Excellence.
Team Building was accomplished through the creation of teams with diverse representation. I communicated the vision, goals, strategies, roles and responsibilities, and requirements, provided them the resources to succeed, and empowered them to explore, question established norms, collaborate with other teams and functional and business staff, and derive a new "to be" state that both met requirements, and represented how we should be operating. These teams were given authority to define the processes, templates, and tools within their respective areas. They were required to provide evidence of compliance.
ResultThe initiative resulted in the creation, implementation, and adoption of a single software development methodology across the enterprise, and a successful SCAMPI appraisal. Many team members expressed new-found respect and trust for organizations and people. They had built new relationships that led to new work initiatives. They had a great confidence in the CMMI methodology as they had created it. New leaders were found and given new opportunities. The BUs staff had a greater knowledge of and respect for the software development process. Overall, several hundred staff got to know each other better, better understood each other goals, priorities, and challenges, and established a platform for better communication, collaboration, and achieving our customer and business success.