Authored by George Zack, President Two Harbors Consulting – As we have set for the question, “can the frameworks you utilize for business process improvement be leveraged for your personal life,” we will now start to explore that in detail. In this series of posts, I will work through each of the elements of a what the Capability Maturity Model (CMMI) considers a managed or defined process. The goal of this series is to provoke thought how the elements of such generic practices are not only applicable to business, but can have bearing on your personal life. By tying these practices to you personally, I believe it will drive a greater understanding in how they are to be applied in the business setting.
When a colleague of mine and I started this thought experiment, we were specifically pondering if the generic practices of the CMMI framework were applicable to any process, and we were going to test that through our physical fitness programs. We were both pretty dedicated to improving personal fitness, but in very significantly different regards. He was a body builder. I was a distance runner.
This set up for an interesting conversation. There was much in how we approached personal fitness that was common: discipline, consistency, focus, diet, addressing weaknesses, but what we actually did was dramatically different. He spent hours in the gym pushing weights. I spent hours on the roads and trails pushing miles.
The CMMI framework establishes that an element of a managed process is to “Establish and maintain an organizational policy for planning and performing the process.” (see footnote 1 below)
So what was our policy of personal fitness? In our work lives we had seen many business policies that drummed out the typical, “we aim to be the leading blah blah provider that exceeds the customer expectations and is number one in our segment.” Or a policy that stated something like “We will identify objects for configuration management and put them in the CM system.” In the classic “it depends” response of many improvement approaches, it is true that there are circumstances where those policies could meet the needs of the organization. But we agreed that having a simple policy in our cases “to be as fit as possible” was not an appropriate statement of our individual policy given our very different aspirations. I recognized in fact that my policy for what sort of runner I was changed from year to year or season to season. My pursuit to win the local mile race on the track was significantly different than how I approached completing the Leadville 100 mile run. Fitness there was different and arguably while it was all running, the applicable policy was different. The point be it the definition of a policy for your business, a specific process, a personal pursuit or growth initiative – ask those “W” questions to help define that policy. My colleague was defining a personal fitness policy that would get him to win body building competitions. My running policies last summer were geared towards ultra distance running pursuits in the Colorado Rockies.
Determining what your policy is similar to leveraging the Covey 2nd Habit of “Begin With The End In Mind.” What is the goal? What is your objective? Consider this in your fitness program. Or in the other examples previously cited … What is your goal in your involvement in your child’s school, or a social outreach program, your personal academic study, your drive to execute your job or to achieve a particular position in your career field or a professional license, or your plans to put a deck on your house or a back yard project?
Or a business process.
Footnote 1 – some more text on the purpose of establishing and maintaining policies: “The purpose of this generic practice is to define the organizational expectations for the process and make these expectations visible to those members of the organization who are affected. In general, senior management is responsible for establishing and communicating guiding principles, direction, and expectations for the organization. Not all direction from senior management will bear the label “policy.” The existence of appropriate organizational direction is the expectation of this generic practice, regardless of what it is called or how it is imparted. “