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1.7 Why Gaming the Results of an Assessment Doesn't Help (Though Many Try)

The trigger for assessments quite often comes from an outside organization or from a higher level of the same company or corporate group. The need to achieve a maturity level frequently seems as if it has become a criterion for doing business. As a result, organizations are sometimes dragged into assessments against their will and naturally respond by an attempt to "game" the assessment—to represent the organization as functioning at a higher maturity level than is really the case.

The bulk of this chapter should have already demonstrated that this is a perversion of the assessment process—a process aimed at helping to motivate organizations to improve themselves, which can only be accomplished with an honest effort. Organizations may in the short term fool an authorizing agency, but in the long term, they only cheat themselves, in the process discouraging their quality motivated personnel and making efforts at real improvement much harder after their deception is recognized. Chapters 4 through 11 of this book contain numerous examples of how companies unsuccessfully tried to "game" better results. It can all be summed up very simply: "Gaming" leads to nothing more than frustration, and it damages more than it helps.


Organization A exerted every effort over eight years to position and distort the results of numerous assessments. It tried to dismiss every honest assessor and derail every objective assessment, and it eventually succeeded in arranging to be audited rather than assessed. It then doctored its documentation and tutored its personnel in what to say. The audit certified that it was a "Level 5 Organization," and the organization's manager was over the moon. Less than a year later, however, corporate headquarters realized that Organization A was still producing products of inferior quality—over schedule and over budget—and reassigned all of its projects. The organization wasted many years and millions of dollars that might have turned it into a first-rate software house to achieve a false certification—and ended up with nothing. The manager of Organization A is now looking for another job.

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