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1.4 Integrate Leadership

Ultimately, improvements must be integrated at all levels. To succeed, your SPI efforts must be consistent with your organization's strategy and vision of the future. Although SPI is focused on software practices, software organizations have other concerns as well. New technologies emerge, new markets develop, and alliances and mergers with other companies occur. Moreover, in many organizations, software development is not the core business but rather is one among many functions aimed at the organization's overall goals. Given this, SPI initiatives risk getting in the way of other organizational initiatives. To prevent this, leadership should be integrated at all levels (see Figure 1.4).

Our primary concern here is management's ability to use leadership to motivate and set direction. When your SPI vision and your organization's overall strategic vision are aligned, management can be integrated at all levels. In our experience, a good vision is closely linked to how leaders perceive the existence of people in the organization. It is not enough to build a vision. As a leader, you must base your vision on the organization's reality and present the vision in a way that motivates others to both understand and believe in it.

Examples from Practice

At Danske Data, top management endorsed and supported the SPI initiative from the start. For example, the CEO spoke at the workshop where Danske Data's standard for project management was created (see Chapter 5). This ensured that the initiatives around project management—such as establishing the PMC Center—were consistent with the overall company strategy. However, it is also fair to say that in this case, middle management did not share the SPI vision and generally ignored the SPI effort's existence.

Figure 1.4 SPI Requires Integrated Leadership

Another example of leadership comes from Systematic. From the beginning, Systematic's CEO was keen to achieve CMM maturity level 3 (see Chapter 4) and to include customers in the improvement process (see Chapter 13). These aims were woven into all the organization's plans and actions. Because the organizational vision and the SPI vision were aligned, Systematic could set ambitious goals and move forward. Furthermore, Systematic's CEO walked his talk. When an assessment identified project management as a problem, the CEO invited several suppli-ers to compete to deliver a project-management training program. Within a year, more than half of Systematic's project managers had completed 12 days of inten-sive training.

Key Factors

The most important leadership quality is the ability to communicate. Managing, controlling, and monitoring do not a leader make. Leaders need vision and the skills to communicate that vision throughout organization. According to Kotter, any type of change requires 75% leadership and only 25% management (Kotter 1996). SPI visions, plans, and achievements should be widely communicated. To maintain attention and commitment, you should produce results regularly and disseminate them widely.

Leadership is undermined by a lack of management commitment and the Balkan syndrome. At Ericsson Denmark, management was committed, but the commitment was wildly unfocused. At one point, there were six key process activities (KPAs) on the SPI agenda, plus several critical success factors and a few "vital few actions" (see Chapter 3). This scattered commitment made the SPI effort confusing at both the project and the organization level. It was not until the responsible manager outlined a simple and clear strategy—achieve maturity level 2 before summer—that change and improvement began. Such a lack of management commitment is not limited to top management; it might also apply to middle management or any type of supporting staff.

The Balkan syndrome is common in software organizations. It occurs when each group or department has its own way of doing things and develops individual professional standards. Without strong leadership, improvement efforts tend to diverge and common commitment disappears. Although you must take variations and differences into account, you should do so only when necessary. When projects learn from each other and processes are reused across the organization, you can better focus energies when difficult challenges arise.

Broader Insights

This principle is grounded in strategic theories that consider not only an organization and its environment (see Ansoff 1988) but also internal factors such as organizational structures, production processes, and technology (c.f. Chandler 1962, Scott 1987). Furthermore, we view the strategic plan not as the most important part of strategy but rather as an outcome of an ongoing process of integration and reorientation. For SPI to succeed, it must be an integral part of the organization's strategic leadership.

Organizational leadership involves the ability to build a shared vision and to identify prevailing mental models that need to be challenged. In a learning organization, leaders "are part of changing the way business operates, not from a vague philanthropic urge, but from a conviction that their efforts will produce more productive organizations, capable of achieving higher levels" (Senge 1990).

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