- What Assessments Do
- The Four Principal Functions of Assessments
- The Analytical Function of Assessments
- Assessments Function as Fulcrums of Positive Change
- Assessments Transform Organizations by the Way They Work
- Assessments Educate as They Analyze, Motivate, and Transform
- Why Gaming the Results of an Assessment Doesn't Help (Though Many Try)
- Can Assessments Really Change an Organization? A Preview of an Extended Case History to Be Found in Chapter 12
- Bottom-Line Profit and Cost Numbers: Assessments Pay
1.8 Can Assessments Really Change an Organization? A Preview of an Extended Case History to Be Found in Chapter 12
Chapter 12 supplies an elaborate case history of the way that a program of reiterated assessments not only improved the maturity level of the software division of a major defense company ("Organization Z") but also made it a more efficient, happier, and more profitable place to work. That transformation may be briefly summarized according to the four principal functions of assessments provided previously.
The analytical power of a Level 3 assessment demonstrated real gaps between Organization Z's perception of its own processes and the way those processes really operated. For example, the assessment revealed problems with the organization's information and authority structures that involved project managers who had in effect absolved themselves of responsibility for software issues and software managers who were unaware that their engineers were not using the company's software processes. The assessment encouraged these problems to be addressed and rectified, and a second assessment encouraged Organization Z to utilize its reorganization to exploit the power of quantitative management and to create feedback loops for continuous improvement.
The force of these analyses derived not just from the assessment's power to probe issues that the organization could confront on its own, but also from an integrated vision of how software operations ought to work provided by the assessment's reference model.
1.8.2 Initiation of Positive Change
The shock of Organization Z's first assessment made its executives and project managers reevaluate the organization's management structure. That shock enabled the organization to reorganize the way one level of management reported to the next. After the first assessment, the President of Organization Z came to use his own authority to redress the organization's problems. But he did so principally because the need for the improvement was conveyed during the assessment by the organization's full ladder of personnel, middle managers, and executives. Many of these people already knew what was wrong before the assessment, but it was the assessment itself that consolidated their energies in the direction of positive change.
1.8.3 Positive Transformation
The structural transformation undertaken by Organization Z began with the procedures imposed by the assessment itself. Conducted in a way that related each project to the organizational and administrative capabilities of the entire group, the assessment launched Organization Z into a full rethinking of how its different parts and functions related to each other.
None of these advances would have proceeded without the artificially intense education that the organization had received during a series of assessmentsan education that synthesized and transmitted the current state of software practice.
Organization Z chose to change when it recognized the deficiencies of its own operation in relation to other, more successful software operations around the world. The organization's personnel had been shocked, and their ways of thinking had been transformed, but ultimately it was the taste of increased success and the lure of a more profitable operation that motivated them to improve.
1.8.5 A Continuous Program of Assessment and Improvement
Organization Z's improvement finally was facilitated not by a single assessment but by the organization's decision to begin a cyclical program of assessment and improvement. In this process, the second and each subsequent assessment and health check functioned not as wake-up calls but rather as exercises in course correction. All of them reinforced the improvements already under way at the same time that they communicated a sense that new improvements would extend initiatives undertaken in the first cycle.