When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

02 July 2005

The Capability Immaturity Model

For the last year, I've been doing a lot of process improvement work, much of it focused on the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). You can (and should) read all about CMMI at the SEI's site, but briefly, it's a way of assessing an organization's maturity with respect to its development processes; a rating on a scale of 1 to 5 is assigned, higher numbers representing higher levels of process maturity.

I have long joked with colleagues that the CMMI model ought to take negative numbers into account.

Well, it turns out that somebody (probably several somebodies) had this idea before I did. One of them, CPT Thomas M. Schorsch, USAF, published an article about it. Almost ten years ago.

Just to whet your appetite, here are the summary descriptions of Schorsch's Immaturity Levels:
Level 0. Negligent
Characteristic: Indifference
Description: Failure to allow successful development process to succeed. All problems are perceived to be technical problems. Managerial and quality assurance activities are deemed to be overhead and superfluous to the task of software development process. Reliance on silver pellets.

Level -1. Obstructive
Characteristic: Counterproductive
Description: Counterproductive processes are imposed. Processes are rigidly defined and adherence to the form is stressed. Ritualistic ceremonies abound. Collective management precludes assigning responsibility. Status quo ├╝ber alles.

Level -2. Contemptuous
Characteristic: Arrogance
Description: Disregard for good software engineering institutionalized. Complete schism between software development activities and software process improvement activities. Complete lack of a training program.

Level -3. Undermining
Characteristic: Sabotage
Description: Total neglect of own charter, conscious discrediting of peer organization's software process improvement efforts. Rewarding failure and poor performance.
Go read the article right now. If you've ever done any process improvement work in your career, you'll appreciate it deeply.

(By the way, it seems that Captain Schorsch is now Lt. Col. Thomas M. Schorsch, Ph.D, and is on the faculty of the Air Force Institute of Technology. Good for him.)

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