New Ideas Emerging at SEPG Europe

Regardless of venue, country, time of year, or language, SEPG Europe continues to demonstrate itself as a valuable event for exchanging ideas and making  progress in the field of performance excellence.  It’s a clear indicator of the value of SEPG Europe that attendance at this year’s event both doubled from last year’s event and exceded all headcount-based logistics planned for the event.  This, despite the sputtering global economy, in particular Portugal’s current banking challenges.

Conference-related activities for SEPG Europe 2010 began with pre-conference activities and tutorials on Monday, official tutorials on Tuesday, then keynotes, mini-tutorials and sessions on Wednesday.  This entry comes on the morning of the last formal conference day, Thursday, after experiencing Wednesday’s keynotes, a full day of sessions and mini-tutorials, and the event’s gala dinner.

In particular, I want to focus on common threads heard throughout the week, what they mean to those of us in the field, and why it’s only at SEPG events where these ideas can reach critical mass.

The common threads

CMMI, appraisals, and the focus on “process” are, together, insufficient to meet the needs of today’s businesses and still relevant.

Insufficient because, alone, they can miss attributes important to business, and can inadvertently place too little emphasis on performance and results.  Still relevant because, without them there would be no robust, complete product set of performance improvement tools in the marketplace.

What these threads tie into is the experience that the market for performance excellence is ready for the “next evolution” of CMMI and SCAMPI and other process-oriented models and tools.  The market is ready for a way of looking at performance excellence that is appropriately applied in ultra-large systems as well as small and/or agile systems/organizations.   An approach that emphasises restuls rather than compliance, and an approach that looks at the entire business, including its market, culture, social economics, leadership, management, customers, relationships and other behavioral sciences.

By no means is this to imply that CMMI and SCAMPI are wrong.  They are widely acknowledged and credited as a necessary step in the evolutionary path of performance excellence thinking.  And, some flavor of CMMI and SCAMPI will most certainly persist as a necessary component of a broader focus on improvements.  All this is actually saying is that the market has absorbed the lessons of CMMI and SCAMPI and they’re ready for more.  They’re ready for what’s coming next, and they want to be part of shaping it.

A lot of the hallway conversations I’ve had have been about just this.  They’re about “what’s next?”   What’s after version 1.3?  It’s not clear what’s coming after v1.3, but what is clear is that whatever v.NEXT looks like, the ideas for what will be in it (by any name or version) will have roots at events like SEPG-Europe.

People here are clearly thinking ahead.  They’re thirsty for making progress.

What the common threads mean to those of us in the field

Those of us who provide consulting, instruction and appraisals in CMMI and SCAMPI wares, or who are internal to companies implementing improvements will be impacted by these threads in a number of ways.  Including, a potential wholesale change in what will be a “model” for improvement and its related appraisal approach.  Another impact would be the possibly broader reach of areas of improvement into aspects of business currently unfamiliar to organizations or professionsals in the field.

Furthermore, the business impact of the v.NEXT model could be a body of work that raises the stakes and the perview of where the model seeks to have an impact.  In other words, it could be a model that’s much more business-oriented and “systemic” than it currently and would require skills and aptitudes for implementation not demanded by the current frameworks.  It could become a model for which it’s not enough to be a model subject-matter expert, but also requires that users be equally versed in business as they are in performance improvement.

The core concepts in CMMI today are not likely to disappear, rather, they’re more likely to be absorbed into a more broadly-minded view of causing performance excellence.

Why SEPG events are where the critical mass is reached

Unlike any other type of events, at SEPG events there are presentations, discussions, new ideas and the direct interaction among users, practitioners, business leaders, government, academia, many industries, and the SEI.  Face-to-face, high-bandwidth communication and incidental interactions made possible by SEPG events are unlike any other events because SEPGs are focused exclusively on improvement.  It’s a conversation at a higher level.  The ideas for such a higher level of thinking in v.NEXT will be where the SEI gets its ideas.  These are the types of conversations taking place at SEPG Europe which is why I attend.  I attend so I can return to my office and my clients with new ideas and a glimpse of where things are going.

Until v.NEXT is reality, we can muse philosophically over what will be in it over glasses of the fine Porto port wines.

Hillel Glazer, Principal & CEO
Entinex, Inc.
Leaning, Aligning, and Delivering Value.(TM)

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