Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Five Process Levels

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), is a global process and behavioral model Kakie Fitzsimmons CMMIestablished by the CMMI Institute. For many years, it has ebeen used by leadership and top-performing organizations to build capabilities that address business challenges and help them meet the goals of an organization and increase efficiency.

The process model in the image above provides guidance on what organization leaders can do to improve business process maturity, increase adoption and optimize performance. The idea is that if companies have systematic, repeatable business processes, the result is positive, predictable outcomes that save companies time and money while increasing efficiency.

This model has applications in change management and projects, programs.

The model is not prescriptive, but instead, provide general guidelines that help in understanding how processes are document and aids in creating a culture of continuous improvement.

Each maturity level represents a path of progress that builds off of the previous one and helps organizations provide structure to monitor and document how achievements are met and sustained.

Enterprise Change Management w Organizational Agility as Strategy

I recently met Tim Creasey, who facilitated two days worth of advanced change management certification workshops, a change summit and round table discussions for The Minnesota Change Management Kakie Fitzsimmons and Tim Creasey during Prosci Advanced change management workshopNetwork. We had rich discussions about the past, present and future of Enterprise Change Management and Organizational Agility as a strategy.

On the first day, an executive breakfast was held at Target Corporation where Tim broke down change management as a capability into four eras that included pre-1990’s, 1990’s, 2000’s and 2012 and beyond. He then went on to discuss the topic of Organizational Agility as a Strategic Imperative. He presented different definitions of agility, along with the many pillars various enterprises use to build agility in institutions along with the diverse ways they think about what it means to be agile. A huge take away was a shared concept of thinking about agility as a state of being.

One good question that Tim asked was “How many projects in your organizations’ impact just one area?” Of course, the response from the crowd was laughter and then our small groups led to rich discussions about complexity that encompasses market volatility, increased amounts of information and communication, varying levels of leadership commitment, how are changes triggered, launched and funded, different ways change is governed and whether it is integrated into an organizations governance structure, we talked about ways to find the pockets of support that can exist in organizations, change and project methodologies, maturity and application of change and project management, deciphering and translating how different leaders are interpreting what the same change means for them.

In Enterprise Change Management, we integrate change into projects, programs and across releases, which means there are three very important words to take in context when working to obtain executive buy-in.

  1. Context_Gap_between_what_Project_&_Change_Management_DeliverContext – the way we have a conversation about change management should be relevant to that person, so when we tell a story it must be in a context that matters to them. This is why it is essential to have the ear and attention of executive sponsors early in the process because how they are processing what the change means is critical to the way we will work with them. It is easy to say that we focus on the people side of change, but that means different things to a lot of people. Employee engagement? Morale? Training? Communication? Adoption? While all of those factors may be important to senior leaders, it will mean more when we stay focused on their desired outcomes that demonstrate what we deliver, how we will integrate change to ensure it is sustainable so realization of benefits will add value to the organization. ROI, results, etc. All of this context is important because according to Prosci’s annual benchmarking research on change, the greatest overall contributor to project success is active and visible sponsorship.
  2. Language – How we talk about change and how we tell the story of change management matters, so we need to make it a point to understand the language used in the organization. Many will agree that using too much “change management terminology,” (academic or otherwise), or throwing change curves in front of people results in that look where eyes are suddenly glossed over and we have lost them.
  3. Problems – It is essential to have clarity in understanding the problem they are trying to solve because if we are there, it isn’t that they don’t have change management. What is their expected return on the initiatives? The killer questions of what the Return on Investment (ROI) % will depend on how to change behaviors are adopted by people in ways that will make it sustainable.

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Things Change, People Transition: Change as a Process

In general, change isn’t complicated, but it is complex. In its simplest form we use terms Ways people respond to changelike; to alter, shift, adjust, move, switch, transfer, etc. Change is a transformation or transition from one phase, condition, or state, to another.

From a change management perspective, assumptions that each individual impacted by a new initiative will always experience change on time, on budget and on schedule, is flawed, because this approach lacks context and doesn’t always consider the people side of change. It may not consider outcomes and results after the change or ask what behaviors need to change and be sustained. Organizational and personal change have to be approached and measured differently . The model is not linear and no two individuals move through each phase the same.

Organizational and personal change have to be approached and measured differently because no one will embrace or resist change the same.Behavior doesn’t happen in a predictive order and as a result, it is imperative to think about change as a process, rather than a project.

Things change. People transition.

The change curve was created in the 1960s by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross as a way to explain the grieving process. Over time, it has evolved as a tool to help people understand responses and reactions to significant change. The curve is a way to understand how people transition and that getting from point A to point B can be complex.

Kakie Fitzsimmons ADKAR Change ManagementSince change is a non-linear process, some people may take two steps forward and one step back along this curve for a number of reasons.

Being successful and getting to the reinforcement and sustain page requires a number of important inputs some of which could include the following.


  1. Leadership alignment  – Does leadership agree on the messaging and go forward plan? Is that senior leader in charge accessible and available to the change leaders?
  2. Communication – Ensuring the right messaging goes to the right people at the right time from the right leader.
  3. Integration – research demonstrates that when project and change management are successfully brought together, the changes can be up to 97% more successful.
  4. Active listening – Is there a two way flow of communication that allows the people on the front lines to be seen and heard?
  5. Involvement– Has everyone involved in the change had the opportunity to heavy input so they feel they are part of the process?

If you found this post hought-provoking, please share it with others and thank you for visiting my blog!

Individual and Organizational Change Management Integration Plan

Kakie Fitzsimmons Prosci Individual and Organizational Change Management Integration Plan

The complexity that accompanies change and the process that goes along with it means different things to different people. As a result, it is important to view change through two lenses ;  individuals, and organizations because they are parts of a complex system. This intricacy blends art, science, culture, inputs, outputs, feedback, leadership, strategy, governance, competency, internal and external forces, change impacts, individual needs, and values, management practices, change activities, skills, communications planning and more. Read more of this post

Root Cause Analysis – Getting to the Why

There are many ways to approach problem-solving, one of which we often use in business, is called Root Cause Analysis. Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a systemic approach and a way of linear thinking that gets to the bottom of why a something occurs and figuring out what might be done to prevent these problems in the future. Below is one five-step process used to solve for RCA.Root-Cause-Analysis-Getting-to-the-why

1.  Clearly define the problem:

  • What is happening?
  • What symptoms come along with what is happening?

2.  Collect and analyze the data:

  • How long has this problem existed?
  • What is the impact of this problem?
  • What can we learn about it?

3.  Determine possible causes by asking “Why?” continually until you can go no further:

  • What happened first, second, third that brought us to this setback?
  • What conditions are allowing this to occur?
  • Why?  Why?   Why??

4.  Identify the root cause:

  • What is responsible for the problems identified in #3?

5.  Brainstorm & implement solutions to fix it

Engagement: Change Management and Project Integration

Change Management and Project Plan IntegrationFocusing on the people side of change is arguably one of the most important tasks as we begin phase one of preparing for a change initiative (as seen in the slide below). In the early phases of a project, we are seeking to understand the nature of the change and preparing the organization for it. Exceptional change management works when we partner with leadership to ensure timely and consistent messaging, early and often. In this illustration, I like to think of the section between project and change management as a zipper that will pull everything together.

According to Prosci’s annual benchmarking research on change, the greatest overall contributor to project success is active and visible sponsorshipAs facilitators’ of the change, we have a unique opportunity to bring sponsors along on the journey, providing guidance and giving them tools that will help to mitigate resistance, increase

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Change Management, Increasing Adoption and Commitment

Some days I have a “love-hate” relationship with blogging because it isn’t a clean, cut and dry process. Although I have an idea of what I want to write, it takes time to figure out how to put the words together.

Kakie Fitzsimmons ADKAR Change Management

Bird by Bird,” a book about writing by author Anne LaMott, contains a brilliant piece called; “Shitty First Drafts” (SFD) where she explains why the first draft we write is always the worst. It is usually longer than it needs to be, it may not flow well, etc. Towards the end of this excerpt, she states; “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something — anything — down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the downdraft — you just get it down. The second draft is the updraft — you fix it up.

In her book “Rising Strong,” Brene Brown applied Anne’s concept of SFD to our behaviors, which I believe could be an interesting application in change management resistance. For Brown, an SFD is the first story we make up in our heads before we have all the information needed to be pragmatic about the real story. When we realize we have an SFD, she recommends asking ourselves other questions such as:

  • What do I know objectively?
  • What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story?
  • What more do I need  to learn and understand about myself?

The concept of an SFD as applied by Brown aligns with how people handle change individually in the workplace.

When we are in phase 1: preparing for change, collaborative conversations center around outcomes so we have a clear definition of Read more of this post

Circles of Meaning

Once in a while, I like participating in the “Weekly Photo Challenge” over at The Daily Post. A new meme comes out each Friday and I think about the proposed topic. I wonder what I could say about it and what my readers will be interested in as well. This week, Cheri asks us to let a shape, a circle, inspire us.

Circles Change Management Business TimeI took this picture at the James J. Hill Business Library because it had a certain old world charm that grabbed my attention. I like the concept of time as it relates to the evolution of knowledge throughout the ages.

Circles have been used metaphorically since the beginning of history. In many cultures, they represent unity, enlightenment, divinity, and protection. At first glance, a circle can seem simple, yet they are one of the most common and universal signs used throughout the history of the world.

Circles have symbolic use in divinity: For example, with Taoism, the Yin Circles of Concern Influence Change ControlYang image embodies two forces in the universe that are opposites that balance one another. Hinduism uses the Dharma Chakra to represent the wheel of law that leads to enlightenment. Artists have used halos in Christianity and Buddhism to symbolize light and holiness. Paganism circles exemplified supernatural forces, and in ancient times Celtics stood inside of circles for protection. Read more of this post

NPR #SOTU Commentary: Cyberattacks, Risk, Offense and Defense

I.T.  Information Sharing and Project ManagementLast night in President Obama’s State of the Union Address, he issued an executive order which proposes to make our technology infrastructures stronger. The idea would initiate and encourage cross-sector information sharing. History has repeatedly demonstrated bringing professionals and information together merges ideas, creates knowledge and sparks innovation. This concept is not new, it is a form of an open architecture that has allowed our technology to emerge to where it is today.

As someone who as worked as a project manager (Business and I.T.) I can attest that this topic is intriguing and its complexity is wide and deep.  This morning I was listening to a story on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and I felt compelled enough to share. I encourage you to listen to it.

Please click on the link below and after you have heard what they have to say, come back and share your thoughts!

NPR: “Victims of Cyber Attacks get Proactive Against Intruders.

Thanks for visiting. Keep coming back!

Project Management Work Breakdown Structure

Work breakdown structure (WBS):  The deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the total scope work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables.

WBS purpose: Organizes and defines activities (the total scope of the project.)

WBS Component: An entry in the work breakdown structure that can be at any level

WBS dictionary: The artifact that provides detailed deliverable, activity and scheduling information about each component in the WBS to support the WBS.

Examples of what could be in the WBS Dictionary:

  • A code of account identifier
  • Description of work
  • Assumptions & constraints
  • Responsible organization
  • Milestones
  • Resources
  • Cost Estimates
  • Quality requirements
  • Acceptance criteria
  • Technical references
  • Agreement information

Work Package: The work defined at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure for which cost and duration can be estimated and managed

Project Management Sample High Level Work Breakdown Structure

Steps before beginning the WBS:

  1. Obtain charter approval
  2. Define the project requirements
  3. Form the core team
  4. Ask the team to list all work packages under their responsibilities so they can be combined to make the WBS.

-Source: PMBOK

Project Initiation and Stakeholders

Just to find something new - State of MindProject initiation is the first step in the project management process.  It is where we have to figure out who the key players will be on our team and how we are going to define the scope of the project. This is where we do a stakeholder analysis. A sample template of stakeholder analysis can be found at the Project Management Institute website.

I’d like to compare the stakeholder analysis to the game of chess. It is very strategic in nature, but in order to learn how to play, one has to know how to identify the difference between the rooks, king, queen, bishops, and pawns. Players need to know how to move around within the 64 squares of the board. In project management doing a stakeholder analysis is sort of like learning a chess game because a good project manager learns who the customers are and what resources are available, because resources will always be limited, so who you know and how you build relationships will matter.

Not all stakeholders have the same reason for participating in a project so it is important to understand why they are there and what motivates them. Having that knowledge will be helpful for figuring out how to manage them.  Looking for people with the right attitude will matter. For example, is there a way to know where they fall in the Meyers-Briggs scale or other tools to identify social styles? What are the social ‘norms’ of the organization? How do people communicate and interact? Some prefer face to face meetings, others email or voicemail. Keep track of this because it can be an important factor. Our expertise doesn’t have to be what we do for our job. It is about what the culture wants. Give rewards, find what people are doing right and they will do more.

Good questions to ask around the stakeholder analysis:

  1. Who are the stakeholders and how can we help them understand what is in it for them?
  2. How do they want to receive communication?
  3. Do stakeholders understand their roles in the project?
  4. Where do they fall in organizational hierarchy?
  5. What happens to the project if a stakeholder gets overlooked?
  6. Can anything be done to avoid missing stakeholders in the future?

Project Management Overview

PMI Certified Project ManagerOver a career we can manage many projects. In 2008 when I stepped into the world of job transition after being at the same company for several years and made a decision be obtain a project management certification. Initially, one of the bigger challenges was to learn new project management speak that wasn’t specific to one organization. Sometimes I led projects while other times I led the change in behaviors that were needed as a result of what was being implemented.

For those new to project management, it is confusing because we deal with loads of ambiguity and have to acknowledge the uncertainty that comes along with it. We are facilitators who bring it all together with people that don’t report to us, but who are accountable for activities, project tasks, and deliverables. We also deal with combined issues of managing project artifacts, analyzing risk, managing the time, cost or scope changes, tracking issues and decisions that need to be made, while keeping Sponsors, the Steering Committee and Stakeholders informed and engaged. We make decisions about allowing a project to unfold with many unknowns, or to ensure it stays on track.

Despite the ambiguity, what we do know about projects is that there are an understood beginning and a clear outcome.

The real opportunities are what happens between planning and implementation because that is the moving target.  In addition, every client has their own standards by which they manage projects. The tools will be different in each scenario, but the tools are not important because we have to use the right amount of project management knowledge in order to be successful.

According to the Project Management Institute, there are 5 internationally recognized best practices or stages of project management.  These Processes include:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Controlling
  5. Closing out

These 5 phases give us content, but it is often non-linear because so many things happen concurrently. We need these phases because we can’t audit ourselves if we don’t have a process to know the outcome.  Each of these stages involves re-working and redesigning the model to close gaps and improve the project fluidity. Each one of these 5 phases is a progressive plan that gets touched many times. As the project moves along it will expand as the momentum of the project picks itself up.

By passion, I am a researcher who loves the problem solving that goes with bringing it all together and then be a valuable resource for others. I also am an organizer. Often, before I start anything I want to understand “the why” behind things, not because I want to have all of the answers, but because I love the process of learning and how it helps me grow.

These 5 phases can be used as a model for many things in  life. The chart from the Project Management Book of Knowledge (affectionately referred to as the PMBOK), It can be easy to see how one might toggle between all 5 project phases at any one given time.

Please comment below: What is it that you do really well?