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Specialization in: coaching, training, mentoring, organizational assessments for all aspects of software development, and consulting on strategies & implementations of process improvement engagements. Expertise in all leading methodologies such as IBM Rational Unified Process (RUP), OpenUP, EnterpriseUP, and Agile approaches such as XP, Scrum, and DSDM. Over 15 years of experience in guiding companies toward improving the implementation of new process solutions and technology, providing services as an agile coach, process mentor, and trainer. Organizational change management leader, working hand and hand with organizations in developing a strategy for implementing an improved process and the resulting organizational culture changes. Focus is the company’s Return on investment (ROI) and helps manage how much effective change a given organization can adopt at any given point. Coached, mentored, and trained thousands of practitioners on all aspects of software development, conducted dozens of Conference presentations, authored many publications, sat on advisory boards, and chaired User Groups. Author of “Implementing the IBM Rational Unified Process and Solutions – A Guide to Improving Your Software Development Capability and Maturity, IBM Press 2007”. This is the book on how to implement & adopt RUP and make it agile, that was written at the request of the IBM Rational brand, and is based on more than a decade of real life practical experiences implementing, mentoring, and coaching on software development process engagements. Invited by the IBM Rational brand in 2003 to become a member of the Methods Client Advisory Group (CAG), providing input and direction to the development of RUP and other IBM methods. The group consists of 20 selected individuals representing expertise from around the world. Program Director of the largest Rational User Group in the country, Co-Discussion Facilitator of the Rational RUP Discussion forum for IBM’s developerWorks, and a recurring member (1 of 4) of the Process and Portfolio Management Panel of Experts IBM Rational Software Development Conferences for consecutive years. Frequent speaker at industry conferences on topics related to software development best practices, effective coaching & mentoring, and organizational change management. Joshua has posted 7 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Leaders Need Vision

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Leaders of process improvement initiatives need vision (note not the vision artifact from the unified process). 

A lot of the clients that I engage with are often in need of help to turn around an initiative that has not yielded the expected return on investment.  Ok, that is a soft way of saying that usually once things have gone awry for a while, they need a turnaround team to fix the current state and bring focus and a strategy that will yield results.

Results derived from process initiatives in software development don’t provide returns overnight for larger organizations.  These types of initiatives, with populations of software development professionals that will be impacted range from 1,000 to many thousands take time, and can span from 12 – 60 months.  Just like any other initiative that has such a long timeline, the leader must have a vision that they are driving to.  Ok, let me state that again, the leader MUST have a vision, and be committed to making and supporting decisions that will bring that vision to fruition within an achievable timeline.

One of the sports that I enjoy following is Formula 1 racing.  F1 is at the top of the food chain in motorsports, they have the biggest budgets (some in excess of $600 million a year and over 1,000 team members) just to race 2 cars in a single season.  Just like any other sport, there are the teams that are the front runners with a real chance to be the season’s champions and there are those that are the back markers, the teams in the last places on the results board.  One team, that as long as I have been a fan of F1 has always been at the low end of the results, consistently coming in last and second to last place.  The team was purchased, and the new team leader in an interview discussed the vision he had for the team which included hiring very well respected people in the industry, incremental improvements, and instilling the team with a new philosophy.  The timeline to reach this vision was a few years, and every year, up through this one, they did indeed improve.  This year they were real contenders for the championship title, and lost by a very slim margin.  This was a team that just a few years ago would have had a good race if one of their 2 cars came in 3rd from last.  Now they regularly win races and are one of the most competitive teams in the series.  All it took was vision.

I recently worked with a client that had a lot of the ingredients for real success, the success that can be discussed based on measurable results that are meaningful to the organization.  However, where this was an initiative with a lot of promise and on an upward trend to finally see returns on the significant investments they had and would still need to make, the leader of this initiative, who recently took over lacked any vision.  There has been a very visible degradation to the process implementation team, the project teams that are adopting as well as those who have already adopted.  Absent from the list of roles who have taken notice is executive management.  There is no doubt they will be taking notice in the very near term, but to date there has been very good “filtering” upward and the ride on the wave of earlier momentum is still paying dividends, albeit that is coming to an end.

The cost of this degradation will be material, in my experience as well as intimate knowledge of the environment; it will take hard work and financial commitment to get the work back on course.  Lack of vision is very costly indeed.

Joshua Barnes
Published at DZone with permission of its author, Joshua Barnes. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)