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The Software Process and Measurement Cast features four columns.  We begin with our essay on recognizing risk and risk tolerance.  Any discussion of risk begins with acknowledging that risk exists and then recognizing specific risks.  Once we know risks exist we need to determine which risks we care about. Risk tolerance affects how everyone in an organization behaves.

Kim Pries the Software Sensei discussers change models, focusing on the Kotter model of change.  Kim discusses how change models can be used for hardware, software, processes and procedures.  

Gene Hughson brings his wonderful Form Follows Function Blog the podcast.  In this installment, Gene and I discuss All Aboard the Innovation Band Wagon. We talked a lot about how to define innovation AND why innovation and change is powerful.

Jon Quigley anchors the cast with the third installment in a three-part arc on requirements in his  “The Alpha-Omega of Product Development” column. This week Jon discusses managing requirements.

Re-Read Saturday News

We continue the read/re-read of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (published by Jossey-Bass).  We seem to be moving from cliffhanger to cliffhanger over the past few weeks, and we shall do so again today. Lencioni uses crises to illustrate common problems that make teams into dysfunctional collections of individuals. This week we tackle the the sections from Entering the Danger to Rebound.

Visit the Software Process and Measurement Cast blog to participate in this and previous re-reads.


The Software Process and Measurement Cast 416 will feature our interview with Kirk Botula.  Kirk is the CEO of the CMMI Institute.  Kirk and I talked about organizational capability and why capability is crucial for organizational health and agility!

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here. Available in English and Chinese.

Detroit Tigers

I like baseball.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have spent the afternoon listening to a game and hearing the announcers expound on batting averages and on-base percentages as I puttered around the house. As someone with a background in quantitative analysis, I understand that the chances of a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning by a player that has not hit a home run in the major league are small.  However, in my mind’s eye, I can see the event happening and even believe that because I am listening that it will occur. This example is one form of magical thinking.  Magical thinking occurs when we attribute a causal or synchronistic relationship between actions or events that can’t be justified by reason and observation.  The current business environment means that innovation and magical thinking are often intertwined. Innovation without the ground game of implementation and continuous improvement is magical thinking. (more…)

Innovations are limited!

Innovations are limited!

Innovation is a word that has seen heavy use for a long time.  In the many uses of the word innovation, the term has been ascribed an equally wide range of meanings.  At one end of the spectrum are definitions that suggest that anything that deviates from the norm can be construed as an innovation.  One adage holds, “if it’s new to me, it is new.”  However, definitions of this sort conflate the terms “change” and “innovation”.  At the other end of the spectrum, some definitions provide a clear separation between evolutionary and discontinuous change. In narrower definitions, innovation is a subset of change.  In software development, business or even–more broadly–life, change is inevitable and continuous while innovation is not inevitable and far more abrupt. In practical terms, change and innovation often differ in a number of critical attributes. (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement our essay on Mind Mapping. I view Mind Mapping as a great technique to stimulate creative thinking and organize ideas. Mind Mapping is one of my favorite tools.  Note:  this essay has a lot of visual examples, while there they are explained in the reading of the essay, I have also included them in a separate document for reference. 

If you want to reference the figures/examples in the essay download this PDF.  Mind Mapping Figures

We also feature Steve Tendon’s column discussing the TameFlow methodology and Chapter 4 of his great book, Hyper-Productive Knowledge Work Performance.  Steve and I discussed the impact of management’s profound understanding of knowledge work and that understandings impact on the delivery of value.

Anchoring the cast will be Gene Hughson, returning with an entry from his Form Follows Function blog.  This week Gene discusses the ideas in his entry, “Who Needs Architects?”

Call to Action!

For the remainder of August and September let’s try something a little different.  Forget about iTunes reviews and tell a friend or a coworker about the Software Process and Measurement Cast. Let’s use word of mouth will help grow the audience for the podcast.  After all the SPaMCAST provides you with value, why keep it yourself?!

Re-Read Saturday News

Remember that the Re-Read Saturday of The Mythical Man-Month is in full swing.  This week we tackle the essay titled “Calling The Shot”!  Check out the new installment at Software Process and Measurement Blog.

Upcoming Events

Software Quality and Test Management
September 13 – 18, 2015
San Diego, California

I will be speaking on the impact of cognitive biases on teams.  Let me know if you are attending! If you are still deciding on attending let me know because I have a discount code.

Agile Development Conference East
November 8-13, 2015
Orlando, Florida

I will be speaking on November 12th on the topic of Agile Risk. Let me know if you are going and we will have a SPaMCAST Meetup.


The next Software Process and Measurement feature our interview with Julia Wester.  Julia is an Improvement Coach at LeanKit and writes the Every Kanban Blog.  Julia and I had wide ranging conversation that included both process improvement and the role of management in Agile. Julia’s opinion is that management can play a constructive role in helping Agile teams deliver the most value.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, neither for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here. Available in English and Chinese.

Rarely do I come to the Software Process and Measurement readers (blog) and listeners (podcast) with a call to action . . . now is one of those times.

Phil McKinney’s podcast on innovation is one the reasons I started the Software Process and Measurement Cast.  Phil has written a phenomenal book, Beyond The Obvious.  Phil is doing something extraordinary, Phil is donating all of his royalties for purchases made until the end of the year to charity.  Got to his site and buy the book  . . .

Use the SPaMCAST Associate link to buy the book

or go to Phil’s site:

His Announcement:

The Pay It Forward Project

I began my tech career in a factory in Evansville, IN as the sole “geek” living in a condemned (yes – it actually was condemned) apartment building with my wife who was finishing her nursing degree. How things have changed from that humble beginning.


When I look back on my career and where it has brought us, there is no way we can pay back the time and support I received from my mentors.  Therefore, we have committed ourselves to find ways to take what we’ve been blessed with and to pay it forward.

So my wife and I will donate 100% of the royalties from my book, Beyond The Obvious, that is purchased before the end of the year to charity.

100% of All Author Royalties To Charity

So what do you need to do? Purchase the book (hardcover, digital or audio version) before the end of the year.  That’s it!  Whatever author royalties I receive will go to charity. If you are interested in purchasing bulk copies of the book to give away (e.g. to your employees, customers, friends, etc) Amazon and Barnes & Noble are able to accommodate.

Stay updated on the project ….

4-5 2013 Society National Bank

Once upon a time I worked for Society National Bank. Following a merger in 1993, it became Key Bank. Other than a historical marker, Society is no more and while Key Bank might be a bigger, better bank another take over might not quite as good for both parities.  In this case, longevity did not provide immunization against a wave of bank mergers.  Many things might have provided that immunization:


Whether a company or programmer you can’t assume that longevity is your ticket to a career.  The same attributes that could have lead Society into the 21st century are the same attributes that will lead you to the future.



Stuff happens even in the safest, most controlled environments  When we design processes we can try to define out all potential problems or balance the degree of safety required and our ability to recognize and react when something happens.

Excluding all inputs that might cause a problem would also exclude impressions, interactions and potential serendipity that can foster innovation. This is a path towards mediocrity. Agile frameworks stress the need for transparency (transparency is part of empirical models) because transparency is needed for effective collaboration and feedback.  Transparency will mean external ideas could encroach on your projects. Trying to ban outside ideas will do more harm than good; just make sure you are communicating well enough to raise an alarm when needed.