Just a few hours left for early registration rates at The CMMI Conference: SEPG North America 2014


…and I also have a discount code for Clients, Friends and Family, if you’d like!

Look forward to seeing you there.


Joint AFCEA / Cyber Huntsville Luncheon, 19 March 2014: “All Things Cyber”

Excellent organizations with an outstanding speaker, LTG Peter Cuviello, USA (Ret):


CMMI Institute Announces Banner Year

GlenTalon Consulting, Inc. is a proud partner of the CMMI Institute.  We have been using CMMI to help elevate performance for over 12 years and in 2013, our appraisals contributed to the record-breaking year. We look forward to working with our clients in 2014 to pursue and support ongoing performance improvement.


Welcome the AUSA Winter Symposium to Huntsville




Fact vs. Fiction – Perceptions of Small Business Challenges: ISO 9000 & CMMI

Dr Jay and I will discuss the challenges small businesses face when pursuing ISO 9000 or CMMI at the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama on March 4th. Local business owners will share their experiences, too.

Please join us!


Call for Participation opens for The CMMI Conference: SEPG North America 2014, 6-7 May 2014, Washington, DC area

Does your business or organization boast best-in-class operational performance?

If so, share your success with the world!

If not, come find out how you can!


Of Culture and Stories…

Surprisingly, no one on my noon conference call yesterday said “War Eagle” or “Roll Tide” or made any reference to THE EVENT OF THE CENTURY that occurred Saturday afternoon when #4-ranked Auburn University upset the #1 University of Alabama in the Iron Bowl by scoring on a 100-yard return of a missed field goal attempt with no time remaining in regulation…

…or not, given that everyone else was in Washington DC, Pittsburgh, London, etc., and could probably care less about SEC football – shocking though that may seem to some!

Rest assured that in Alabama yesterday, water cooler, cubicle, and hallway conversations reliving each and every moment of the game consumed many, many hours…oh, the stories to be told! The heroes and villains, good coaching decisions and bad, the great plays and the oh-so-close…all discussed, dissected, and made part of our heritage and culture here in the South.

Which begs the question: If people in your company or organization aren’t talking about SEC football, what are they talking about? What cubicle conversations are taking place right now that define or reinforce your corporate culture? What stories are being told that help people understand where it’s important for them to spend their time?

Want to change the culture? Change the story.

A friend told me about a company struggling to reduce customer-identified product defects through a process improvement initiative. A senior executive mandated that a chart be added to the quarterly program review slide deck to review process improvement activities on each project…1 slide, out of dozens discussing technical and programmatic status and issues. In the first review cycle, the program managers never even reached that slide (placed at the end of the deck) before running out of time. In the next review cycle the executive stopped the first program manager almost immediately and asked him to go the last slide in the deck…the process improvement slide! After they spent a few minutes discussing improvement efforts on that project, the executive thanked the presenter, turned the meeting over to her deputy, and left. What a way to send a message! She changed the story about what was important to the company and where people should spend their time.

Time is valuable; probably our most precious commodity. My Franklin Planner always has the Benjamin Franklin quote on the front: “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”

How are you spending your time? What stories are you telling to promote the culture you want to nurture in your organization?

Oh, and lest I forget: War Eagle!

Count to 2

My 2 year old understands more about leading organizational change than many corporate executives. He recently started counting out loud, and he’s good. Typically he counts like this:

“One, two, five, nine,” or “One, two, six, eight, five.”

See how hard things get after two?

So why do so many companies have umpteen improvement initiatives spread across multiple divisions with teams that wind up changing what other teams changed before the first change even got fielded? Whew! Talk about confusing!

If you don’t believe my 2 year old, how about Grenny, Patterson, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler?

The authors of Influencer suggest that just a few initiatives, with overwhelming attention and support brought to bear across all levels of the organization, have a much greater chance of success. Take a look at the framework* they provide for change by addressing both ability and motivation at the individual, peer, and institutional levels.

Within the organization change management community, the best tools I’ve found that support this type of approach are the Capability Maturity Models from the CMMI Institute at Carnegie Mellon University**. Their focus on practices that support institutionalization of processes across an organization, in addition to the entire People CMM, map very well to many of the ideas presented in Influencer.

As we approach the holiday season and prepare for the new year, do yourselves and your organizations a favor: Look at all the change and improvement initiatives currently on the table…and count no higher than two.


*I have no affiliation with any of these authors or their materials; I’m just a fan.
**I am currently a CMMI Institute-certified lead appraiser and instructor for the CMMIs for Acquisition, Development, and Services.


Returning from a recent business trip, like most folks, when my plane landed and rolled off the active runway I dug into my pocket and fired up the cell phone. The text message awaiting me from my wife was interesting: “Careful coming in. Watch for burfs” followed immediately by “birds.” Ah, the joys of autocorrect.

Puzzled, I called to find out what was going on. Turns out that a couple of young birds had flown the nest while I was gone…only one of them didn’t get very far. It was in the back yard, bouncing around and trying to learn what to do. Its parents were staying close by, observing and trying to ward off predators. We have quite a few stray cats in the neighborhood; at least one was close by, but so was Junebug, our youngest pit bull.

Junebug fascinates me. She wakes up every morning with one mission in life: she has a lot of love to give and a short time to give it! (Except to cats.) She’d love to be friends with the chipmunk that lives under our air conditioner (so says the wife), but this morning she was standing guard over a little bird on the ground, still learning to fly.

Who’s learning to fly in your organization, and who watches out for them? In the US military, all the officer rank insignia are silver except for second lieutenant and major, which are gold. As a 2LT you’re new to the officer corp, and as a Major you’re new to management: I was told long ago that there’s nothing you can do in those two grades that someone else can’t fix, so go have fun and explore! Learn what your limits are, then push…hard.

Growth requires challenge; challenge risks failure.

Who’s growing in your organization? Who’s watching out for them? How are they treated when they fail?

Driving Performance

A friend asked on the company facebook page how to interpret my “Leading Change. Driving Performance.” tag line…did that mean I was now in the business of changing oil in sports cars?

No, but without additional context it’s certainly a valid question. And speaking of driving performance, I observed a gentleman driving to my church yesterday morning. Maybe he was running a few minutes late; perhaps he had been delayed en route. In either case he was traveling rather quickly, very focused on getting to church on time.

Don’t get me wrong: focus is good. Focus enables us to bring the necessary attention to make progress and solve problems. Likewise I admire the gentleman’s desire to be punctual and meet his commitment to be at church on time. Sometimes, though, focus can blind us to other considerations.

As a resident of that neighborhood, a parent and pet owner, I ask myself if he’s considered how he would feel if he hit someone’s pet or child that ran into the street in front of him?

The focus on getting to his destination means it will take him longer to recognize and deal with the unexpected. The higher speed means it will take more distance to stop. Both of these things have consequences. Sometimes we focus so much on a goal that we ignore the risks, assuming, “That won’t happen to me!”

Over the years I’ve worked with several organizations for whom schedule was the overriding concern. Meeting the delivery date trumped all other considerations.

Some organizations dealt with that constructively: utilizing scrum, for example–a highly effective approach to work management that focuses on regular, frequent delivery of functioning product while maintaining excellent, near-real-time visibility into progress, risks and issues, enabling an empowered team to address them.

Some organizations acted like the driver speeding through my neighborhood: blinders on, pushing full speed towards the delivery date, repeating (in staff meetings, management reviews, etc.) all the ways in which those problems won’t happen to us, without explaining why (hope is not an effective risk mitigation strategy, but that’s for another post); expending significant energy explaining away increases in staff turnover or customer reported defects.

How does your organization perform? Do you deal effectively with a changing reality, or do you have your blinders on?

How do you think your leadership would answer that question?