I've had a nagging thought lately... are Lean and CMM (& its derivations), antitheses?
An absurd thought on the surface perhaps, especially since they share common roots in quality management philosophy, and a simple Google search on Lean + CMMI yields a million hits (mostly of the "Lean Six Sigma + CMMI" variant, an important distinction).
But Lean has a laser focus on value, while capability maturity is more about evolving an organizational platform that in theory will then more effectively (consistently) produce value. It's a less direct value proposition.
I'm not talking only of the Software CMM, nor even CMMI's various flavors. COBIT also has maturity scales. And there's a broader implication even for ITIL: the question always seems to be, "are you doing *all* of the framework?"
ITIL and COBIT are more tolerant of ala carte treatment, but the original "staged" representation of CMM asserted a certain correct order of maturation.
(Digression: The Wikipedia article on CMM(I) claims there was an empirical basis for this order; I need to research CMM's roots further. Some may say that CMM is not even something to strive for; that its maturity stages are evidence of maturity, but deliberately seeking to enhance one's performance of them represents a misunderstanding of CMM. This is almost analogous to the faith vs. works argument in Christian theology - good works are a sign of grace, but can one use them to earn salvation? Any theologians out there who've also looked @ CMM?)
The staged representation was loosened with the "continuous" representation of CMMI, but I think the influence still lingers. And for any framework, the temptation to completism is apparent: you're not really doing "it" unless you are doing all of it.You're not "mature" to a certain level unless you have demonstrated all the antecedents, any more than you can be proficient in calculus without a foundation in algebra and trigonometry. And if you haven't done statistics and discrete math as well, your understanding is incomplete.
But delivering value, especially in a dynamic and competitive environment, is not the same as building an edifice of formal knowledge. The dependencies flicker in and out of sight and today's firm foundation turns into tomorrow's sand.The obstacles to value often cannot be forecast... they can only be reacted to and mitigated in the moment. Professional competence and disciplined practice may be necessary, but they are not sufficient for value delivery. And at a certain point... is the drive to "maturity" across a set of "capabilities," simply equal to the fallacy that aggregating local optima will lead to a global optimum?
I've had enough brushes with dialectics that my use of the word antithesis is deliberate. An antithesis does not obliterate the thesis; the two struggle together until a richer synthesis emerges. For a good example of an emerging synthesis, see CMMI or Agile: Why Not Embrace Both! - an excellent and related read.