Updated: Jul 22
Increasingly, we have observed that regulatory and standards bodies are expecting companies to use capability maturity models to improve performance and advance outcomes related to targets such as: zero incidents, zero fatalities, zero harm, zero emissions, zero violations and so on. While capability maturity models are not new they have seldom been used to improve compliance. This is beginning to change.
One of the places where capability maturity models has been used successfully is in software development specifically in aerospace and the defense applications. The CMMI (Capabilities Maturity Model Integration) Institute publishes and develops maturity models continuing research previously conducted by Carnegie Mellon University.
The CMMI Institute claims their models can be used to guide process improvement across projects, division or an entire organization. The latest version of the CMMI model is V2 with specific versions for product and service development, service establishment and management, and product and service acquisition.
In response to regulatory changes towards outcome and performance-based obligations we have adapted the CMMI model to better support the capabilities needed to advance outcomes over time.
In our model, Level 3 defines the achievement of "SYSTEM" status when:
Management is pro-active
A systems perspective is taken that considers interactions and dependencies as well as components and elements
Uncertainty is evaluated and addressed using managed risk controls
Continuous improvement practices exist at the process and system level
These minimum operability requirements must be met before any real progress in outcomes can be made.
Fundamentally, better outcomes are obtained when processes behave more like a purposeful-system rather than as individual parts. This comes directly from systems theory which teaches that outcomes are the emergent properties of the product of a system's interactions rather than the sum of its parts. As management incorporates double and triple-loop learning as part of a system they are able to optimize for outcomes which drives performance improvement. System adaptation (a program level function) occurs in response to feed-forward communications from the environment in which a system exists.