An immature take on maturity models


If something has been around for more than a day- an analyst firm will claim there is a maturity model they built around it. Then they will score everyone on it. This happens to everything from enterprise software, BI etc to something as new as social media. If you don’t trust me – stop right here, google it, and come back and read on after you have had the pleasure/dismay of knowing there is in fact multiple social media maturity models to pick from.

I think we need to have a more mature view of such maturity models. Here is why, in no particular order.

1. If hasn’t been around long enough – don’t build a maturity model around it.

Good example is the one on social media. The thing is so new – who can say with conviction that the future will look like X or Y?

2. If it cannot be measured in hard metrics, don’t bother building a maturity model till it gets there

One example  that comes to mind is Social CRM. I have seen on twitter, some very famous analysts saying ROI is the wrong question to ask. Not cool – I am yet to see any one spend serious money without clearly seeing an ROI. Companies will experiment in some new way that they hear is cool, but for a hard investment – ROI or similar hard metric is needed. Plus you can’t improve something you can’t measure

3. Maturity model assumes a certain linear progression for an organization. But why?

Say we are talking about BI. And say in some model – at the highest level of maturity, you can do complete service, and everything is based on high speed analytics and all information is available on your mobile device. Let us also say the current level of maturity is “hey Joe, any idea what we sold in Japan last quarter?”. To get from “hey Joe” to clicking a button on mobile screen, usually u have to cover  sequence of maturity levels.

Does it mean business should wait a few years while IT is jumping through hoops, and burning investments for few years before they get all the benefits?  If you look at most maturity models – that is the impression you get. But that need not be the case – nothing prevents you usually from getting a little bit of everything from the beginning and building on footprint every step of the way. The point is – if you try to explain the growth trajectory of a company in 2011 with a concept developed few decades ago, you will look foolish.

4. Mature compared to who?

If you ask a group of people if they are below average or above average individually, how many would say “below average”? This applies to organizations too.  An absolute level of maturity is an absurd concept, since what you are trying to measure typically is evolving all the time.  Getting  a printed report from a computer was probably at highest level of BI maturity some time ago, but not today.

If I could keep my eyes open for another 10 minutes, I can probably make it to a 5th bullet. But allow me to stop here – will pick this up another time.

 

 

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