Improvement Focus operates within the context of six core values: Integrity, Professionalism, Responsibility, Respect, Passion and Sustainability. In random order:
To us, integrity means being honest when consulting and appraising software development organisations. We operate in the best interests of our customers; even if this could create a risk that we will not be given subsequent contracts. The interests of our customers do not always necessarily correspond to their demands and requirements. It could be that a customer wishes to use CMMI to achieve certain business improvements, where we see other approaches as more useful. If we have different insights, we will not hesitate to share these with our customers.
Integrity means to us that if we work for one customer, we do not work for other customers at the same time. Work for different customers will be separated with respect to time. An example taken from practice would be that we will not have extensive telephone contact with one customer while working for another customer.
We only charge worked hours to customers when we have actually worked these hours. This also means that we can always show our added value.
Integrity also means that we make active use of our own advice. We are a role model and work according to such principles as practice what you preach, and walk the talk.
Our recommendations are always based on arguments and not on sentiments. Although “gut feeling” can give rise to further investigation, we will always be able to substantiate our advice with observations and facts.
Professionalism means to us also that we have thorough expertise in the areas in which we provide consultation. We indicate the limits of our knowledge and experience. We see knowledge and experience as something that can systematically be expanded. We stay informed of developments in our field, to be always able to give adequate advice.
We make commitments with the conviction that we will be able to live up to our promises. If we know in advance that we can not do so, we won’t make promises, and will indicate why. This also means that if we make commitments, we will demonstrably do our utmost to meet them. If there are unforeseen circumstances hindering us, we will inform our clients as soon as we possibly can. In practice, this means being on time for meetings; not under-estimating to win contracts, etc.
We take responsibility for what we do, and for what we did not do but could have done. This responsibility means working in spirit and not in letter, with respect to reference models. We can always make a case for our choices and decisions, and link these to the goals and interests of our customers.
We take responsibility for what we did not do but could have done. We evaluate our activities and document the lessons learned. These lessons are translated into our own improvement activities, which also implements the practice what you preach principle we uphold.
We periodically measure customer satisfaction with respect to our services. If necessary, this will lead to modifying our approach, or if customer requirements lead to an infringement of our values, to a termination of our contract.
We respect differences in culture, background and religion. This applies to both customers and employees of Improvement Focus. Understanding differences is the basis for growth and development. We respect differences in opinion and try to work towards solutions that are in the best interests of the customer.
We listen carefully to our customers to understand their true needs. We listen to the question behind the question. We take stock of the demands and requirements of our customers before we design our service approach. We can be characterised as “nice people” but are not afraid of discussions and confrontations, as long as these are in the best interest of the customer. Our approach depends on the goals and organisational culture of our customer.
We believe that you can only excel in your work if you are passionate about it, if you truly believe in what you do. Passion means pushing the limits from “in letter” to “in spirit”. A programme of culture change can only emerge when participants believe in it. In change programmes we go in search of what really resonates with people. We look for possibilities seen by those working on “the floor”, and help them relate these to business goals.
To us, sustainability is closely related to balance. Achieving the right balance between work and home life prevents employees from exhausting their potential and helps to ensure their good health.
Sustainability also applies to our relationships with our customers. We always want to be able to “look our customers in the eye”, and continue to communicate, also amidst the turbulence that is typically part of culture change programmes.
Sustainability is also relevant to our relationship with our competitors. The SPI community is small, and reputation is a key factor. Therefore we attach value to maintaining good relationships with our competitors.
Sustainability applies to our relationship to the environment. We travel by public transportation whenever and wherever possible.
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