“Growth is not linear and it doesn’t happen in discrete phases marked by convenient external characteristics” — which is why maturity models are wrong — according to Christiaan Verwijs, specifically looking at agile models.
“Of course, maturity models are meant to simplify the complexities of reality. But what is gained by squeezing such a messy, non-linear thing as the professional growth of individuals, teams, and organisations into an easily digestible model that allows us to feel like we’re making decisions based on something tangible? Oh, wait ….
Maturity models are the best friend of consultants. They are easy to understand and may seem very profound at first. It’s an easy way to make a good impression. This makes them excellent snack food for consultants, and for the organisations that are looking for easy answers to their complex problems.” —CV
Are maturity models useful? Is there a more useful model we could use?
“Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.” —George Box
One flaw in maturity models is they provide a specific point at which we are assumed to be mature, and imply we have nothing else to learn or improve. We can still have indicators of experience or capability to show where we are in our competencies, without a maturity model. For instance, my model of 7 facets for organizational knowledge flow can be used to show where we should focus our professional development for the next period of time. This can be established for each team or group.
We could use the same model to identify which group is doing some facet very well, and then get them to teach or support other groups. Sometimes the best teachers are those who are just slightly ahead of us. For example, Google employs a Googler-to-Googler program so employees can teach each other. This program is based on a model that assumes that learning is continuous and never ends. These employees are already mature enough to teach each other. They just need time and support to do so.
One thing about models is that we will not know if they are useful unless we try them out. As they say — your mileage may vary.