Now that we’ve discussed exactly what is socializing (here), let’s take a look at a practical example. We’ve found that culturally sensitive communications about initiatives — especially using less-formal, even “tribal” channels – is one of the most effective ways to validate whether metrics resonate with key stakeholders. Let’s look at a practical example mapped against key types of socialization:
Primary socialization – Primary socialization is the process whereby people learn the attitudes, values, and actions appropriate to individuals as members of a particular culture.
Our first attempts to promote the Project Management Maturity Assessment measure were fervently debated and resisted. While most believed in its value, most were unconvinced about how practical it was to communicate to management. At least consulting management, that is.
Secondary socialization — Secondary socialization refers to process of learning what is appropriate behavior as a member of a smaller group within the larger society.
However, even tangential mentions of a particular maturity assessment result provoked interest among key executive stakeholders. That interest was reinforced once the we explained that the approach relies on the Capability Maturity Model: a software-oriented approach. This insight reinforced the reality that consulting is really a “smaller group within the larger [software] society.”
Developmental socialization – Developmental socialization is the process of learning behavior in a social institution or developing your social skills.
We were surprised by the initial resistance. We expected that leaders in a software company would warm to a CMMi-based model. However, much of consulting middle management came from Big Four or other large services firms. Process maturity isn’t exactly top-of-mind in that industry. Pitching CMMi didn’t resonate at this level of management.
Anticipatory socialization – Anticipatory socialization refers to the processes of socialization in which a person “rehearses” for future positions, occupations, and social relationships.
However, we were prescient enough to include multiple layers of management in our stakeholder management strategy. Specifically, we ran our maturity assessement pitch by our sponsor — a member of the consulting executive team who also had a deep software background. His positive reaction to our pitch and subsequent feedback helped us refine our messaging.
Resocialization – Resocialization refers to the process of discarding former behavior patterns and accepting new ones as part of a transition in one’s life.
And of course, refining our messaging was how we were able to convince consulting middle management to accept and embrace the maturity assessment measure. Focusing on the positive reaction of the software side to maturity assessments put the approach in a different light. While the ex-Big Four leaders may not “get” CMMi, they certainly understood the political advantages of using a measure that had the respect of the powers-that-be.