Quick and Dirty Maturity Modeling

Climb. Which way is up?

Would you like to be better? To be great with your Identity of Things? Wider Team talked with experts and friends about this for the last year. We grouped kinds of competencies and capabilities. And we’ve even seen some “walk before you run” dependencies. So, maturity models, right?  

Specifics about our model are another post. But here are a few notes about maturity models in general.  

What are maturity models for?  

Sequencing where to invest your learning, time, and money.  

I’m taking my lead from one of the pioneers of maturity modeling, Martin Fowler. A few quotes

A maturity model is a tool that helps people assess the current effectiveness of a person or group and supports figuring out what capabilities they need to acquire next in order to improve their performance. 

Later in that post…  

Maturity models are structured as a series of levels of effectiveness. It's assumed that anyone in the field will pass through the levels in sequence as they become more capable. 

So that’s pretty clear. Get better. First things first. 

The vital point here is that the true outcome of a maturity model assessment isn't what level you are but the list of things you need to work on to improve. Your current level is merely a piece of intermediate work in order to determine that list of skills to acquire next. 

How does Wider think about maturity models? 

The evolution from starting a new thing to becoming a master of the universe seems to run something like this:  

  1. Initiate. Make something, just get started with it. First functionality, minimum viable product, proof of concept (POC), pilot, whatever.  
  1. Build Confidence. Assure it works when you need it, with reliability & the basics covered.  
  1. Seek Efficiency. Squeeze out variability, time, and costs.   
  1. Add Flexibility. Seek interop, adaptability, agility, resilience.   
  1. Wield Strategically. Indirect value becomes more valuable as you use these technologies in ways that matter to the organization’s and ecosystem’s gameplay.  

It’s nearly impossible to get higher on this model without being good at the levels that come before it.  

Wider’s maturity models focus on IDoT competencies. 

You have plenty of skills and responsibilities already. But Identity of Things has particular challenges to overcome and prizes to capture.  

In a dream world, your Identity of Things efforts are nearly frictionless. Devices work seamlessly, onboard themselves, find each other to cooperate, update themselves, and find their ways through a lifecycle that is sheer bliss.

And those identity conversations are safely delivering trust, high assurance device identity, authorization, privacy, human identity proofing, and easily audited data provenance.  

And, in this dream, your Identity of Things efforts blend smoothly with those of all your suppliers, partners, friends, and patients.

You are part of an ecosystem that seems to be ahead of the technology curve, exploiting opportunities to partner and discover the richness of new economic models.

Together, you influence the shape of regulation, you innovate new protocols and polish off edge cases, you lower the costs of dovetailing emerging technologies and futureproof today’s investments.   

But first, you have to know where the power outlets are, right? Before you plug in a device?  

The competencies and capabilities that get you there have dependencies. Maturity models outline those dependencies.  

Disclaimers? Caveats?  

Yeah. Uhm.  

  • All models are broken but some are useful? We don’t know you (though we’d like to) so this model doesn’t reflect your reality. To make it work, change the model to fit how things really work with competencies you really need.  
  • Only useful for now. These are rough, very broad guides to a rapidly changing dream. This what IDoT dreams looks like in 2021. Next year, who knows? You’ll change, the world changes. Ten years’ from now, all bets are off.  
  • Only useful “here.” In healthcare. In high-income industrialized economies. On Earth’s surface. Elsewhere, your efficiency will vary.  

The Owner’s Guide?  

  1. Get your friends together. Folks who care, who know something about IoT, IAM, decentralized identity, and your industry or sector.  
  1. Tune your ambitions. Reality-check the model and adjust it so the competencies are really needed and sequenced.  
  1. Assess yourself. Score yourself in each skill, starting from the basics and working your way up. Which competencies are red (ouch!), yellow (problematic), or green (no worries)? Which competencies can’t you gauge? Those are gray. 
  1. Prioritize. Too little green on the first rung of the ladder? You know where to start.  
  1. Build your capabilities.  
  1. Retune the model.  


Shoot for:  

  • Focus. Don’t boil your ocean. Pick something to work on and do that.  
  • Risk Avoidance. Walk before you run.  
  • Agreement. You’re in this together, kinda. Maybe. This model works best when there’s rough consensus on the goals.  

Watch out for:  

  • Formality. This is a quick and dirty tool for fast decisions. Run from “certifications” and “credentials.”   
  • Shame.  
  • Drift. People forget why you were doing something. Use your model to check that you still want old goals and that this is the right path.

Feedback, please.  

Drop a line to hello@wider.team with critique or suggestions. Comments are open.  

P.S. We walked through this and a few other ideas at Identiverse 2021. IoMT At Risk. A Wider Team Critique of Digital Identity Threats to the Internet of Medical Things. Read all the posts from our Identiverse talk.


One response to “Quick and Dirty Maturity Modeling”

  1. Wider’s High Assurance Digital Identity Maturity Model – Wider.Team Avatar

    […] posted last week on how maturity models work, and don’t […]

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