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In November of this year, 2014, I gave a talk on Essence at Binghamton University to a group of Computer Science students.  You can catch the highlights of Part I of the talk on YouTube.  This is a great video to watch if you want to learn what is new and different about Essence, the new software engineering Object Management Group (OMG) standard intended specifically for software practitioners.  If you don’t have time to watch the complete Part I– which is about 44 minutes– you can find a cross-reference at the end of the video to where in the video you can find the following 23 key topics:

  1. What is Essence?
  2. The Difference Between Scrum and Essence.
  3. What Does Essence Contain?
  4. Why Did We Create the Strange Alpha Word?
  5. What is Different About Essence?
  6. The Essence CARD Deck.
  7. An Example Demonstrating How Essence is NOT Waterfall.
  8. A Question About Essence Versus Scrum.
  9. How Essence Can Power Whatever Approach Your Team is Already Using.
  10. About the Problem We Are Trying To Solve With Essence.
  11. How Does a Team Use the Essence Model?
  12. How Essence Checklists Are Different.
  13. How Do Teams Apply the Essence Checklists?
  14. On the Importance of Knowing When You Are Done.
  15. A Question on How a Team Can Fall Back.
  16. On the Order You Address States, and Decisions on Checklists that May Not Apply.
  17. An Example of a Team Deciding if a Checklist is Applicable to them.
  18. On Activity Spaces.
  19. Competencies Within Essence.
  20. How to Figure Out if You Have a Leadership or a Management Competency Issue.
  21. What if a Team Can’t Meet a Checklist Item?
  22. Why Isn’t Risk an Alpha?
  23. Why is Hardware included in the Definition of the Software System Alpha?

As always, your comments and feedback are encouraged.

A new blog has just been posted about an interesting discussion recently taking place in an Essence User Guide meeting.

A new article has just been published that might be of interest to those following the work of SEMAT.

As always, comments are encouraged.

In August, 2014 (this year) I faced this challenge when speaking at the Latin American Software Engineering Symposium (LASES) in Barranquilla, Columbia. The night before the talk Dr. Carlos Zapata and I came up with an idea that not only worked, but also generated more questions than I ever imagined.

The title of my talk was: Essence: A Practitioner and Team Performance Perspective.

Take a look at this video to see how we pulled this off.  Below the link to the video find a sampling of the questions I received and how you can locate them quickly in the video.

Following is a sampling of the questions I received during the talk:

  1. Why are there only 7 alphas in the Essence kernel?
  2. How long will the SEMAT community work on Essence?
  3. Why don’t we see practices represented on the kernel?
  4. What is the vision for how companies will represent their practices using Essence?
  5. Will there be more disciplines added to Essence?
  6. How is the kernel changed, and what changes are coming?
  7. What criteria was used in selecting Essence checklists?
  8. What is your vision for the future of Essence?
  9. How would you sell Essence to companies?
  10. Where are we headed with practices on top of the Essence kernel?
  11. What is the definition of practice from the point of view of the Essence kernel?
  12. How will practices be captured in the Essence framework?

If you don’t have time to watch the entire video, jump to the end of the video where you will find, along with the 12 questions above, 30 more key questions/concrete examples listed and a reference to where you can find them quickly in the video (minutes and seconds into the video).

There has recently been a lot of discussion related to quantifying the value of using SEMAT’s Essence Framework.  I just posted a blog on this subject at:

I’d love to hear what you think…

I have just posted a blog about a different way to think about the SEMAT vision and the Essence Framework.   

 I would love to hear what you think.  


I have just posted my second blog of a planned series on topics in my new book.  This blog is titled: “Practice Slices and Patterns: A Better Way to Deploy Process Improvements”.   

Practice slices and patterns is a way to engage your practitioners in their own practice improvement which is a major goal of SEMAT and the Essence Framework.

You can also view a Youtube  video about practice slices and patterns at:

I am very interested in hearing feedback and stimulating discussion on the idea of practice slices and patterns.   

For those who may be interested, the new book I referred to in my blog on July 3 that includes discussions on the Essence framework is now available.  You can learn more about the book at (paperback book or kindle store) or at

The book’s title is: 15 Fundamentals for Higher Performance in Software Development

You can also get some background information on how the Essence part of the book evolved at  in my blog dated July 17 and titled: Turning a Weakness into a Major Strength In My New Book “15 Fundamentals…”  

With the recent news release of the OMG Board of Directors adoption of the new Essence standard, and with the recent call for action for worldwide SEMAT adoption more people are now asking where can they learn more about how Essence can help.

Speaking as one who has been involved since the initial kickoff meeting in Zurich in 2010, one of the great things I have observed about the SEMAT initiative is how so many people coming from different backgrounds and different perspectives have been able to work together sharing ideas and learning from each other.

I believe it is our differing backgrounds and perspectives that have helped to make the Essence standard a sound kernel that will aid in the development of a solid theory going forward.

I also believe that to keep the momentum going we need more people writing about real experiences using Essence, or, if they haven’t used Essence, writing about real experiences where they can demonstrate how this new standard can help to solve the real problems that software practitioners face every day on the job.

This is an area I have been pursuing myself working on a book along these lines over the past few years. Many of the SEMAT volunteers have helped me along the way as reviewers of this work.  The book is now complete and will be available soon.

If you are interested in learning more about the book, or would like to be notified when the book is published visit the following URL ( You can even download a free Sample PDF of the book now that includes Scott Ambler’s foreword.  I would love to hear your feedback.