Understand Your Value Stream

Transformation at the mid-scale begins with understanding the value stream, the work people are doing. For our purposes, mid-scale means 40-1000 people working in technology.

We illustrate the work people do in a flow diagram because the intent is to go from selection to realization quickly. Note that these are shown linearly but in fact they are done interactively and with continuous feedback. This example also does not include what heavily regulated companies (such as health equipment makers and insurance companies) or companies with hardware and software components. FLEX does apply to them; we just need to attend to these additional factors.

Figure 1: A picture of mid-scale

Be clear that we are not suggesting that there should be a flow from left to right. There is both heavy interaction and feedback required. We have not shown this in order to keep the diagram easier to understand.

That fact that the above is a common flow of software may not be surprising. Perhaps what is, however, is that 80% of organizations attempting Agile methods have pretty much the same problems. It is important to realize that most companies are organized the same way. Systems-thinking tells us that the ecosystem of a company will dictate many of the challenges it experiences. Understanding these challenges is an important start in seeing how they can be properly addressed.

Understanding what your organization is doing

Value stream mapping is the best way to learn what is being done in your organization. We have seen many people in the same organization have different understandings of what is going on. A value stream map enables everyone to get on the same page. This is virtually always the first step of any engagement we undertake.