The FLEX Consortium

The Cathedral and the Bazaar

In the Cathedral and the Bazaar – Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, Eric Raymond, co-founder of the open source initiative, discussed how open source was a more effective way to solve the software development communities challenges. Raymond likened the Cathedral to Microsoft – a monolithic organization controlling both the creation and marketing of software development tools and applications. Open source was the bazaar – a place where anyone meeting certain standards could work and create value. What open source has done for software development tools, I am proposing a similar bazaar can do for approaches to improve our software development methods.

The software development community is facing a crisis. There is more Fake Agile and ‘dark Scrum’ than effective Agile (see Steve Denning’s Forbes article – Understanding Fake Agile). Practitioners at conferences often admit to not having significant success.  While the Agile community professes a foundation of collaboration, openness and diversity, perhaps a dozen people control most of the Agile at scale approaches. This is the cathedral.

Creating a consortium for improving organizations’ ability to deliver value

While organizations have differences, the challenges they face and the solutions that can overcome them are similar. Differences to attend to include what type of business the organization is in, governance issues, culture and whether it involves hardware. Even when two different companies want similar end results, how they get there depends on many of these factors.

Although there are similarities between different approaches that work, no one-size fits-all. A “cathedral approach” will leave many people following something that will not work well for them.  Net Objectives has created the FLEX Consortium to make multiple, aligned approaches available to practitioners and consultants.

All consortiums must have a theme and the FLEX Consortium is no exception, in fact it has two themes – improving businesses and taking a scientific approach while being consistent with Flow, Lean and Agile.  The scientific approach is perhaps the most restrictive.  Neil Tyson stated (paraphrased) – “the difference between science and religion is religion can’t abide being wrong science seeks to be wrong.”

FLEX’s organization enables it to provide a foundation for a wide variety of service providers. We divide the FLEX Bazaar into three sections:

  1. FLEX consultants and trainers who teach and consult in FLEX itself.
  2. FLEX partners provide additional offerings that augment or substitute for FLEX practices
  3. Technical partners that provide technical agility

The FLEX Consortium

FLEX Fellows, Consultants and Trainers

FLEX Partners

FLEX Technical Partners

How FLEX Is the Foundation for Varied Services

The consortium is not merely a collection of consultants offering related services. It is a cohesive offering of related services.  RLEX achieves this by being organized around the value stream as shown in the following figure.


FIgure 1: FLEX is organized around the value stream

It is important, of course, to focus on what work is done at each step, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Activities at each step of the value stream.

In order to be able to expand FLEX by having optional practices, it is important to have these steps each work within the context of the previous one while creating the context for the next one. This is shown in figure 3.

Figure 3: Each step in the value stream creates the context for the next one.

This architecture enables the substitution of practices by other practices that attend to the baseline context.  It requires FLEX Partners to understand FLEX so that their services properly fit into FLEX.