The FLEX Playbook

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Disciplined Agile Value Stream Consultant Workshop

The FLEX Playbook

FLEX (Flow and Lean for Enterprise Transformation) is a business process model that illustrates what actions will result in an organization being able to achieve business agility. Business agility is the ability for an organization to provide value to its customers quickly, reliably, sustainably, and with high quality.

FLEX provides a high-level model that illustrates the steps organizations need to achieve to be effective. While organizations require a surprisingly similar set of capabilities to achieve business agility, the steps to get to accomplishing these varies due to several factors. These include:

  • The organization’s methods of portfolio and product management as well as how they develop and maintain their products and services
  • The industry they are in
  • Their culture
  • The size and structure of the organization

What is required is to identify and implement a series of steps to achieve the transition from where the organization is to where it wants to be. This series of steps, however, is neither mechanistic nor predictable. Changing organizations is difficult for many reasons. Instead, each step is undertaken from the higher view of managing the transition being attempted. Steps are initiated and evaluated. The plan is adjusted based on the reality of what is being accomplished, or not. Our understanding and intentions are adjusted accordingly.

We call this series of steps the FLEX Playbook.  It includes those steps that appear to be most likely to succeed in improving an organization’s business agility, but it also includes alternatives and actions to take when things don’t turn out as we’d like or expect.

What’s in the FLEX Playbook

The playbook contains:

  • Plays
  • Play sets
  • Concepts
  • Principles

A Play

Plays are actions that companies execute as a single step. Creating a cross-functional team would be an example of a play. Plays are described as:

Name: The name of the play.

Situation: Describes the circumstances in which this play is used.  This may be when it is used on its own or when used in a play set.

Desired result: The intention of the play described as the desired behavior to achieve. It also includes what to check for to validate the result has been achieved.

Concepts required: Plays require a knowledge of particular artifacts, concepts or other plays in order to be effective. The required concepts do not have to explain exactly why the play will work but must be sufficient so that people can take the actions required.

Actions to take: This is the description of the play itself.  Plays are always about taking action.

Principles followed (why it works): After describing the play there is an opportunity to explain why it works. An effective way to do this is to point out the principles the play is attending to and to have those about to use it identify with these principles by reflecting on their past experience.

A Play Set

Effective action often requires a set of actions to take. Each action is defined as a play and the collection is called a play set.  The plays in a set may be intended to be done in a particular order, in parallel, or interactively.

Name: The name of the play set.

Intended result: The intended result of the play set. This includes both a description of the result and how to validate it has been achieved.

Situation: Situation: Describes the circumstances in which this play set is used.

Plays in the set:  The collection of plays in the set. They are listed in approximate order in which they will be applied, but the exact way and order in which they will be applied is described in the “plays to make” section.

Concepts required: These would be concepts required beyond the concepts required for the plays in this set.  Sometimes the overall set of actions are attending to a bigger principle or concept that would be useful.

Plays to make: This describes how the plays in this set are to be performed.

Principles followed (why it works): After describing the play set there is an opportunity to explain why it works. An effective way to do this is to point out the principles the play is attending to and to have those about to use it identify with these principles by reflecting on their past experience.