This book is designed to be used as a guide for organizations to achieve business agility – the quick realization of value predictably, sustainably and with high quality. It does this by codifying the author’s 20+ years of experience in Lean, theory of flow, theory of constraints, Agile, Scrum, Kanban, technical agility and more in improving organizations. It presents what needs to happen for organizations to increase their effectiveness and how to accomplish this.
As described in the preface (this one is worth reading, really), FLEX comes from the mindset of Flow and uses Lean and Agile to help achieve it. It takes a scientific approach to product development that has a software component. While presenting theory to explain why practices work and what’s needed, you’ll find this book to be very pragmatic. It will teach you to see your challenges in a different way, provide a set of solutions to pick from to solve them, and give an holistic view so you can make localized changes that achieve global improvements.
This does not mean this is an adoption by the numbers approach. That’s not possible since we live in a world of complexity. The science of product development flow along with the laws of software development are presented within the context of human complexity and organizational behavior. It is not enough to know what to do, it must be clear why these are good concepts so that people don’t resist them. Although I’ve labeled the approach FLEX, it is not intended to be a proprietary approach. Rather it is a scientific approach pulling from all known disciplines that add value to this difficult endeavor.
The FLEX approach is simple:
Who This Book Is For
This book is for people who want to be involved in deciding what they should be doing. If you are looking for a cookie cutter approach with a preset solution, this book is not for you. However, if you want to be given a model in which to understand your challenges and how to solve them, you will find value here. You won’t have to reinvent the wheel – most of the challenges organizations now have are not new and have been solved in one or more ways already.
While useful for anyone who wants to learn about how to improve the capabilities of their organization, FLEX has been specifically designed for the following personas:
FLEX stands on its own but builds all of the popular Lean and Agile methods available today. If you are using SAFe I’ve added a section on how to use FLEX to both enhance and simplify SAFe.
The heart of our approach is using Flow and Lean principles to guide business stakeholders, product managers, product owners, teams, ops, support and marketing (and anyone else who is needed) in how to make better decisions to achieve business agility – the quick realization of value predictably, sustainably and with high quality.
FLEX is the accumulation of years of small to large-scale adoption by Net Objectives consultants (since ’05).
Organization and How To Use This Book
After a brief overview of FLEX, the book is divided into 7 parts:
Part I: An overview of the FLEX system with exercises. This part starts with what we’re trying to achieve – business agility – the quick realization of value predictably, sustainably and with high quality. I then explain how the theory of Flow – avoiding delays in workflow while focusing on creating what will be of greatest value to the organization and their customers – can be used to guide this. We then go through the value stream, identifying what’s in your organization’s way and what can be done to improve its process. By presenting a vision of an effective enterprise, it becomes clear what needs to happen to achieve it.
Part II: How to use FLEX in your organization. Understanding where we want to go is only half the picture. We need to see where we are so we can decide what our best course of action is. This part walks us through how to create an assessment of where we are and what we need to do to improve.
Part III: Topics In depth – Value Stream Wide. These are topics that run across the entire value stream and are presented to deepen what was presented in the first two parts. They are presented in a separate section to allow for quicker coverage of FLEX in parts I and II.
Part IV: Topics In depth – Practices. These are practices that are useful and are presented to deepen what was presented in the first two parts. They are presented in a separate section to allow for quicker coverage of FLEX in parts I and II.
Part V: Topics In depth – Teaching and Adoption. These are topics that relate to both internally teaching concepts and about how to adopt new methods. They are presented to deepen what was presented in the first two parts. They are presented in a separate section to allow for quicker coverage of FLEX in parts I and II.
Part VI: Using FLEX to both enhance and simplify SAFe. FLEX provides a more effective, yet simpler Lean Portfolio and Product Management system than SAFe’s. This part discusses how to use it with SAFe while keeping those practices in SAFe that works.
Part VII: Additional resources on the portal.The Next Objectives Portal has a huge amount of information on it. This Part is an entry point for those reading this book.
The book is laid out this way to enable a quick read through FLEX and using it. The reader can go to the in depth topics when they want to learn more.
There are several different ways to read this book:
If you want to learn more about FLEX you can take an online course at the Net Objectives University or take a live course in Orange County, CA May 6-8 or in Seattle in June (both led by Al Shalloway). If you want to learn about how to adopt FLEX in your organization please contact the author, Al Shalloway