Part I: Understanding What Is Required for Flow in Your Organization – A Workbook

There are currently two different popular ways of improving an organization. The first is to adopt a framework, such as SAFe or LeSS. The second is to start where you are and make a series of small changes, each designed to provide some level of improvement. Both have advantages and disadvantages. FLEX uses a combination of both so that it can match the culture of the organization.

An advantage of the first approach is that it provides clear guidance on what to do – something many folks want. If it is an established approach, it may be easier to get people in their organization to buy into it. However, because the framework is preset, it may or may not fit the company adopting it. Also, all too often, the framework, which should be considered a mid-point, somewhere between where the organization is and where they want to end up, becomes the targeted end-point. There are all too many cases of SAFe adoptions that started out well only to stagnate later or that stagnated early because they were wanting to do SAFe “by the book” but the book didn’t fit. Also, the initial change of adopting a framework may be more than the organization can bear – and by attempting too much, it may backfire if a retrenchment is necessary.

The challenge with starting where you are and only doing small changes is that is misses the opportunity to break some existing practices that have a stranglehold on improvement. Also, if an organization doesn’t already have a culture of small changes it may be that nothing is really done.

There is now a third option, resulting from the deeper understanding of Lean and flow that has emerged in the last decade. This involves:

  • creating a vision of the future for what an effective organization looks like
  • seeing the difference between this and where the organization currently stands in comparison with that
  • creating a roadmap to close the gap between the current state and the desired future state

Taking this path has several advantages over the first two by providing:

  • An established starting point tailored to the company adopting it
  • A roadmap which can provide context for the series of small steps to take
  • A vision that will likely never be reached but provides impetuous for continuous improvement

As a thought leader in XP, Scrum, Lean, Kanban and SAFe, I’ve used all 3 methods. I have found the third option most effective for those willing to take it. This part of the book discusses what the effective enterprise of the future looks like. We have found that even though companies are different and the way they will manifest their ideal vision will be different, that how companies need to be structured, decide what to work on, allocate their capacity to these work items and then realize value for themselves and their customers to be surprisingly similar.