FLEX as a Pattern Framework

A pattern is a solution to a recurring problem in a context. Christopher Alexander, who created the concept, says :
“Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.”

In FLEX’s case, the context is achieving business agility – the quick realization of value predictably, sustainably and with high quality. This, of course, requires solving several problems with each of these problems being solved in a different manner. FLEX groups these patterns those patterns that solve the same conceptual problem. Hence it consists of pattern groups with each group consisting of a set of patterns that solve the problem associated with the group. The primary groups are:

  1. Value stream management
  2. Strategies, & initiatives
  3. Portfolio management
  4. Product management
  5. Intake process
  6. Planning
  7. Development
  8. Release
  9. Realization

Patterns must include their purpose, the forces they deal with and their proposed solution(s). Patterns are also named in order to be able to identify them. This has the added value of improved communication.

Announcing The Net Objectives FLEX Training Program

I’m in the process of defining our FLEX Train-the-Trainer and FLEX Training program

I’m starting it out on LinkedIn in order to get feedback. There are two levels of certification and two levels of accreditation. I distinguish between ‘certification’ and ‘accreditation’ by having certification mean people are actually competent in what they are certified in while accreditation means they’ve taken a course so are being accredited with knowledge that the course taught. I am not a believer in meaningless certification one gets by merely taking a course and passing an exam (e.g., Scrum Master, SPC).

Why Net Objectives has created this program

Net Objectives has been on the forefront of Agile at scale for over a decade. Almost all methods are based on values and practices. Few are truly based on Lean-Thinking incorporating the theory of Flow as presented by Don Reinertsen. The challenge with basing an approach on practices is that workshops tend to focus on preset solutions or require too much thinking by participants. FLEX is an approach based on patterns of solution incorporating the following areas: Continue reading “Announcing The Net Objectives FLEX Training Program”

The Mistaken Assumptions of Essential SAFe and What They Tell Us

From the SAFe site:

  • With such a robust framework, the question becomes; how closely does an organization need to follow various SAFe practices to get the desired result?
  • [Essential SAFe] provides a starting point for implementing SAFe and describes the most critical elements needed to realize the majority of the framework’s benefit.

SAFe is projecting the word ‘robust’ (which means strong) on itself instead of using the more appropriate ‘complicated.’ This is merely putting lipstick on a pig.

SAFe’s complexity makes it hard to implement as a whole. There are many essential concepts in the higher levels, however. The choice becomes insufficient or overly complicated.

Essential SAFe has Mid to small size organizations (especially those within larger companies) lose the opportunity to solve one of their biggest problems – prioritizing what to work on. Claiming that one should start at the bottom is reckless.

The bottom line is that SAFe is an overly complex framework requiring one to start with only a part of it. But this violates what SAFe claims to be built on – systems-thinking and Lean. It also loses the opportunity of getting the higher levels involved quickly.

10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: The Goal is Business Agility

This podcast is part of a series, The 10 most important things I have learned from 20 years in Agile (June 3, 2019)

In this series, Al Shalloway shares some of the most important insights he’s had over this time and how they relate to each other.

This episode is about the Goal: Business Agility. Continue reading “10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: The Goal is Business Agility”

Issues with using preset training materials

It’s exciting to see how the competency of internal change agents is going up – many well above the average consultant. They don’t help in what to do as much of it being an issue of the time to do it

Turning to set training materials is often their only option. But using set materials without change is almost certainly not ideal for the organization. This makes it hard to adapt the method to the organization and avoid a “one-size fits-all” approach. While this may benefit the people selling the materials it is certainly not a benefit to the change agent

This is why FLEX has two courses:
1) FLEX for Change Agents. This is a 3 day course intended for people who will teach FLEX internally. Its high level agenda is:
Day 1: 1/2 day on FLEX, and a 1/2 day on doing an assessment to determine their organization’s challenges
Day 2: Full day on FLEX
Day 3: 1/2 day on how to use FLEX to create a starting framework that will work for their org, and a 1/2 day on how to teach FLEX

They then take a 2-day online workshop that provides the optional practices they need

At this point they can teach the 2nd FLEX course – Adopting FLEX. This is a 2-day course they teach to their organization that they’ve tailored themselves

Agile needs to be flexible

10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: The Goal is Business Agility

This podcast is part of a series, The 10 most important things I have learned from 20 years in Agile (June 3, 2019)

In this series, Al Shalloway shares some of the most important insights he’s had over this time and how they relate to each other.

This episode is about the Goal: Business Agility. Continue reading “10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: The Goal is Business Agility”

FLEX: A Pattern Language for Achieving Business Agility

Patterns are solutions to recurring problems within a context. A pattern language is a set of patterns that when combined solve a large problem. FLEX is a system that explicitly describes the process experts use to help an organization achieve business agility. These patterns include: Continue reading “FLEX: A Pattern Language for Achieving Business Agility”

The Minimum Business Increment (MBI) Template

MBIs represent both the smallest amount of value that can be implemented and realized while also containing all of what’s needed for this realization. In other words, MBIs are small but sufficient. If it’s bigger than necessary, you will make flow harder to achieve. If it is insufficient, product may be built but it won’t be effectively realized.

Here is what an MBI must contain. Continue reading “The Minimum Business Increment (MBI) Template”

Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) are very different from Minimum Business Increments (MBIs)

MVPs are used to discover when a product is useful. MBIs are used to define the smallest increment of value that can be built and released that realizes value for the business. Although both of these are about doing a small amount of work and releasing it, they are quite different in both intent and method.

An MVP is intended to create a new product without an existing customer base. It is built by taking the smallest step possible to determine if it is viable. An MBI is for building the smallest enhancement to an existing product. Continue reading “Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) are very different from Minimum Business Increments (MBIs)”