What If?

What if a leader in Scrum, Kanban, Lean, Flow, SAFe, design patterns, ATDD, …

… when he saw a challenge with a framework he worked on overcoming it

… was focused on results not on creating a unique framework

… didn’t agree with others that there were limitations on what could be done

… didn’t think simple to understand meant difficult to implement

… attended to the dilemmas in creating approaches that were straightforward to start and guided you in improvement

… respected people’s knowledge and didn’t think they should trust consultant’s recommendations but trust themselves after a little guidance

… believed consultants should work themselves out of a job as soon as possible

… thought the attention should be on the work, not the framework

… argued for what worked, not defended frameworks

… put together a framework that incorporated the good that was learned while avoiding the limitations that had been accepted

After 20 years of working on this, there is, and the result is a new kind of framework. One based on patterns thinking that provides a tailored start and includes how to learn to improve. It’s based on laws of development, not my opinion. The first online workshop (with me guiding you) starts this week.

Please let me know if you’re interested.

How does your approach help you start and learn?

Note: This post is one of a series in the post Questions to ask about your approach.

Frameworks should provide a quick start while helping organizations continue to improve. Here are a few different approaches taken.

I. Provide a preset framework that has you do what it says until you learn to adjust (Scrum). The challenge with this is that the preset practices may not fit. This may have them lose faith in the entire transition. In addition, there is nothing in the framework that tells them how to transcend the starting practices. People may eventually feel locked in and just try new things with little guidance.

II. Provide some theory with preset practices (SAFe). This has somewhat the same challenges as I. above with the additional challenge of putting people into cognitive overload which results in few principles being remembered.

Both I & II focus on learning the framework with no training provided to transcend it.

III. Provide great detail in principles and let them figure out the practices. This does ground people in principles, but most want an answer to “what do I do?”

IV. Provide principles, a starting set of practices with options and a roadmap on how to select the practices that work for you. This gets people started on something that works for them while providing a way to improve. Yes, this is FLEX.

Does your approach utilize the concept of smallest realizable chunk of value that can be realized?

One of the cornerstones of Flow, Agile and the Lean Startup is quick delivery of value to customers. This reduces waste by focusing on what’s of greatest value while enabling pivoting and creating a tight bond between the organization and its customers.

We call this concept the Minimum Business Increment (MBI). The intention is to answer two questions when faced with implementing an initiative. 1:”what is of highest value that I can deliver quickest?” 2: “what besides development is necessary for the realization of this value?” MBIs lie between epics and features in size and are what calculating cost of delay (CoD) should be done on. Calculating WSJF on epics or features doesn’t make sense. Only subsets of an epic as delivered at a time, WSJF should be calculated on that. Features may not provide value on their own, so CoD is incalculable. Continue reading “Does your approach utilize the concept of smallest realizable chunk of value that can be realized?”

What role does Flow play in your approach?

Don Reinertsen says “A flow-based process delivers information on a regular cadence in small batches. In fact, cadence helps lower transaction costs and makes small batches more economically feasible.” He also suggests the best measure for flow is reducing the cost of delay – that is, what delays in value realized cost in terms of lower revenues, opportunities lost and higher risk.

Achieving this requires reducing handoffs, managing queues and having a focus on small batches of work that deliver high value.

But all of this is akin to “buy low sell high.” Is your approach limited to providing you a set of practices to guide you or does it also provide you with an understanding of Flow so that you can tune its practices to your situation?

For example, forming trains when teams are well-formed is not difficult. But does your approach provide the principles of Flow so that handoffs and delays can be avoided even when the teams within the train are not cross-functional? Doing so can shorten the delivery (and planning) time considerably.

If there are delays in your workflow what tools does your approach provide for you to lower them other than the advice of a consultant?


this is one in a series of blogs. You can see the entire series at


You want to have Agile at scale but not to scale Agile

It’s is important that we understand the difference between Agile at scale and scaling Agile. Agile at scale means the organization is Agile. It can develop, deliver and pivot quickly. But it doesn’t mean that the projects are scaled. Large projects are an anathema to Agile as are large teams and trains. Scaled Agile should help us break workflows down into small and separate value streams so as to create efficiencies and quick feedback.

Continue reading “You want to have Agile at scale but not to scale Agile”

Does your approach enable business agility?

Many people are talking about business agility. But talking about it and doing something about it are two different things. To be clear, business agility is the ability to realize value quickly, sustainably, predictably and with high quality.

Doing this requires:

Continue reading “Does your approach enable business agility?”

Make your Essential SAFe adoption more effective by adding just one explicit concept

Starting with Essential SAFe does get people working together. But the real problem for most companies is that they can’t sequence work well and are working on too many too large items. This causes thrashing and delays delivery. You don’t have to implement the higher levels of SAFe to get much of the benefit they promise. All you have to do is make explicit a powerful concept missing in all of SAFe – the Minimum Business Increment (MBI).

Continue reading “Make your Essential SAFe adoption more effective by adding just one explicit concept”

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.