Book cover: Tame your Work Flow
Tame your Work Flow

This week we tackle Chapter 19 of Steve Tendon and Daniel Doiron’s  Tame your Work Flow.  Chapter 19 combines many of the moving parts from the previous chapters into a set of tools for monitoring the execution of work.  The authors pick up at the portfolio level developed in Chapter 18. Portfolio items, once committed and placed into flow, can contain many groups of work that Steve and Daniel term Minimal Outcome-Value Effort or MOVEs (see week 14). Once in flow (being worked on), a flow manager picks up managing the MOVEs. 

Steve and Daniel use events as synchronization points for related work. Synchronization points allow leaders to plan and coordinate the completion of MOVEs and then use alignment to determine when each needs to start. The visualization on page 294 shows how by aligning end dates, the buffers (see week 15 of the re-read) can be used as signaling mechanisms. The consumption of buffers provide the flow manager with an early warning so that they can try to change the trajectory (green – ok, red – start to act, black – act aggressively you’re late). Changes could (and probably should) include moving people to help, attacking issues blocking work, and in some cases escalating problems to executives.

The book uses three types of synchronization points. They are:

  1. Real, for example a hard date. I have worked in retail systems more than once during my career. Having all the changes needed for Black Friday (a key shopping day) in place and tested the Tuesday before Thanksgiving was one of those non-negotiable dates for all interrelated systems. 
  2. Virtual. This type of synchronization point is useful to coordinate related, but not necessarily interdependent systems.
  3. Made up (the authors use the term purposeful). The Scaled Agile Framework Enterprise (SAFe) uses sprint and program increments in this manner. In all cases, the line in the sand created by the synchronization point is to help coordinate and monitor progress.  The use of buffers increases the value of the synchronization points. 

A new term added in this chapter is the Constraint in the Work Execution. The authors define this constraint as “the work pProcess that is mostly affected by unfavorable variation, to the extent that its buffer consumption is the worst in the entire portfolio of currently ongoing MOVEs.” This concept is important because while we know to manage the constraint in a MOVE, and to manage the MOVE that is the constraint on the portfolio item, a shock to the system that impacts execution can create a new constraint that trumps them all. If something happens that causes a MOVE to start chewing up its buffer the flow manager can take immediate action even if the new constraint is just temporary.

Previous Entries!

Week 1: Logistics and Front Matter

Week 2: Prologue (The Story of Herbie) –

Week 3: Explicit Mental Models 

Week 4: Flow Efficiency, Little’s Law and Economic Impact 

Week 5: Flawed Mental Models  

Week 6: Where To Focus Improvement Efforts 

Week 7: Introduction to Throughput Accounting and Culture 

Week 8: Accounting F(r)iction and  Show Me the Money 

Week 9: Constraints in the Work Flow and in the Work Process 

Week 10: Understanding PEST Environments and Finding the Constraint in PEST Environments 

Week 11: Drum-Buffer-Rope Scheduling 

Week 12: Portfolio Prioritization and Selection in PEST Environments 

Week 13: Flow Efficiency, DBR, and TameFlow Kanban Boards 

Week 14: Outcomes, Values, and Efforts in PEST Environments

Week 15: Introduction to Execution Management Signals 

Week 16: Introduction to Full Kitting