Book cover: Tame your Work Flow
Tame your Work Flow

Today we tackle the whole of Part 7 which is Chapter 21 and the Epilogue.  Next week we will complete our re-read of Tame Your Work Flow with concluding remarks.  On November 28th we will kick off our re-read of Great Big Agile.

Chapter 21, Patterns to Get Started, is an implementation primer.  The term pattern is a useful shorthand for a general, reusable solution to a problem. In the context of this book, the patterns identified are useful for getting started adopting TameFlow. Logistically many of the patterns in the chapter assume successfully completing an earlier pattern(s). For example, Pattern 1: Leave No One Behind, focuses on making sure the C Level Executives are onboard and actively involved with adopting TameFlow.  This is a precursor to success with the remaining 21 patterns.

The authors use a type of Alexandrian Pattern approach to documenting the reusable solutions in the chapter.  Each pattern includes:

  • A description that includes why it is important.
  • The actionable assignment comprises the what to do part of the pattern.
  • Expected effects that you need to see or measure to declare the pattern done.

The entries in the chapter are referred to as “proto or candidate patterns” which foreshadows the next book in the TameFlow series. Proto or not, the patterns are useful for getting a sense of how to put in place the TameFlow approach and for challenging common mental models. Each pattern represents a small but important piece of the puzzle for moving forward.

One of the important aspects of the chapter is the insistence that for each pattern the affected results need to be “detected categorically.”  Never assume results magically happen. The patterns described are not “fire and forget”; the intent is that the reader uses one pattern at a time, confirms the results, and then moves on to another. Whether you use a Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA), observe–orient–decide–act (OODA), or an inspect and adapt approach to process improvement, if you can’t prove that a step worked don’t move forward and layer on more changes. I often see teams decide to adopt several changes to how they will work in retrospectives and then fail to make sure they yield the intended results. The same process occurs in the next retrospective when the problem does not go away. Over time, processes get bloated and ineffective which leads to more change, change fatigue, and chaos. This is often why teams complain that retrospectives have no value.  This change failure scenario is a type of pattern often referred to as an anti-pattern.

In summary, Chapter 21 is a rich source of implementation advice for TameFlow.

The Epilogue’s title, “It is Never Done!” is a call to action and a summary of the book. One of the takeaways in this section was the insistence that, like Herbie (the boy scout from Goldratt’s The Goal), we should be prepared because the world in which we work is complex and complicated. You never know what is just around the corner. 

Next week we will reflect on this re-read and how it changed my thoughts on Tame your Work Flow.