In this podcast, I talk with Søren Pedersen.  We talk about teams, value streams, and leveraging agile to improve how teams deliver value.  We started with the definition of a team and then got into the practical nitty-gritty of defining value streams and coaching teams. 


SØREN PEDERSEN is a co-founder of BuildingBetterSoftware, a strategic leadership consultant, and an international speaker. With more than fifteen years of software development experience, Søren knows how to help businesses meet their digital transformation goals. Using Agile methodologies, he helps leaders achieve organizational


Focus On Flow

Helping an individual agile team interface with a waterfall organization is only a stopgap measure.  At some point, the level of noise and frustration generated between the team and the organization will wear everyone down. This will end up in a lose-lose outcome. Taking the three-steps outlined before today will reduce the conflict and pave the way for change. The steps suggested are:

  1. Prioritizing Work Entry (discussed in An Agile Team In A Waterfall World)
  2. Postponing Commitment (discussed in An Agile Team In A Waterfall Company – Postponing Commitment)
  3. Addressing Values, Principles, And Behaviors (discussed in Values, Principles, And Behaviors

To affect the direction of change and to deliver maximum value requires organizing people and teams around the flow of value in your organization. Modifying Steve Tendon and Daniel Doiron’s definition of flow a bit (from their new book Tame Your Work Flow which is being discussed on Re-read Saturday, “flow is the amount of work or value delivered per unit of time while speed is how fast work moves through the value chain.” The definition provides a framework to consider throughput using a systems thinking perspective (think big picture).  Steve and Daniel define 4 types of flow: (more…)

Christmas Lights

Not everything is linear

Value Stream Mapping originated in manufacturing. The diagrams we all know love can be traced back to Charles Knoeppel’s book Installing Efficiency Methods (1918). The problem of lifting this technique directly from manufacturing is that in knowledge work there are more shared people and resources, variability in processing time and path, and changing requirements. Mapping this morass gets messy and often frustrating. Strategies for addressing two common issues, shared people and resources and variability in processing time, are described below: (more…)

River with old mill stones in it

Too much detail might like having a mill stone around your neck!

Value streams are an important tool for process change. Value streams present the big picture, they are a system thinking tool. There are several ways practitioners mess up the big picture and therefore lose value when generating value streams. Two of the most common are: (more…)

Rapids in Oregon

Messing up your value stream can put you on the rocks!

Mapping your value stream is an important starting place for channeling change and then for organizing around change. Mapping a value stream is a first step, not an endpoint. If your understanding of your value stream is wrong you will have the data needed to make all sorts of erroneous decisions. Two value stream mapping issues lead to incorrect mapping and later to compounding the error by making bad decisions for organizing work and for improvement. (more…)



Value streams that go over a cliff are a problem!

 A value stream is a set of activities that are intended to create and deliver a consistent set of deliverables that are of value to customers. Organizations map value streams as a tool to visualize the flow of work. Once visualized, the flow can be improved and the organizational structure can be changed in the service of delivering more value to the right people (at the right time and at the right price). The problem is that value stream mapping, while conceptually simple, is in reality almost always hard! There are several common issues that pop up or cause trouble when developing a value stream map. They are: (more…)

Once or twice a year I do a webinar for The Great IT Professional. They are a fantastic group and deliver a ton of value to the IT community. Today the webinar I delivered was titled: Value Stream and Process Mapping. The focus of the session was to give listeners an understanding of the differences between a value stream and process map, the questions each of these techniques are useful for addressing, and a place to start the process for each.  

I have heard that the audio was spotty (at best). I have been assured by the folks at The Great IT Professional that the recording is solid, please listen when you are notified that the audio is ready. I have no clue why some people had trouble and others had no problem.  

Regardless of the audio difficulties, the slides are available for your perusal.  The webinar is an extract of a full-day workshop deployed in organizations that are interested in learning to document value streams. The slides are available via the link below: 

Webinar Slides

Let me know if you would like to discuss a value stream mapping workshop or if you have comments on the slides at

More information on Value Chain, Value Stream, and Process Mapping: (more…)

Seeds grow flowers!

Taking a very binary view of why people expend the effort to create value chain, value streams, and/or process maps, there are two reasons for mapping. The first is to generate a cost advantage by increasing efficiency. The second is to generate product differentiation. Each reason requires information about customers, how raw materials are transformed, and how the product is delivered.  The analysis and decision based on the maps are very different. Seed questions are a useful gathering data in a repeatable manner. Here are some sample mapping seed questions: (more…)

I recently presented a workshop on value chain mapping to the NE Ohio Scrum Users Group (note for those who say user groups are passe – this is one of seven heavily attend users group that I attend in multiple cities). Preparing for the workshop and then based on the reaction of the attendees, it became very apparent that three terms are often conflated or confused. The three concepts are value chain, value stream, and process map.  Each concept is a reflection of different level of analysis each are necessary to develop a solid understanding of how a piece of work is transformed into a shippable product and identifying the customer you are trying to serve. (more…)

A value stream is a set of activities that are intended to create and deliver a consistent set of deliverables that are of value to customers. Using the train metaphor, value is the cargo the train delivers.

A value stream is a set of activities that are intended to create and deliver a consistent set of deliverables that are of value to customers. Using the train metaphor, value is the cargo the train delivers.

The Agile Release Train (ART) in SAFe is the primary high-level tool used to organize activity to deliver value. Other frameworks (Agile and classic) use projects and programs to organize around the delivery of value and value’s alter ego, funding. ARTs are used to deliver, enhance and support the functionality needed for business facing value streams to exist within an organization.

A value stream is a set of activities that are intended to create and deliver a consistent set of deliverables that are of value to customers. Using the train metaphor, value is the cargo the train delivers. The term consistent in the definition is important to delineate an ART from a typical project or program. The Project Management Institute defines a project as a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result. A project or program might initiate or support a value stream in a non-scaled Agile organization, however the focus is on a temporary endeavor rather than on support an ongoing or consistent endeavor. The long-term focus makes it significantly easier to embrace Agile principles.

Value streams reflect a business orientation that integrate strategic themes and needs into how an organization delivers value. The products and services of most organizations tend to be long lived, therefore value streams have the same long-term orientation. SAFe ARTs organize activity around value streams. In practice a value stream in an organization can be large enough to support multiple ARTs. A value stream is a requirement for an ART whether the ART develops a new value stream, enhances or supports an existing value stream, without access to business value it hard to generate strategic alignment within the organization. When ARTs (or any significant part of an organization) are out of strategic alignment, support in terms of budget, people and resources will be difficult to acquire. This will lead to disillusionment with the ART. Using our train metaphor, the engines, train cars and crew will be dispersed to other trains. Without strategic alignment an organization will not be able to support the structure of an ART and stable teams that are needed.

Value streams present the whole path an organization takes to deliver value. The phrase “concept to cash” is often used describe the breadth of vision that a value stream must have. Value stream taking the big picture takes a on a whole business context rather than purely a software development project or programs. To adjust to the breadth of vision ARTs need to incorporate the needs of business process, architecture, systems as well as application software. Agile release chains make sense as long as they serve a real value chain.