The Book of TameFlow
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The Book of TameFlow

Theory of Constraints Applied to Knowledge-Work Management

About the Book

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This book describes advanced applications of the TameFlow Approach - a pragmatic systems-thinking approach for creating breakthrough performance-innovation in knowledge-intensive digital-businesses. You will learn how to apply the Theory of Constraints to knowledge-work, and in particular to handle coordination, synchronization and prioritization in "PEST" environments, where you have multiple Projects or Products; multiple Events or deadlines; multiple Stakeholders; and multiple Teams.

Focus is on producing business outcomes and customer value with tangible bottom line results. The TameFlow Approach provides business agility to change direction at speed and at scale by dramatically improving organizational performance beyond that of mainstream Agile or "agile-like" methods and frameworks (Kanban, Scrum, SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, Scrum@Scale, Enterprise Scrum, etc.), and providing new means to tame the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) of modern knowledge-work.

About the Author

Steve Tendon
Steve Tendon

I accelerate business performance in collaborative knowledge-work without compromising humanity, sustainability, or quality, through patterns, mental models and emerging technologies.

I am the author of "The Book of TameFlow: Theory of Constraints Applied to Knowledge-Work Management," among many others.

Table of Contents

  • About this Book
    • Is this book for you?
    • What you need to know before reading this book
    • Scope of applicability the TameFlow Approach
    • Relevance of this book
    • How this book is organized
      • Igniting High-Performance
      • Getting More for Nothing with Flow Efficiency
      • Acting on the Archimedean Lever that Boosts Performance: the Constraint
      • Maximizing Business Value in Knowledge-Work
      • Preparing for High Performance Execution and Governance
      • Achieving High Performance Execution and Governance
    • Credits
    • Typographical Conventions
    • Disclaimers
      • Author Views
      • Quotations
    • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Prologue
    • The Story of Herbie
    • Herbie and Your Work Flow
    • The Five Focusing Steps
      • Step 1: Identify the Constraint - “Herbieeeee!”
      • Step 2: Exploit the Constraint - “C’mon Herbie! Speed up!”
      • Step 3: Subordinate to the Constraint - “Everybody stays behind Herbie!”
      • Step 4: Elevate the Constraint - “Everybody carries a piece of Herbie’s gear!”
      • Step 5: Repeat!
      • The Unstated Step 0
      • The Extra Step 6
    • The Secret of all Steps
  • PART 1—Igniting High Performance
  • 1—Patterns to Get Started!
    • A Patterns Based Approach
    • Baby Steps toward Improvement
      • Pattern Network Traversal is not Stage-Gated Project Management
      • Actionable Use of Metrics
      • Iterative Process of Ongoing Improvement
    • Pattern 1 - Leave No One Behind
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 2 - One Slice at a Time
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effect
    • Pattern 3 - Set The Goal
      • The Goal
      • Critical Success factors
      • Necessary Conditions
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effect
    • Pattern 4 - Prime the Mindset
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effect
    • Pattern 5 - Measure The Ends and Have a Plot
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effect
    • Pattern 6 - Show the Work
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 7 - Show the Flow
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 8 - Show the Numbers
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 9 - Limit Work in Process
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 10 - Make MOVEs
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 11 - Forecast (or Estimate)
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 12 - Place and Use the Buffers
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 13 - Bake the Whole Cake
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 14 - Set Priorities and Sequences and Get to Full-Kitting
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 15 - Keep Feeding Herbie
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 16 - Catch the Signals
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 17 - Stand Up for a Cause
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 18 - Swarm the Block
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 19 - Bubble Baths
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effect
    • Pattern 20 - Reason Things Out
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 21 - Look Back at the Roots
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Pattern 22 - Become a Focused Company
      • Assignment
      • Expected Effects
    • Takeaways
  • PART 2—Getting More for Nothing with Flow Efficiency
  • 2—The Power of Explicit Mental Models
    • What is this TameFlow, anyway?
    • What is Flow and Throughput?
    • Decision-Making through Explicit Mental Models
    • A Mental Model to Explain the Business Value of Flow
    • The Desire to Increase Performance
    • Increasing Performance through Effort Bears Many Downsides
    • The Rate of Demand is Important Too
    • The Difference Between Demand and Delivery is Even More Important
    • Why Companies are Always Overburdened
    • The Hideous Effects of Multitasking
    • The Business Value of Matching Delivery to Demand
    • Thinking about the Demand Line instead of the Delivery Line
    • The Quest for Stability and Predictability
    • Unintended Consequences of Good Intentions
    • Takeaways
  • 3—Postpone Commitment and Limit Work in Process
    • Limiting Work in Process
    • Postpone Commitment - But We Cannot Wait!
    • Takeaways
  • 4—Flow Efficiency, Little’s Law and Economic Impact
    • Touch Time and Wait Time
      • Controlling the Wait Time
      • Getting the Flow Efficiency Calculation Right
      • Wait Time and Options
    • The Perspective of the Work Item
      • Thinking about Touch Time and Wait Time in Practice
    • Work Faster or Deliver Sooner?
    • What is Flow Efficiency?
      • Flow Efficiency, Multitasking and Other Time Snatchers
      • Beware of Sprints - A Big Time Snatcher
    • What is Little’s Law?
      • Assumptions of Little’s Law
      • Stability and Mental Models
      • Little’s Law and the Theory of Constraints
      • Little’s Law and Flow Efficiency
    • Economic Impact
    • Takeaways
  • 5—Utility of Flawed Mental Models
    • Flawed Mental Models are not Necessarily Bad
    • A Good Wrong Reason to Accept a Flawed Mental Model
      • Misunderstanding the Effect of Wait Time on Little’s Law
      • Alleged Economic Benefits for the Wrong Reasons
      • Why the Flawed Model has Utility
    • The Shortcomings of the Model
      • Reducing Wait Time does not Increase Throughput (Directly)
      • The Real Beneficial “Side Effect” of Improving on Wait Time
      • The Importance of Proper Metrics
    • Effects and Limits of “Deliver Sooner”
      • Reducing Wait Time vs Touch Time
      • Effect of Removing Multitasking
      • Overall Effect of Reducing Wait Time
      • When to Switch from Wait Time to Touch Time
    • Improving Flow Efficiency is a Low Hanging Fruit
    • Takeaways
  • PART 3—Acting on the Archimedean Lever that Boosts Performance: the Constraint
  • 6—Where to Focus Improvement Efforts
    • On Bottlenecks and Constraints
      • Bottlenecks are not Constraints
      • Constraints are not only Bottlenecks - There are Other Kinds of Constraints
    • Where to Improve, Where to Invest
    • Takeaways
  • PART 4—Maximizing Business Value in Knowledge-Work
  • 7—Constraints in the Work Flow and in the Work Process
    • VUCA and PEST
    • Constraint in the Work Flow and Constraint in the Work Process
      • Where is the Constraint?
    • The “Painting Gadgets” Example
      • From Work Flow to Work Process
    • Shape and Form of Demand
    • Relation to Special Cause Variation and Common Cause Variation
    • Takeaways
  • 8—Understanding PEST Environments
    • Overview of the TameFlow Simulation
    • Simulating a PEST Environment: Initial Setup
    • The Work Flow and Work Process for a Single Project and Four Teams
    • Round 1 - The Warm Up
    • Round 2 - First Estimation
    • Round 3 - Two Projects and Conflicts of Interests Immediately Emerge
      • Skipping the Line Becomes the Norm
      • Bonuses, Rewards and Budgets Create Conflicts of Interests
    • Round 4 - Ten Projects and Three Product Owners
    • Takeaways
  • 9—Finding the Constraint in PEST Environments
    • Impact of the Shape and Form of Demand
    • Expose all (Virtual) Queues of Work Load without WIP Limit Distortions
    • Focus on the Constraint in the Work Flow First, then on the Constraint in the Work Process
    • Takeaways
  • 10—Drum-Buffer-Rope Scheduling
    • Reflections on Column WIP Limits
    • Introducing Drum-Buffer-Rope in the Work Flow
      • Drum-Buffer-Rope in Practice
    • Drum-Buffer-Rope Portfolio Kanban Boards
      • Location vs. Visualization of the Constraint in the Work Flow
      • The Minimum Number of Work Items in the Buffer
    • The Constraint in the Work Process of the Constraint in the Work Flow
    • Takeaways
  • 11—Portfolio Prioritization and Selection in PEST Environments
    • Prioritizing for Business Value
    • Quantifying the Work Load
    • Economic Prioritization and Selection via Throughput Rate
    • Cost of Delay and CD3
      • Further Notes on Cost of Delay and CD3
    • The Need for Estimation Practices
      • Estimation/Forecast of duration, not of due dates
      • T-Shirt Sizing
      • Probabilistic Forecasting with Flow Metrics
      • Advanced Application: Estimate the Flow Time on the Constraint alone
    • Takeaways
  • PART 5—Preparing for High Performance Execution and Governance
  • 12—Flow Efficiency, DBR and TameFlow Kanban Boards
    • New Types of Kanban Boards
    • Flow Efficiency Board
      • Full-Kitting
      • Explicit Waiting for and In Process Columns
    • Managing Flowbacks
      • Flow Efficiency Inflation with Flowbacks and Conventional Kanban Boards
      • Flowbacks with Flow Efficiency Boards
      • How to Manage Flowbacks in TameFlow
      • Flow Efficiency Boards and Complex Work Flows
    • Drum-Buffer-Rope Board
      • Using Flow Efficiency Boards to Identify the Constraint in the Work Process
      • From Flow Efficiency Boards to DBR Boards
      • Buffer Zones and Buffer Signals
    • The TameFlow Throughput Management Board
    • Revisiting the Portfolio Board
    • Acclamation of Idleness
      • The Unresolvable Conflict between Idleness and Cost Accounting
      • Cultural Impact of the TameFlow Boards
      • Psychology of Wait States
    • Takeaways
  • 13—Outcomes, Values and Efforts in PEST Environments
    • The Virtue of Minimalism: the Minimal Outcome-Value Effort (MOVE)
    • What is a MOVE?
      • A Unit of Business Outcome
      • A Unit of (Financial) Throughput Value
      • A Unit of Costing and Reporting
      • A Unit of Work and Delivery
    • A Small Target-Scope Work Package
    • The Balance of Two Opposing Forces
    • Unit of Commitment
    • Mechanism to Limit Work in Process
    • Risk Managed via Time and not Scope Adjustments
      • A Note on Agile
    • Managing Scope Variation
      • Target-Scope is not Fixed-Scope
    • A MOVE View of the Simulation
    • Takeaways
  • 14—Introduction to Execution Management Signals
    • The Logic of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
      • Point Estimates vs. Probability Distributions
    • Critical Chain Planning
    • The Critical Chain Plan
    • The Critical Chain Buffer
    • Buffer Zones
    • Buffer Consumption and Buffer Burn Rate
    • Execution Management Signals
    • Visual Execution Management and MOVEs
      • The MOVE Buffer
      • Visual Execution Management
    • From One Team and One MOVE to One Team and Many MOVEs
    • From One Team and Many MOVEs to Many Teams with Many MOVEs
    • Takeaways
  • 15—Introduction to Full-Kitting
    • Introduction to Full-Kitting
    • We don’t have time for this!
      • Capitalizing on Excess Capacity
      • Seizing a Zero-Cost Benefit
      • Improving the Work Process
    • We Cannot Do Big Up-Front Design in a VUCA World and be Agile
    • Dedicated Roles
    • The Nature of Full-Kitting
    • Simulating Full-Kitting on the Client-Side
    • Simulating Missing Information
    • Round 1 - Heads or Tails as Bearer of Information
    • Round 2 - Avoiding Flowbacks
    • Round 3 - Simulating Full-Kitting on the Team Side
    • Takeaways
  • PART 6—Achieving High Performance Execution and Governance
  • 16—Full-Kitting as Ongoing Executive Activity
    • Failure Demand
    • The Full-Kitting Work Flow
    • The Backlog Column
    • The Full-Kit Column
    • The Prioritization Column
    • The Ranking Column
    • The Committed Column
    • The In Flow Column
    • Operational Full-Kitting
    • Takeaways
  • 17—Execution Management in PEST Environments
    • Many Moving MOVEs
    • Virtual Integration Points
    • Planning with Respect to the Constraint
    • Monitoring the MOVE Buffers’ Consumptions
    • The Constraint Caused by Execution Issues
    • Full-Kitting with an Eye on the State of Execution
    • Takeaways
  • 18—Operational Governance in PEST Environments
    • Constraints Everywhere!
    • Early Detection Signals
    • Focused Governance
    • The Meaning of Red
    • Overload Detection
      • Thinking is Still Required
    • Full-Kitting Revisited
    • Management by Exception - Limit Meetings
    • Management by Exception - Ad-hoc Meetings
    • Effective and Focused Standup Meetings with the TameFlow Approach
    • MOVE Reviews and Retrospectives
    • Informational Flow
    • Notes on Cadences
      • Specific Kanban Cadences
    • A Vocabulary for Thinking about Constraints
      • Constraint in the Work Flow
      • Constraint in the Work Process
      • Constraint in the Work Execution
    • Takeaways
  • Epilogue - It is Never “Done!”
    • What Have we “Done?”
    • The Prevalence of Mental Models
    • Mindsets and Attitudes to Win in a VUCA World
  • APPENDICES
  • Patterns and Pattern Languages
    • What Patterns are Not
    • Alexandrian Patterns
      • Introduction to Alexandrian Patterns
      • More about Alexandrian Patterns
    • Patterns are a Form of Knowledge
    • The Connection between Organizational Patterns for Software Development and Organizational Design
      • Relevance and Applicability of Design Patterns to Organizational Design
      • Pattern Languages are Means of Expression of Organizational Design
    • How Patterns become a Pattern Language
      • Pattern Collection and Qualification
      • The Alexandrian Pattern Form
      • Pattern Language Development
    • The Generative Power of Patterns and Pattern Languages
    • Pattern Language Validation
      • Coherence
      • Completeness
  • Bibliography
  • About the Author

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