If we wanted to have a highly effective software development or knowledge-work organisation, aside from the necessary mindset, what would the-way-the-work-works look like? What would our dream be?
Well, for me it would include certain essential (and therefore, non-negotiable) aspects:
- In-band change (seamless integration of day-to-day management and continuous improvement).
- Covalence (attending to the composite needs of all stakeholders, concurrently).
- Value-driven (deliveries systematically prioritised according to covalent value).
- Smooth, continuous flow (single-piece flow, if this best meets the stakeholders’ needs).
- Maintenance of adequate slack.
- Optimisation of delays and cycle (feedback delay) times.
- The people (front-line, workers) doing the work take all decisions about the work (guided by covalent value and the organisation’s purpose). Cf. Auftragstaktik, Drive
- A pervasive belief that the system (the way the work works) is the overriding determinant of the effectiveness of the organisation. Cf. W E Deming.
- Widespread understanding that collective mindset determines the way the work works.
- An appreciation that product characteristics (look, feel, utility, evocativeness) derive from the way the work works (Conway’s Law).
- Explicit limits on work in progress.
- Key (engineering) information is visible in real-time.
- A multi-skilled (generalising specialist, Cthulhu-shaped) workforce.
- Esprit de corps and a sense of fellowship exists at the organisational level (as opposed to having e.g. standing teams). Cf. The Regiment (British Army).
- Individuals strive for personal fulfilment through e.g. mastery
- Continuous innovation, no only on product and technology, but more importantly in the way the work works and its institutions and other sacred cows.
Ackoff calls this approach – imagining what the ideal future might look like, and working backwards from there to where we are today – “Interactive Planning“.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, the above attributes form the core blueprint for FlowChain.