The Flow Framework®
A Lean, Prescriptive Approach to the Transition from Project to Product
Most enterprises are struggling to survive the transition to the ‘Age of Software’. Just when tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are finding it exceedingly easy to enter new markets, traditional businesses are finding it exceptionally hard to adapt to a new reality, one where software is responsible for a greater and greater share of the value they’re providing.
Despite a lot of investment in accelerating and scaling software delivery through Agile and DevOps, the reality remains that beyond a few isolated pockets of success within software delivery, IT as a whole is still not delivering fast enough. As a result, the business is still unable to achieve the velocity required to truly break away from competition and escape the threat of disruption by startups and tech giants.
- Nokia, who once reigned supreme in the mobile device market, did not survive Apple’s disruption. But back in 2009 it was the poster child for Enterprise Agile.
- One of the world’s largest banks has recently failed its third transformation attempt in a decade, one that cost them a billion dollars and focused highly on DevOps. At the end of the two year “project”, everyone involved said the bank’s ability to deliver value was significantly reduced.
- After 110 years on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the last of its original members is out. This past June, General Electric was removed from the famous index, the bellwether of the US economy. GE, a giant of the industrial age, is no longer a prominent player in the American economy
Introducing the Flow Framework®
The management frameworks invented for the era of the industrial revolution, which focus on manufacturing principles, are not applicable or useful in the era of software development.
IT and business leadership of traditional business in every sector - financial services, healthcare, government, telecommunications, and automotive to name a few - need a new prescriptive framework to manage their software delivery organizations like the big tech companies.
Tasktop CEO Mik Kersten introduced the Flow Framework in his Amazon bestseller, Project to Product, to help IT leadership shift from a project-centric mindset to a product-oriented organization that realizes more value and responds faster to market changes.
The Flow Framework bridges the gap between technologists and business stakeholders, providing the methodology and the vocabulary to systematically relieve the bottlenecks that are slowing software delivery down and impacting business results.
The Flow Framework is a structured prescriptive approach to Value Stream Management in software delivery organizations. It identifies where work is flowing in your product value streams and where it’s slowing down so that you can decide how to address those bottlenecks. It also equips technology leaders with non-technical (and non-Agile) language to use with business stakeholders to set priorities and measure outcomes.
The Flow Framework generates its insights directly from the ground truth of what’s happening in the software delivery toolchain – the millions and millions of artifacts (requirements, features, epics, stories, features etc.) that represent the actual software delivery work.
The Flow Framework and Enterprise Agile Frameworks
A common challenge raised about enterprise agile frameworks, such as SAFe, LeSS, DA and Nexus, is that there is so much data, yet decision making is still hard.
The goal of the Flow Framework is to measure what your agile implementation is producing in coarse terms, to communicate better with the people in finance or the business who don’t “speak Agile” and whose eyes glaze over when they hear about “story points”.
In addition, Flow Framework measures the end-to-end software delivery value stream, from concept to cash. It tells you how long it takes to deliver something from the moment you’ve accepted the work. From strategic planning through deployment, through all the practitioners and tools involved. You can find out whether things are slowing down because they’re waiting for shared infrastructure, security testing or another team to finish their work. Armed with that knowledge, you can address those long wait times with appropriate solutions you know will have an impact.
To support the journey from project to product, the Flow Framework drives the business to identify and formalize the discrete product value streams and capture the ground truth of its performance directly from the tools. That helps manage a product value stream based on its own flow metrics and against its own business results. Furthermore, it empowers teams to measure the impact of the improvements they are making in accelerating the delivery of business value.
Excitement for the Flow Framework
“My newest favorite book. I think I can see a bit more of the future from here.”
- Dean Leffingwell, Creator of the Scaled Agile Framework
“I’ve found the Flow Framework from Mik Kersten to be incredibly useful for describing the finite ways that engineers spend time and the consequences of not addressing tech debt.”
- Gene Kim, Author, Researcher, and Founder of IT Revolution
“What justifies investing precious resources on resolving tech debt? In Mik Kersten’s amazing new book that I highly recommend, Project to Product, he provides the right answer: “The only tech debt work that should be prioritized is work that increases future flows through the value stream. Tech debt should never be done for the sake of software architecture alone.”
- Christopher O’Malley, President and CEO at Compuware
"One of my favorite reads last year is the book Project to Product. Mik Kersten provides a simple but effective framework that will be a game changer for the next evolution of an agile organization."
- Skip Angel, Business Agility Lead at Accenture
"Project to Product by Mik Kertsen is one of my new favourite books… well written and thought provoking. The Flow Framework provides great inspiration."
- Nick Brown, Agile Lead at PwC
"It was fantastic to hear Dr. Mik Kersten and the Tasktop team speak about the journey from Project to Product. Their insights and experiences help brands thrive in the age of digital disruption."
- Darrell Fernandes, Head of Client Services Technologies at TIAA
Mik’s Story and the Birth of the Flow Framework
Dr. Mik Kersten, Tasktop’s CEO, spent his entire career on a journey to transform how software is built.
During a decade as a developer at Xerox Parc, he realized that removing impediments from developers and connecting them to their users gives a sense of focus, flow and joy.
Mik devoted the next decade to founding Tasktop in an effort to bring that connectivity to large scale enterprise IT. As Tasktop CEO he met with hundreds of IT leaders who were struggling to change the way the business looks at technology - including Nokia, BMW and one of the world’s largest banks.
A series of epiphanies, which he describes in his book Project to Product, prompted Mik to create the Flow Framework for surviving and thriving in this Age of Digital Disruption. His aim is to teach traditional businesses how to align business strategy to the software architecture and organization structure, less they become obsolete.
“The change has become so rapid between those who’ve mastered software delivery at scale and the other organizations, that at today’s churn rate, half of the S&P 500 will be replaced in the next ten years,” says Kersten at his 2018 keynote at the DevOps Enterprise Summit.