BOOK CLUB: Reading 'The Book of TameFlow'

@tendon In your book there is a description of “Pattern 1 - Leave No One Behind” referencing the story of Herbie.

No one should be left behind “…from the CEO to latest junior hire…”.

This sounds like hard work. This e.g. mean that the CEO and others should be able to have the same explicit mental models to make decisions. I wonder how to induce such shared and explicit mental models.

Any ideas on that?

What does it mean with “One Slice at a Time” as a pattern?

It reminds me of a metaphor I often use which is that of a layer cake.

Imagine you go into a restaurant for a nice meal. You also order dessert. Some layer cake would be nice.

When developing and delivering desired outcomes where IT including software development can be viewed as a means to the end of delivering the desired business outcomes I have used a “one slice at a time metaphor” - which is probably not the same as this pattern - while visualizing a layer cake might be helpful :slight_smile:

Imagine that someone served you only the bottom or the two bottom layers. It probably would not taste as well as a slice through all layers of a cake. So software should be developed one slice at a time. No one likes to just get a data base (could be the bottom layer of the cake) without the graphical user interface (which could be the top layer of the cake).

Maybe this is the same with organizational slices? You cannot just have the bottom slice(s).

Should we somehow set a goal - which is a pattern referenced in the book?

The argument is that we need a very clear goal that can be articulated by everybody.

Is that even possible - and what should that goal be?

Who defines this goal and is it co-created by everyone?

Hi, in chapter 8 it’s mentioned “TameFlow Simulation, which you can find described in detail in the TameFlow Games booklet, available for download for free at this book’s bonus page”, however the link lead to a “not found” page

Good catch, Brunello. Thank you.

It’s a remnant from the first edition. I will take it away.

I have retired the TameFlow Games booklet, as it was incomplete and insufficient. Instead, all simulations will be developed in the training of


How to induce? Connect the needs of Herbie to the needs of the CEO. Create the conditions for Enlightened Self-Interest to get triggered.

You start from the chosen operational team, and follow the hierarchy of command (or organizational structure) all the way up to the CEO. That’s the slice.

The term “slice” was chosen precisely because of the significance it has in software architectural patterns.

Scrum and similar “agile” approaches start with teams. Note the plural. Many teams. All the teams. And then they want to "scale’ upwards.

The slice of TameFlow starts with ONE team and includes all the staircase to heaven… ehm… to the CEO.

Lean and TOC start from the top and include the entire organization from the outset.

The slice of TameFlow is small, and much more manageable.

In the book there are references to Theory of Constraints and the Five Focusing Steps (5FS).

I wonder how one would go about identifying the constraint (step 1)?

There is a mention of a step 0 related to determining or agreeing on a goal - but how to do that in a large organization?

Any reflections?

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What to change?

What to change to?

How to cause the change?

If we run an experiment where we believe the result might be an improvement - how do we do that and to which extent do we apply scientific rigor, I wonder?

Here is a quote: “Expected Effects need to be detected categorically either through unequivocal observation or through effective measurement.”

Question: How de we prevent confirmation bias using a scientific approach? Any reflections?

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Interesting reading related to the “constraint”.

Could one constraint be our beliefs?


Your beliefs determine what you consider your “Goal.” So it is impossible for a belief to be a Constraint for the person who is the holder of that belief.

(You might believe that someone else’s belief is a Constraint for your Goal… but that’s another story.)

Thank you @tendon. So a constraint is something to focus on and not something keeping us (e.g. me back)?

So the way I think is not constraining / keeping me back (my beliefs and what I believe to be “true”)?

There is an interesting definition in your book: “Policy Constraint: Almost all companies have both explicit policies and unwritten rules of “how we do things around here.” Such policies and rules can be the real Constraint.”

I would argue that “unwritten rules of how we do things around here” is constraining us from thinking and behaving out side the box (not questioning our assumptions on what we “know to be true” - hence my reference to our beliefs, belief systems (total sum of life up until now).

You focus on the Constraint because it is holding us back!

Not really. The way you think might hold you back, but unless you realize it, it is not holding you back. That’s why we have the Enlightened Self-Interest. With ESI you will typically change your beliefs; and in so doing realize that your “old” beliefs were a constraint. For you. But at any given moment, your current beliefs are not holding you back now.

Operational Flow and Operational Throughput is interesting (maybe this is about doing what work fast / optimally).

So if that is about doing things right - how do we know if we are doing the right things using the TameFlow approach?

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Many ways.

The most powerful one is to apply Goldratt’s logical Thinking Processes.

If you don’t know what the right thing is, you resort (for instance) to @cperrone’s Popcorn Flow and perform fast cycles of validated learning experiments. You can use other validated experimental learning approaches, like Lean Startup or the Pretotyping.

If you are in a startup/innovation setting, you resort to Goldratt’s Six Technology Questions

If you are in a more structured product development setting, you can use ideas from Upstream Kanban

Ultimately, TameFlow doesn’t give you a recipe. You still need to engage your own thinking cells! :slight_smile:

Of course, you need to tackle the Constraint in your flow of thoughts…

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But @tendon - thinking for myself seems like hard work. Probably no way around it :slight_smile:

I know.

And asking questions will only take you that far. :rofl:

Sooner or later you will ask questions to yourself!

Will you answer then? :nerd_face:

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One part of the TameFlow approach is informed by Theory of Constraints.

Some organizations find themselves in so-called PEST environments; direct quote from the book by @tendon : “PEST environments, where we have to deal with multiple Projects or Products, Events (deadlines), Stakeholders and Teams.”.

Looking at the first of the four pillars of Theory of Constraints may offer a helping hand.

1st Pillar: Inherent Simplicity where we may consider that “FOCUS starts with what Not to do!” which seems meaningful to me in case of “overload” (too much parallel work in process by an individual; multitasking by an individual and so forth - which can also extend to more people collaborating).

My manager suggested that I try out one of his habits each Monday morning: Look at your calendar and remove anything not both important and urgent.

What would happen if this was done at a portfolio level for initiatives (e.g. programs, projects, epics etc.)?

What do you think?

I am asking myself a bunch of questions already.

How to answer them can be by trying something out in practice.

While thinking may be enjoyable - doing can be equally so - since this provides feedback.

The TameFlow approach “…starts from where you are, and then evolves from there.”.

What does that mean?

In other places I have read about and also tried out one element of what is referred to as “lean” - which is to make existing processes used to e.g. satisfy customer needs clear (visualizing and describing the process steps).

How might this relate to the TameFlow approach?