The TameFlow Chronologist

Genesis and Evolution of the TameFlow Approach

‘Thinking to Create Value, Bonting’ (Book by Edward De Bono) - Summary and Review

On April 8, 2016, I had the honor to meet Prof. Edward De Bono at the Customer Excellence conference in Sliema (Malta), where both of us were speaking. Yes, it was that Prof. De Bono, the father of lateral thinking and the icon of creative thinking; and author of more than 85 books.

At the end of his talk, Prof. De Bono announced his latest work Thinking to Create Value, Bonting.

I was lucky to be given an early (and autographed!) copy of the work.

This post is a summary of the book, and review of it from the perspective of TameFlow.

Since TameFlow is solidly founded on mental models and modes of thinking, I had high expectation of this book.

However, after reading it, I was left with mixed feelings. On the one side, the book truly presents interesting topics, and from an original perspective. On the other side, it appears to be a book that has been written hastily with not too much editorial attention, in particular due to an overwhelming amount of repetition; but there seems to be a reason for it.

Pattern Language Development

A pattern language is effectively constructed when the confidence of the collected patterns is assessed, and especially when interrelated patterns are cross-referenced. Technically, this happens during steps 5 and 6 in the process described in the earlier post How Patterns become a Pattern Language . While these steps are conceptually simple activities, they are the constituents of the true expressive power and notational richness of the pattern language. There are many aspects that must be taken into consideration and which are summarized hereafter.

How Patterns Become a Pattern Language

A pattern is not an invention; it is an uncovered solution, that has been observed to work for some time, in a variety of situations. Patterns are the result of empirical observations, and they can constitute a phenomenological foundation for a scientific theory ([SALINGAROS-2000]).

It is therefore of essence to have an approach that makes it possible to observe patterns on an empirical basis, in order to identify appropriate patterns, with all necessary attributes, and create an ontology, vocabulary and taxonomy of the discovered patterns; ordering and/or grouping the patterns according to scale and/or other relevant dimensions (like general-specific); documenting their interconnectedness and relationships.

Pattern Languages Are Means of Expression of Organizational Design

Our capability of thinking and our ways of “perceiving, categorizing and making meaning in the world” are shaped by the language that we use [BORODITSKY-2011]. Therefore, uncovering a new language, in the form of an organizational pattern language, would make available to practitioners a shared and commonly understood lexicon with notational accuracy that may allow to better describe, express, and reason about organizational design concepts, and even discover entirely new concepts that may be completely missing from current organizational theory.

Relevance and Applicability of Design Patterns to Organizational Design

Patterns and pattern languages have been used successfully in numerous fields. For example, in addition to architecture and software engineering that have already been mentioned, patterns and pattern languages have been used in fields such as:

Therefore it would appear that, if patterns have been useful in the above mentioned fields, with special attention to the case of organizational patterns for software productivity, then organizational design may benefit from adopting patterns (and pattern languages).

The assumption is not that improbable to make, once one considers that in the field of organizational design “giving form and shape” (to organizational structures) is the primary activity; and patterns and pattern languages excel precisely in domains where “giving form and shape” is the principal design activity.

The Connection Between Organizational Patterns for Software Development and Organizational Design

During the past 40-60 years, the fast-paced progress of information technology has propelled most advanced countries towards an information-based, networked economy [CASTELLS-2010] and [BENKLER-2006]. Conventional means of management are no longer effective, or even socially acceptable.

Management methods and organizational models are under constant evolution [BENKLER-2011]. Contemporary knowledge-based companies find ways to profitability by engaging their employees rather than controlling them; and individuals are motivated by social engagement and collaborative relationships [BENKLER-2011]. There is a challenge to describe, specify and implement an effective organizational design representing these new realities.

Design Patterns Are a Form of Knowledge

Patterns are prescientific. They are not derived from first principles as scientific theory, but from empirical observations. They can provide a phenomenological foundation on top of which scientific theories can be formulated [SALINGAROS-2000]. Patterns are an actionable representation of knowledge, yet they are not deterministic. Patterns are cognitive and capture deep understanding of recurring problems [MURRAY-2000].

Design Patterns

Alexandrian Patterns

In the context of TameFlow, the word “pattern” is used and intended in a very technical way, as an Alexandrian Pattern (a.k.a. “Alexandrine Pattern”). The canonical and most widely accepted definition of an Alexandrian Pattern is [ALEXANDER-1979]:

[A] pattern is a three-part rule, which express a relation between a certain context, a problem, and a solution.

TameFlow and PopcornFlow Foster Unity of Purpose

PopcornFlow is an inspiring way to create validated learning through continuous experimentation created by Claudio Perrone. It can also be applied successfully to strategic thinking with real options. In this post we will see how PopcornFlow can be used with TameFlow to build one of the pillars of TameFlow, namely to cultivate the Unity of Purpose pattern.

Here I assume you are familiar with PopcornFlow. (To learn more about PopcornFlow, see Claudio’s site One interesting aspect of this approach is highlighted in Claudio’s drawing:

Actionable Agile Metrics Review - Part 11

This is the final post about Dan Vacanti’s book Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability, An Introduction. In the previous installments we have summarized the topics covered in the chapter’s of the book, and highlighted how they relate to the TameFlow Approach.

The topics covered were:

  • Flow, Flow Metrics and Predictability
  • Actionable Metrics for Predictability
  • Definition of Process Boundaries
  • Cycle Time as the Key Metric
  • The importance of Little’s Law and its Assumptions
  • Cumulative Flow Diagrams
  • Conservation of Flow
  • Commitment
  • Flow Conditioning
  • Flow Debt
  • Scatterplots
  • Service Level Agreements
  • Classes of Service
  • Pull Policies
  • Slack and Excess Capacity
  • Forecasting, the Monte Carlo Method and Analytics

In this last episode we will comment about the book as a whole and draw some conclusions.