The Rise of the Flow Master

My obsession with new ways of working never stops and I’m particularly interested cultural change – which still fascinates me in terms of initiatives like DevOps. I also think that the evolution of greater agility within organisations is reaching a pivot point as many existing methods are being extended on both sides of the software delivery process.

For instance, it’s not unusual to see Business folks/Stakeholders conducting stand-ups to shape a portfolio of work in anticipation of future capacity within Development teams.

Also, DevOps is driving a transformation on the delivery side in terms of automated deployments, Platform as a Service plus Infrastructure as a Service and through the abstraction of these underlying services within the Cloud.

So in my opinion, what one commonly calls “Agile” is morphing into an end-to-end Flow. And for me, Flow is the amalgamation of many methods/techniques but all in one place. This provides a greater role for non-IT people in the creation of software whereby all one cares about is the Flow and an obsession with avoiding wait time or unnecessary effort.

Flow principles get teams comfortable with constant change and allows for pivoting quickly, not failing fast. In fact, Tech innovation is moving so fast, that year-long initiatives can be obsolete before they are ever delivered.

Hence Flow stresses the need for incremental change to be delivered to the real world in bite size chunks and thus value can be measured incrementally and constantly.

Flow greatly benefits from modern transparency techniques (such as extreme visualization), KanBan over Scrum (due to WIP limits and Small Batch sizes with no sprint reviews or backlog grooming) and supported by DevOps with full automation to deliver functional payloads as rapidly as possible.

However, there is a catch within this vision of nirvana – which is that Flow is dependent on people. But not the usual suspects such as Analysts, Developers, Testers or Operators. The success of many major product development initiatives or projects can usually be narrowed down to one source. Usually one person, who is driven by the obsession to deliver.

Unfortunately, this major skillset has diminished within traditional delivery roles such as Project Managers and Scrum Masters, where cost & content are king and the focus on value & speed is not a priority.

However, when someone is in the driving seat, making quick decisions, pivoting quickly and delivering incrementally – success follows.

I’ve taken to calling that role a Flow Master. And whilst Flow is an amalgamation of many techniques, the Flow Master is a combination of Product Owner, Business Analyst, Project Manager and Scrum Master. But not the combination of all their responsibilities.

In fact, Flow Masters prioritise Value, Cadence, Small Batch delivery, Decision Making and Risk Taking.

In hindsight, I would say that the most successful people that I have ever worked with are in fact Flow Masters without even knowing it.


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