Steve Tendon

Creator of TameFlow

The New TameFlow Book Published

Steve Tendon’s book Hyper–Productive Knowledge Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban has finally been published.

About the book

As much of the work performed in various industries and professions by knowledge workers is intangible, productivity has been a mystery to most business executives, managers, and team leaders. This unique reference shows how to effectively manage knowledge work, lead knowledge workers to a state of hyper­productivity, and build a hyper­productive knowledge work organization. This is accomplished by applying the TameFlow Approach to the four flows of organizational performance (information, psychology, work, and finance) to substantially improve performance of each, and create an organization capable of producing spectacular operational and financial results.

The book:

  • Reveals a number of practical methods, models, and tools to manage knowledge work, and discusses what needs to be considered from a managerial and organization perspective to develop a hyper­productive organization capable of delivering superior performance.
  • Shows how to shape the information flow between individuals and groups and build an organization’s collective intelligence, setting the foundation for the organization’s culture, values, and principles.
  • Teaches how to reach a psychological state of flow, where individuals or groups achieve high performance levels.
  • Describes how to master operational flow or the rate at which goods and services are delivered to the marketplace.
  • Explains how to maximize financial flow or the rate at which products or services are turned into positive cash flow.
  • Demonstrates, by applying the TameFlow Approach, how to overcome typical pitfalls of Scrum and Kanban, and how they can be extended with features of the Theory of Constraints to help create a hyper­productive organization.

The book is published by J. Ross Publishing, Plantation (FL), USA.

Reprinted foreword follows.

Foreword By Robert K. Wysocki, PhD, CEO EII Publications, LLC

Steve Tendon and Wolfram Müller have written a remarkable treatise: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Management: The TameFlow Perspective and Application to Scrum and Kanban. This book opens a door that leads to improved productivity, and better management practices. Successful application of the TameFlow Approach brings about what is referred to as a state of “hyper-productivity” where an organization acquires a delivery capacity that is comparable to that of competitors several times larger. A key success factor for a hyper-productive organization is the ability to adopt empirical and experimental practices, with short-term planning, incremental budgeting, rapid execution, and short feedback loops. Practical examples of the TameFlow management approach are given in, but not limited to, the field of software development. This book focuses on creating business value through knowledge-work in contemporary information-based organizations.

The first part of the book focuses on management concepts. Lead author, Steve Tendon, examines and deconstructs the conceptual foundations of a hyper-productive organization. While at Borland International, he first encountered and experienced organizational hyper-productivity. Later an independent study by AT&T Bell Laboratories revealed astounding levels of performance by one of the company’s software development teams. To this day it remains the most productive project ever documented in the field of software engineering. Reflecting on the insights gained from his experience and on the findings of the case study, Steve was inspired to devise the TameFlow management approach.

TameFlow is not a methodology in itself, but rather an approach that can be superimposed onto any preexisting value-creating management practice. As one of the key aspects of TameFlow, this idea of superimposability is very powerful. TameFlow centers around Pattern Theory, which Steve uses to analyze and deconstruct both popular and lesser-known approaches. He then remixes and combines the observed productivity patterns with his own concepts to create the conditions that generate hyper-productive levels of performance. Despite the superficial appearance, this recombination of patterns is not a mash-up of different methodologies; rather it is a more powerful configuration, due to the generative nature of patterns. This results in a cross-pollination of elements from different methodologies which enable performance improvement by several orders of magnitude.

Attaining and sustaining a hyper-productive state within an organization is a complex undertaking. Achieving hyper-productivity comes from both top-down support and bottom-up effort, but most importantly, it depends completely on the understanding and support of the leadership team. The culture of a hyper-productive organization must embrace and support an empowered worker in a creative and open environment. Any business process that constrains creativity acts to the detriment of achieving hyper-productivity. Hyper-productivity can only flow from the organization not just upon having created the conditions that support autonomy and creativity, but also staying actively committed throughout the process, with the confidence that you can make it happen.

The experience of reading this book is also an epiphany into the inner workings of complex project management. Steve dives deep into that realm, providing a well-documented research history and firmly established empirical conclusions. You will benefit most by adopting a willingness to let go of preconceived notions. By staying open and receptive to the material, the approaches and concepts presented offer better ways of working. We owe a debt to these authors for having enough insight and conviction to clearly communicate the exceptional advantages that hyper-productive organizations enjoy.

In the second part of this book, we get an in-depth understanding of how Lean, Kanban, Scrum, Theory of Constraints, and Throughput Accounting define an interdependent model at the project execution level. However the successful implementation of this model is not guaranteed unless you are willing to go the distance. As the authors point out, few companies have reached a state of hyper-productivity in even one of their lines of business, let alone across the entire organization. Hyper-productivity is a fleeting state; one that requires constant cultivation of the right conditions. Despite one’s eagerness, hyper-productivity won’t happen by next Tuesday. To create the conditions of success, continuous effort must be made to tweak and refine them as the project development unfolds.

The conversion of assumptions into knowledge is the hallmark of TameFlow. As long as a process generates knowledge or business value, it should be supported even if it contradicts conventional theories and practices. Discovery-driven planning systematically converts these assumptions into knowledge as the venture evolves. When new data are uncovered, they are incorporated into the emerging plan. Discovery-driven planning is the mantra of TameFlow.

Traditional financial management is a major impediment to a knowledge-based organization attempting to achieve hyper-productivity. Conventional budgeting processes are not only dysfunctional, but also a real barrier to business growth and value creation. One alternative is that of a short-term financing process aligned with a lightweight planning process. This is the idea behind the Incremental Funding method, a financial model that maximizes ROI in a knowledge-based organization. The Incremental Funding method, Beyond Budgeting, Cost of Delay, and Throughput Octane are some of the alternative financial models that can successfully be used with the TameFlow Approach successfully.

The whole concept of incrementally funding a knowledge-based project needs to be extended to program and portfolio management. In order to maximize ROI, funding must be aligned with the most promising efforts. Through iteration, a complex project follows an unpredictable journey whose expected business value can change, both positively or negatively. Therefore incrementally reallocating funds across the projects and programs within a portfolio is necessary in order to reduce risk.

While reading this book I also encountered for the first time the concept of the Buffer Burn Rate and the charts used to visualize it. In terms of project status and performance reporting, the Buffer Burn Rate is a great tool for communication with stakeholders. It is robust and incorporates other derivative reports like Buffer Fever Charts and Buffer Control Charts which can be used to track trends and provide early and leading signals of future problems. My ideal report is an intuitive, graphic report and those featured in this book exceed that expectation.

Understanding the nature of knowledge-work from a business and organizational perspective is critical for the success of any project. Emphasizing adherence to defined procedures over adaptability of approach is not conducive to hyper-productivity. Hyper-productive organizations favor a product focus over procedural compliance; the former supports commitment to customer satisfaction, while the latter is self-absorbed and dispersive. In a hyper-productive organization executives must let go of “command and control” habits and practice engaged participation, just as if they were a team member themselves. Creating a “Unity of Purpose” and a “Community of Trust” are the main responsibilities of the executive, as they are the major elements for generating hyper-productivity. For this reason hyper-productivity occurs more frequently when organizational units are led by enlightened leaders who become a role-model for all team-members.

TameFlow introduces concepts and principles that promote the continual transformation of an organization from one that is productive to one that is hyper-productive. Steve and Wolfram correctly point out that the project management landscape is dominated by so called “wicked problems,” that is problems for which causes can’t readily be identified. Such problems cannot be managed through deterministic processes. The only approaches that work are empirical ones. A hyper-productive organization is a double-loop learning organization (product loop, process loop) heavily invested in continuous refinement of both process and product. Continuous refinement is critical for every journey towards hyper-productivity.

After reading this book, my final reflection is that it could have been titled: “The Best Infrastructure for Delivering Business Value from Complex Projects.” The combination of Steve’s empirical work, which is solid enough to stand on it’s own, and the unique innovations of his co-author Wolfram Müeller, a thought-leader in Critical Chain Project Management, is a phenomenal contribution to management theory. The authors have done an exemplary job in communicating these principles and as a result they have truly earned my support and respect for what they have accomplished.

— Robert K. Wysocki, PhD