Hyper Productive Knowledge Work Performance 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 hyper-productivity, and build a hyper-productive 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.

“Influenced my thinking more than any other recent book”

Curt Hibbs — Chief Agile Evangelist, Boeing


Part 1: TameFlow Principles of Hyper-Productive Knowledge Work Performance

Part 1 starts by describing hyper-performing organizations and presents thought-provoking perspectives about the underlying management principles.

The book presents a historical case of hyper-performance and examines how hyper-performance is a trait that can be acquired, transferred and lost. This sets the foundation for making it possible to bring other organizations into a state of hyper-performance. The foundational patterns of Inspired Leadership, Unity of Purpose and Community of Trust are identified as critical.

“A must read!”

Vasco Duarte — Agile Coach

The first part presents a collection of thoughts about how we can bridge the empirical insight of strategic management with the empirical nature of software development, and examines what kind of management approaches allow to bring empiricism beyond the strategic level, and into the daily exercise of operational management. We will describe a number of management approaches which can contribute in some way to building hyper-productive knowledge organizations. The nature of knowledge work (as software) is examined, as well as how a parallel can be drawn between managing knowledge work and the strategy making activities of business leaders. The iterative, exploratory, adaptive, and empirical process which is at the root of strategy making, is the same as that which is used in knowledge work; therefore, senior management is at least conceptually well-equipped to manage knowledge work. The key process is a social learning process. Management’s responsibility and weaknesses in building a learning organization are highlighted. Known management approaches that help this process are examined, such as: discovery driven planning, beyond budgeting, and throughput accounting. Next, the critical roles of hyper-productive organizations are examined, through the lessons learned from open source software. Also, anti-patterns to hyper-productivity are briefly considered, such as some typical roles of Scrum. The importance of pride in workmanship, fun, and slack are highlighted; as well as practical approaches for creating shared visions at the team level, which then relate to the Unity of Purpose at the organizational level.

“Touches on many important areas of how to reach a hyper productivity state in knowledge work”

Håkan Forss — Lean/Agile Coach, Avega Group AB

The significance of logical Thinking Processes is highlighted, as well as that of Throughput Accounting. The main ideas of Constraints Management are introduced, and it is shown how selecting the appropriate financial metric can support creating a Unity of Purpose and building a Community of Trust.

Part 1 ends by presenting the importance and the power of the psychological State of Flow, and how it can be deliberately activated through Flow Triggers.

“A phenomenal contribution to management theory”

Robert K. Wysocki — PhD, CEO EII, Inc.

Part 2: Hyper-Productive Scrum and Kanban, Applying the TameFlow Perspective

Part 2 goes into practical details about how to manage operational flow through the Kanban Method and Scrum with TameFlow’s novel approach.

This part shows how there are strong ties between the Kanban Method and the Theory of Constraints. The Theory of Constraints is one of the most successful approaches for improving the performance of organizations; still, it has yet to be fully exploited in the context of knowledge work. This part of the book shows that a combination of the Kanban Method and the Theory of Constraints is actually an excellent one. On the one side, the Kanban Method provides the tools for dealing with knowledge work management. On the other side, the Theory of Constraints provides the focus — especially in terms of determining Unity of Purpose — and the leverage that will allow an organization to continuously improve towards ever higher levels of performance. Some fundamental drawbacks of common Kanban implementations are also addressed, and resolved through the application of the Theory of Constraints.

The book explains how to improve on the Kanban Method, and expands on how understanding Common Cause Variation and learning about Root Cause Analysis can instill a culture of Continuous improvement.

“Affected my perspective towards flow”

Yuval Yeret — Agile Practice Lead at Agilesparks, Author of “Holy Land Kanban”, Winner of the 2013 Brickell Key Award

Finaly the book presents how significant improvements in productivity can be achieved by starting with Scrum rather than with the Kanban Method. Here again, the Theory of Constraints is used as the catalyst that enables continuous performance improvement. Organizational change is considered from the point of view of the Theory of Constraints, and especially how it relates to the flow of work throughout a knowledge-based organization. The nature of constraints is explained, and also where and how to start an improvement initiative, going from major releases to backlogs. Execution of control becomes paramount to balancing resources against demand and achieving due-date performance, ultimately reinforcing the Community of Trust that is grown within the organization. Specific tools of the Theory of Constraints — like Drum-Buffer-Rope scheduling and Critical Chain buffer management — are described in a way that further enhances Scrum.

“One of my favorite technical textbooks”

Etienne Du Plooy — Director, TPACC

Table of Contents

A Case of Software Hyper-Productivity

The Case of Borland Quattro Pro for Windows ♦ The Most Productive Ever and Precursor to Scrum and XP ♦ Barbarians, Not Burrocrats! ♦ Organizational Culture ♦ Losing Hyper-Productivity ♦ Software Hyper-Productivity is Transferable ♦ The Borland Portfolio ♦ Possible and Transferable, but Not Duplicable ♦ Why Care? ♦ So How Do You Get There?

Shapes and Patterns of Hyper-Productivity

Natural Foce-based Social Networks (Adjacency Diagrams) ♦ The Adjacency Diagrams of Quattro Pro for Windows ♦ Interaction Grids ♦ The Interaction Grid of Quattro Pro for Windows ♦ Other Metrics ♦ Connectedness ♦ Communication Saturation ♦ Communication Intensity Ratio ♦ From Shapes to Patterns ♦ Patterns of Communication and Organization ♦ Hyper-Productive Patterns ♦ The Powerful Generative Nature of Patterns ♦ The Prevalence of Structure and Values over Process ♦ Early Signs of Scrum ♦ Scrum as Prepackaged Patterns ♦ Scrum’s Rediscovery of Patterns ♦ Scrumbuts, Blue Pills, and Red Pills ♦ Scrum Does Not Lead to Hyper-Productivity

The Nature of Knowledge Work

From Rationalism to Empiricism ♦ Uncertainty, Incompleteness, and Wegner’s Lemma ♦ Rationale for Empiricism in Knowledge Work ♦ Interactions Demand Empiricism ♦ Empiricism in Strategic Management and Architecture

Management’s Profound Understanding of Knowledge Work

Profound Understanding of the Fundamental Process ♦ The Wicked Problem of Strategy Making ♦ Coping with Wicked Problems ♦ Empiricism at the Heart of Strategy Making ♦ Capital Goods and Social Learning Processes ♦ Knowledge about Product and about Process ♦ Strategy Making, Artful Making, and Software Development

Management’s Responsibility and Learning Organization

Process Innovation and Double-Loop Learning ♦ The Executive’s Achilles’ Heel ♦ Dealing with Failure ♦ Defensive Reasoning ♦ Change Has to Start at the Top ♦ Promoting Openness and Dialogue

Discovery Driven Planning

A Latent Conflict ♦ Buy or Create Knowledge ♦ Management’s Conflict: Plan or Experiment ♦ The Discovery Driven Planning Approach ♦ A Disciplined Approach ♦ Counting the Beans Backward ♦ Tolerance for Failure ♦ Assumptions Are Constantly Checked and Rechecked

Budgets Considered Harmful

Beyond Budgeting ♦ Beyond Budgeting Is Attuned to the Empirical Approach ♦ Beyond Budgeting Supports the Noble Patterns ♦ A Note on the Lean Startup Perspective

Creating a Shared Vision at the Team Level

The Problem: True Teamwork is Difficult to Achieve in a Business Setting ♦ A Daring Solution: Jim McCarthy’s Core Protocols ♦ The Commitments and Protocols ♦ Checking In ♦ The Check In Protocol ♦ The Check Out Protocol ♦ The Pass Protocol ♦ Deciding ♦ Resolution Protocol ♦ Decision Making as the Key Team-Building Process ♦ Ecology of Ideas ♦ Protocol Check and Intention Check ♦ Aligning ♦ Envisioning ♦ Validity and Caveats

Critical Roles, Leadership, and More

The Patron Role ♦ Play by the Rules of the Game ♦ Lessons from Open Source Projects ♦ The Power and Consequences of Forkability ♦ The Power and Consequences of Community ♦ The Open Source Governance Model ♦ The Thinking Processes of the Theory of Constraints Foster Unanimity ♦ A Counterproductive Role: The Scrum Master ♦ The Solitary Programmer ♦ The Leader Is Part of the Team ♦ Pride, Fun, and Slack

The Thinking Processes

Current Reality Tree and Relevant Problem ♦ Undesirable Effects and Root Causes ♦ Span of Control and Sphere of Influence ♦ Human Factors and Change Management ♦ Categories of Legitimate Reservation ♦ Policy Constraints ♦ The Layers of Resistance

Throughput Accounting

Throughput Accounting Versus Cost Accounting ♦ Cost Accounting Is Not for Management Decisions ♦ Throughput Accounting Can Be Reconciled with Cost Accounting ♦ Throughput Accounting for Software Engineering ♦ Example: Decrease Operating Expenses by Avoiding Feature Creep ♦ Example: Decrease Investment and Operating Expense with Open Source Software ♦ Example: Increase Throughput by Targeting the Long Tail ♦ Considerations on Combining the Examples ♦ Software Production Metrics in Throughput Accounting ♦ Throughput Accounting’s Effects on Delivery ♦ Throughput Accounting’s Effects on Other Common Processes ♦ Conclusion

Herbie and Kanban

The Story of Herbie ♦ Herbie and Work in Process ♦ The Five Focusing Steps ♦ Step 1: Indentify the Constraint — “Herbie” ♦ Step 2: Exploit the Constraint — “C’mon Herbie! Speed up!” ♦ Step 3: Subordinate to the Constraint — “Everybody stays behind Herbie!” ♦ Step 4: Elevate the Constraint — “Everybody carries a piece of Herbie’s gear!” ♦ Step 5: Repeat! ♦ The Unstated Step 0 ♦ The Secret Step 6 ♦ From Stepping Stone to the Kanban Board ♦ A Philosophy of Ongoing Improvement

The Financial Metric Supporting Unity of Purpose and Community of Trust

Problem: Conflicting Metrics and Incentives ♦ Decision Making That Creates Disharmonies ♦ Solution: Adopt a System-wide Metric ♦ Problem: Focus on Flow ♦ Command-and-Control Management ♦ Cost Accounting Is a Root Cause of Command-and-Control Management ♦ A Common Goal and a Common Enenmy

The Kanban Method, Flow, and Throughput

Getting Started with Kanban ♦ The Four Founding Principles of Kanban ♦ The Six Core Practices of Kanban ♦ The Nine Values of Kanban ♦ The Kanban Lens ♦ The Three Kanban Agendas ♦ Links between the Theory of Constraints and Kanban ♦ A Little about Flow and Throughput ♦ The Consequences of Variation ♦ The Mirage of Balancing the Flow ♦ Where to Improve

Understanding the Impact of a Constraint

Choosing between Two Processes ♦ The Lean Perspective ♦ The Accounting Perspective ♦ The Constraints Management Perspective ♦ Constraints are Archimedean Levers ♦ Constraints management is Key to Throughput Performance ♦ Constraints and Service Level Agreements ♦ Constraints and Investment Decisions

The (Super–)Human Side of Flow

From Happiness to Hyper-Productivity ♦ The Mental State of Flow ♦ Flow Triggers ♦ Environmental Flow Triggers ♦ Psychological Triggers ♦ Social Triggers ♦ Creative Triggers ♦ The State of Flow and Organizational Hyper-Productivity

Challenges of Work-State Work in Process Limits

Process Management and Process Improvement in Kanban ♦ The Rationale behind Work-state WIP Limits ♦ The Positives of Work-state WIP Limits ♦ The Challenges with Work-state WIP Limits ♦ The Negatives of Work-state WIP Limits ♦ Thirteen Problems with Work-state WIP Limits ♦ Induced Instability ♦ Work-State WIP Limits Are Useful when Starting ♦ Evolutionary but Directionless Improvements ♦ Flow-time Reduction is Important ♦ Work-state WIP Limits Create Bottlenecks and Ignore the Real Constraint ♦ Bottlenecks Are Not Constraints ♦ Finding the Primary Constraint on a Kanban Board ♦ The Guidance of Flow Time ♦ What is Next?

TameFlow-Kanban: The Throughput Focused Kanban

Finding the Real Herbie ♦ The need for the Real Kanban ♦ Toyota Production System Kanban ♦ Real Kanban on a Kanban Board ♦ Drum-Buffer-Rope ♦ Drum-Buffer-Rope with Visible Replenishment Signal ♦ The Replenishment Token is the Drum Beat ♦ Capacity in the System Versus Capacity on the Constraint ♦ The Replenishment Pull Rule ♦ Buffer Signals ♦ Replenishment Signals ♦ When Murphy Surrounds Herbie ♦ Summary of TameFlow-Kanban

Understanding Common Cause Variation

Common Cause Variation ♦ The Shortcoming of Kanban ♦ Variation across the Board ♦ Common, Special, Assignable, and Chance Causes ♦ The Power of Improving with Common Causes ♦ What Is Next?

Improving While in the Flow

Minimum Marketable Releases ♦ MMRs as a WIP-Limiting Unit of Work ♦ An MMR is a Small Target-Scope Project ♦ An MMR is a Unit of Commitment ♦ An MMR Limits Work in Process ♦ Manage Risk by Varying Time, Not Scope ♦ Cutting the Backlog Does Not Cut It! ♦ Lessons from Critical Chain Project Management ♦ The Best of Two Worlds ♦ The Theory of Constraints Perspective ♦ The MMR Buffer ♦ Buffer Sizing ♦ Buffer Management, Usage and Interpretation ♦ Buffer Burn Rate ♦ Buffer Zones ♦ Buffer Charts ♦ Buffer Fever Chart ♦ Buffer Control Charts ♦ Thresholds and Signals ♦ Trends ♦ Cumulative Flow Diagrams ♦ Burn-up Chart with Buffer Zones ♦ Combining Diagrams and Charts ♦ Signal Reaction Handled by Normal Kanban Policies ♦ How to Build and Monitor an MMR Buffer ♦ Little’s Law and the Assumption of Steady/Ideal State of Flow ♦ Little’s Law and the Conditions of Maximum Sustainable Pace ♦ Advanced Buffer Management ♦ Management of Extra Work ♦ Management of Unplanned Work ♦ Slack Management and Improvement Capacity ♦ Cross-Team Collaboration ♦ Portfolio Management

Root Cause Analysis the Theory of Constraints Way

Risk Detection and Classification ♦ Reason Tracking ♦ The Example ♦ Frequency Analysis and Pareto Analysis ♦ A Note on Classical Process Improvement Initiatives ♦ A Note on Agile Retrospectives ♦ Root Cause Analysis ♦ Relevant Problem and Current Reality Tree ♦ From Reason Codes to Undesirable Effects ♦ Assumptions for Actions May Be Undesirable Effects ♦ Validating the Assumptions ♦ Validating the Cause-Effect Relationships ♦ Searching Deeper ♦ Searching Wider: Multiple Causes and Additional Causes ♦ Do Not Ignore Obvious Causes ♦ Multiple Root Causes ♦ Changing the Reality ♦ Span of Control ♦ Sphere of Influence ♦ Many Whys ♦ Injections ♦ Influence and Change ♦ Layers of Resistance and Persuasion Techniques

In Practice with Scrum

One Way to Hyper-Productivity ♦ Organizational Change Is Hard and Takes a Long Time ♦ How to Design Easy and Fast Organizational Change! ♦ Where is This Constraint? ♦ What Is The Right Order to Start? ♦ Step 1: Reliable Scrum or Reliable Kanban ♦ Step 2: TameFlow-Scrum or Drum-Buffer-Rope

Reliable Scrum and Reliable Kanban

Define a Major Release ♦ Complete the Backlog ♦ Balance Resources, Backlog, and Due Date ♦ Execution Control ♦ Reiable Scrum, the Hero for Product Owners ♦ The Portfolio Overview

From Reliable to TameFlow-Scrum

The Optimum ♦ How to Bring TameFlow-Scrum to Life? ♦ Drum-Buffer-Rope as the Steering Mechanism

From Production to Projects

Critical Chain ♦ Agile Enterprise ♦ People Business


Steve Tendon

Steve Tendon

Steve Tendon is the Managing Director of TameFlow Consulting Limited, where he helps clients create high-performance organizations and teams by applying the theories and practices described in his books. The focus of his research and work is on creating breakthrough organizational performance-innovation.

A sought-after adviser, coach, mentor, speaker and consultant. He holds a MSc. in Software Project Management from the University of Aberdeen; a Fintech Innovation/Future Commerce Certificate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Blockchain Strategy Programme Certificate from the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

Wolfram Müller

Wolfram Müller

Wolfram Mueller is principal and expert for agile multi-project management at Consileon Business Consultancy. He is dedicated to speed – either for projects or for changes. He has experience out of over 550 agile and classic projects in IT and any kind of mechanical and electronic engineering. The central theme in all is flow – how to bring organizations to a hyper-productive state. As the author of many books and a well-known speaker, he inspired quite a few companies to do more with less in a very short time. All this led to the invention of BlueDolphin – a community platform for self-organized changes based on TOC. For more details, see Blue-Dolphin.World or simply contact him vai email: