Friday, May 22, 2009

A Metaphor for Flow

Kanban is concerned with flow. Flow brings a group of inter-related concerns into play. Flow isn't as readily-understood in software production as it is in other production industries. Here's a simple metaphor for flow:

Flow is like pedaling a bicycle. As long as you're pedaling, you can continue to pedal, and maybe even pedal faster.

If there's any obstruction to pedaling your bicycle, you certainly won't be able to pedal faster. You'll be pre-occupied with just getting the pedaling happening again. If the chain breaks, you certainly won't be pedaling at anything even approaching your optimum.

So much software development effort is spent trying to get the chain back on the bicycle that we're practically inured to stagnant flow and verily accept it as inevitable.

Waste is only inevitable if you throw your hands up in the air and give up on the field of study and effort that moves software as a production industry into the realm of maturity that other production industries enjoy right now.

Ampersand GT

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