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About Flow

Inside Out: The Power of Clarity
About Flow
By Steve Pereira & Andrew Davis • Issue #10 • View online
When we think about flow, we divide our focus between two primary levels: Collective and Personal. When we’re thinking about value streams, we see the collective flow either enabling or hindering personal flow.

🔭 Getting clear
Collective Flow
Collective Flow Activities in a Value Stream
Collective Flow Activities in a Value Stream
When we align teams with value streams, and build systems that facilitate an effective flow of work, we can enable collective flow that maximizes the performance of a group, where each contributor is utilizing their capabilities to the fullest. Like a relay team seamlessly passing a baton in a race, each runner has a key strength placed in the flow to optimize the overall performance of the collective.
In essence, we follow two objectives:
  • Minimizing delay
  • Minimizing friction
Personal Flow
The world-famous Hungarian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was the one who actually coined the term ‘Flow State’ and mentioned it in his book “Flow: The Psychology of Happiness”. He described the mental state of flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. Time flies, the ego falls away. Every movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, and you’re performing your skill to its uttermost”.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, there are 8 key components of the Flow State:
Clear Goals – There is great inner clarity and you know what needs to be done
Strong Concentration and Focused Attention – You are completely involved in what you’re doing.
A loss of the Feeling or Self-Consciousness – A feeling of going beyond your comfort zone.
Distorted sense of Time – You lose track of time and you’re completely focused on the present moment.
Immediate Feedback – You get an immediate result on how well you’re doing.
The balance between skill level and Challenge – You know that the activity is feasible, that you have the needed skills to complete the task successfully.
Personal Control over the Situation – There’s an essential motivation and whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.
Absorption - You lose your sense of self and all of your worries and concerns drift away.
All of these components are enabled by a well-functioning value stream that marries the challenge of the work being performed with the capabilities of individuals and the team delivering.
Personal flow enables a sense of joy when the challenge you’re tackling and the skill you possess are well matched. Not too easy, not too hard. You feel a steady sense of progress through continuous feedback.
When we aim to improve personal flow, our objectives are:
  • Maximize engagement
  • Maximize performance
It’s important to consider and balance both collective and personal flow to maximize outcomes. Too much personal flow, and a team could be derailed by an individual contributor. Too much collective flow, and personal meaning and diversity could be lost in the group.
A well-architected value stream can create a high degree of collective flow that allows individuals to fall into a personal flow state. This can happen many ways; by minimizing interruptions and friction, allowing contributors to utilize their strongest skills, minimizing repetitive, boring tasks, providing feedback on performance, and so-forth. Below are 8 key components of getting into a flow state that can be enabled by a well-architected value stream.
🏅 What we're finding valuable
Is the new Agile going with the Flow?
Organizing around the value stream
Maximizing Developer Effectiveness: Organizational Effectiveness
🎢 In the flow
Flow Engineering with Steve Pereira | Software Delivery in Small Batches
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Steve Pereira & Andrew Davis

To solve big problems, we need to go back to basics. Our effectiveness depends on gaining clarity, creating value, and finding flow. Society and technology are changing quickly, but at every scale these three considerations are timeless keys to success. We look at maximizing improvement ROI, how the best teams work, and how individuals can find meaning and purpose in their work.

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