Project Vs Continuous Flow

Many years in software development, we still want to develop software increments through Project Management and sequential approaches, though we have guidance from Lean Economics (for End-to-End flow as value stream) and Agile Economics (for incremental continuous delivery). We will see in this blog Project Management perspective and why and how it is essential and how to transform a Project Management perspective to lean-agile guided ways-of-working and establish a continuous flow.


Project Based Organizations


Plan-Driven approaches have guided a Project based approach with defined steps and plan. Initially requirements were considered as fixed when starting development for better change management and focus on delivery. This type of Project approach later changed to two possible options 1) Sequential life-cycle 2) Adaptive life-cycle (as per Project Management Institute / Community). For example, the construction, manufacturing, hardware industries have given Project Management approach, and guidance for step-by-step change and development introduced rather than dynamic changes into the flow, as the change is not feasible to implement a couple of decades ago.

Projects were considered failures or unsuccessful market value though their delivery were successful on time. Because, they have not adopted and accepted requirements change.


Project Management Misunderstanding


Projects were considered successful and achieved market and timing fitment by accepting new requirements and adopting for the change.


Project Management Successful


The type mentioned above of adaptive approaches usually use an incremental value delivery through iterative development cycles and avoid full commitment to plans and open for new requirements and support of the product in the production.

Also, the Plan has to be made by highly-skilled experts taking many perspectives, simulations, risk-management into considerations. The plan thus made immutable throughout the execution. There is not much need to change the plan from the customers or general change management perspective, and the project would usually go for many years (or at least 2-5 years or more) on average. This type of long-term project approach was not applicable to the software industry, as we are trying to deliver value quickly and learn from the industry whether the solution is correct for the context and also the product features are the required features for the customers.

The essential points we learned from a plan-driven approach are

  • Material Workflow is different from Knowledge Workflow.
  • Decentralize the decisions for Knowledge Workflow and where flexibility to change is feasible.
  • Centralize decisions that are not frequent and has to be done by only certain critical people for the overall benefit of the delivery/project.
  • A continuous flow of value in small batches is a better economic decision for people, process and product/solution management.
  • Consider applying guidance from Lean Economics and Agile Economics for managing the workflow (instead of Project Management)


Lean Organization


Guidance from Lean Economics

Lean Economics with Value Stream


Guidance from Agile Economics


Agile Economics of Iterative Incremental Adaptive Delivery


So Which approach is suitable for Modern Organizations?

Project Management can become too narrowly focused when it is not utilized correctly in a broader scope as a framework and becomes silo approach when the end-to-end flow is not considered with multiple teams and scaling agile approaches (as Enterprise Agility & Business Agility) for large organizations. To overcome the project management organization limitations we need to think of Lean Organizations enabling Agile Teams and teamwork support for motivated individuals who can create continuous delivery approaches for the organizations.


Step3 Individual Growth


The advantages of Lean Organization with Agile Teams are


Lean Agile Economics



While it is tough to transition from Project Management to Continuous Flow without Leadership Initiatives & Management support, facilitation - we must work towards an organizational structure that supports the lean-agile mindset to enable lean & agile economics. We might want to utilize the Systems Thinking Model like Temenos + Agility LHM Model.

LHM Language Habits Mindset Systems Thinking Model-1


To communicate the following message to everyone to get a shared understanding needs a systems thinking model and set of approaches to change the Language through training, Habits (some habits are visible, some habits are invisible) through coaching and Mindset through a learning structure.

  • Lean Economics supports a direct reduction in Waste.
  • Agile Economics supports an incremental value delivery with Collaborative Learning and Shared understanding.
  • Both Lean and Agile supports and enables Systems Thinking in employees mindset of the organization through a Big Picture and Value-Oriented approaches.
  • Transition and Transformation is a gradual process because of the Organization structure changes and the challenges.


We need to change at a high-level like Portfolio level for Project type approaches to a continuous flow approaches (also create small batches of work instead of projects with incremental / dynamic funding and budgeting through Value-Streams - similar to Lean and SAFe® Model)

1. Portfolio Management planning & budgeting Value Streams

2. Dynamic allocation of funding with Program execution.


Changing, the Traditional Project Management approaches to the following help us to be lean & agile

1. Small batches that give full feedback through working system/software.

2. Iterative or Continuous identification of Value (through value identification exercises. Avoiding assumptions)

3. More experimentation through lean approaches guiding the entire program execution in small increments (small time-boxes).

4. Agile suggest to reduce the cycle time (development iterations by small batches and increased engineering and test first development approaches), and lean suggests the overall lead time. Increasing productivity with built-in quality practices.

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