A River Runs Through IT

The technology value stream is often viewed within the context of development and Agile riverenvironments, but with the help of a book or two (or a dozen) I’ve recently begun to think about it in terms of operations and infrastructure. When you analogise the term to the Thames, Seine, Yangtze, Mississippi or any other great river for that matter, there is always a head water, or source, and a mouth where the river eventually spills out into a wider body of water; typically an ocean.

In this example let’s assume the so-called ‘head water’ is analogous to the architecture of the platform on which a given solution runs. The ‘mouth’ is the actual deployment of the solution to the greater outside world and its consumption by its’ customers.

Like pollution that starts at the head water of a river and eventually ends up in our oceans so too do the efforts of the mismanaged, ill-organised, and self-focused teams of architecture, engineering, and operations negatively affect downstream developers and eventually the ocean of users we depend on for our very existence.

How does this happen?

More often than not its because solutions are built within silos that cohorts downstream don’t want, need, or in the worse cases, can’t work with in order to achieve success. What started off with good intention ends up becoming someone else’s blocker.

This pollution eventually manifests itself in the guise of slipped delivery times, overly complex systems which require and act of God to institute change, and perhaps worst of all outages and/or security breaches; which we all know leads to a decrease in customer satisfaction and trust and an eventual decline in either revenue or productivity. If one is lucky, it’s not catastrophic.

Does your organisation pollute its own river? Are you talking to your clients or customers on regular basis be they internal or external and establishing feedback loops?

If not, then it’s likely that you are the source of your own pollution.

Throughout the great state of Texas you will find signs along its highways and byways which simply exclaim “Don’t Mess with Texas!” A lot of people think the message the in-your-face embodiment of American bravado or that of Texas in particular. It isn’t. It’s the anti-pollution slogan.

“Don’t Mess with Technology Value Stream!”

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