Can Flow be used on a project? #Agile #PMOT

I have been lucky enough to be on a large integration project lately. On this project, there are four distinct streams and they are being executed in different ways. I would consider all of them to be Agile projects, but some of the streams lean closer to Traditional to Iterations and some lean more towards pure Flow.

It got me thinking and considering if Flow can really be used on a project. Initially I was thinking that Flow wouldn’t be appropriate to use on a project. I had thought that Flow is aligned better with operational activities as opposed to a project. Typically a project is defined as an agreed upon amount of work that a person or team undertakes in accordance with an agreed upon schedule.

“A project in business and science is typically defined as a collaborative enterprise, frequently involving research or design, that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.” – Wikipedia

The main difference I see between the using Flow and more structured approaches like Iterations seems to me to be the lack of a Schedule. (Whether the schedule is high-level or detailed)

So I took off to Wikipedia to find the definition of a Plan. 🙂

“A plan is typically any diagram or list of steps with timing and resources, used to achieve an objective. See also strategy. It is commonly understood as a temporal set of intended actions through which one expects to achieve a goal.” – Wikipedia



After reviewing the definition of a Plan, I realized that I was not concerned about the use of Flow as much as I was concerned about the lack of a Plan. If a plan is “a temporal set of intended actions” then starting a project using pure Flow would be starting without a plan.

I am not proposing a Work Breakdown Structure or anything of the sort. But starting a project should require a temporal plan to allow the team to think through the activities, spot conflicts and prerequisites, and create a schedule. (at a level the team thinks is appropriate)


I think Flow does naturally have its place on very routine and repeatable processes. In can also be used on projects with great success. It does not however remove the requirement for a plan.





Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

6 thoughts on “Can Flow be used on a project? #Agile #PMOT”

    1. I like the approach but I still think you would create a high-level plan to guide phase 2 and to allow you to track how you are doing.

      Thoughts? Does that seem reasonable?


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