Metaflow: the effective flow of operational value streams

If you’re in business for anything more than a one-hit-wonder, you may have given some thought to your next product. Albeit probably not much more than a few cursory thoughts, given the attention that you current product(s) demand of you.

Product Development And Delivery Flow

Some lucky few may have moved from the idea of economies of scale, maximising utilisation, etc., to the idea of flow. Flow of products from raw materials to finished and sold goods (or services). And flow of product ideas and new features into those products and product lines.


Fewer again may have adopted something like Prod•gnosis, where ideas for each new product or service get deliberately “developed” into a new operational value stream:


With this kind of approach, people (in the green box) who specialise in creating new operational values streams can bring their talents, expertise and continuous improvements to bear on each new operational value stream (blue boxes) they “develop” for the organisation.

Aside: The Toyota Product Development System (TPDS) works much like this, with circa 100 people co-located in a Big Room, or Obeya, for the 15 months or so that it takes Toyota to transform a new product line (vehicle) idea into a new, running operational value stream (blue box).


If we consider the whole organisation, over time, then whether we use the above approach or no, there will a whole series of operational value streams (blue boxes) starting up, operating for a time, e.g. whilst profitable, and eventually shutting down:


We might like to see our blue boxes flow into the organisation (start up), with as smooth and effective a flow as possible. This is what I call metaflow: the effective flow of operational value streams “into” an organisation.

Ultimately, I guess it depends on how much you need new products and services to flow, and how much you need the benefits that can bring you.

– Bob

Further Reading

The Principles Of Product Development Flow ~ Don Reinertsen