Moneyball is a book (and movie - such a good soundtrack!) I come back to as a framework to approach knowledge work. In both cases, teams are facing incredible challenges with little resources, and the key to improvement is a systematic approach that delivers consistent results.

What does Moneyball have to do with Flow?

Moneyball is about engineering outcomes. The best way to improve flow is to engineer it through specific methods, models, and principles.

Key messages

  • Moneyball emphasized the value of working backwards from outcomes:  runs win games, bases deliver runs, hits and walks deliver bases, capabilities deliver hits and walks.
  • To change culture, executives must make it clear you’re either on board or on your way out. On board means action, not lip service.
    • Outcome mapping can ensure your people are really on board and what that actually means
  • To change culture, executives must be in it for the long term and be ready for challenges and learning. 
    • Hint: you can roadmap your workflow just like your products.
      • Flow Roadmaps were built for this
  • Data can provide a check and balance against gut feeling and opinions. It also gives you a competitive advantage against companies that shoot from the hip.
    • Value stream mapping is great for this, and value stream management makes it continuous
  • Beyond process, organizations must adopt continuous business experimentation, analysis, and adaptation.



  • Work backwards from desired outcomes
  • Identify undervalued assets and capabilities
  • Challenge assumptions with data
  • Study and learn from outliers


Find the right stats to track

In Moneyball it’s hits, players past home, and runs allowed

  • For flow, this looks like lead time, value-added time, work profile, defect rate and a whole list of other metrics


Measure and improve key capabilities 

Across each category that matters to your team

  • Architecture
  • Design/UX
  • Build
  • Validation/Testing
  • Feedback synthesis/Analysis

Hint: basing this on your value stream means you only have to focus on the ones linked to your biggest gaps and dependencies

  • Capability mapping is built for this


I’m not the first to talk about this - check out this excellent talk from Jonathan Alexander in 2011 


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