The Genesis of Amplio

Amplio is based on patterns of success and failure

Amplio was created by Al Shalloway analyzing hundreds of case studies and seeing both what was present and what was missing in successful improvements in organizations. He also attended to patterns of failure. The perhaps surprising result was that there was great commonality across many different organizations even when they were in different industries.

Amplio as a job task analysis and competency model.

A job task analysis focuses on the “what” must be done. This includes how to organize people, the roles involved, actions that need to be taken, etc. However, creating a system that’s just about what must be done leads to an inflexible approach that will only work in some situations. A competency model must be integrated with it to enable the how to vary according to the situation.

Amplio reverses the preset solution to a problem and is more about discovering problems and then how to solve them.

Most successful adoptions result from seeing what problems people have and then creating a solution to solve them. Amplio incorporates both how to identify problems and how to appropriately solve them.

Amplio reverses the normal framework approach of using a theory of the creators to define a set of practices. Instead, Amplio is a distillation of practices that were useful supported by theories of Flow, Lean, and the Theory of Constraints.

Amplio is an open-system

Amplio is an open system in that anything can be added to it. It has no immutability in itself. However, results are best when people follow the principles of knowledge work that Amplio outlines. Being open is essential as any immutability tends to create echo chambers as well as not seeing solutions that are available.

“We don’t think and talk about what we see we see what we are able to think and talk about.” Edgar Schein

What you must do to be effective.

 It is difficult to estimate the level of value creation capacity that people are operating at compared to what they could be doing. But in analyzing successful adoptions and see the waste in poor ones, the expectation that improvement of a few hundred percent in actual value added capability is can be achieved.


  • Must understand who your stakeholders are, what their success criteria is, and how to create value to meet that.
  • Innovation requires understanding the customer’s problem, being aware of the customer journey, and using technology to come up with a better one.
    • This means the PO role must include the business and the technology available.
    • Teams must be evaluated on the value they are producing (or helping produce) not merely on creating features as described by the product owner.
  • Look at the customer journey.
  • Otherwise, it’s just enhancement.

How people behave

  • Be aware that people will protect how they think about themselves, that is, their identity, self-appreciation, and ego.
  • Ignoring management will cause them to disengage. “A comfort zone has less to do with control and more to do with knowledge.” Eli Goldratt.
  • Telling people to “follow until they understand” may cause resistance. It also doesn’t take advantage of their dormant knowledge.
  • People tend to optimize for themselves and their teams. HR policies often encourage this.
  • People understand concepts better when they are explicitly defined. There is always confusion if a common term is presented to be interpreted in a different manner.
  • The awareness of certain concepts often helps people make better decisions even if they have little experience with them.

How we can work together more effectively

  • Creating alignment on what to build results in less coordination of the people being involved.
  • Attend to cost in an effort to maximize the value created with the capabilities you have.
  • Lowering cost is designed to increase value to customers while increasing profit.

Management’s involvement

Almost all of the case studies where significant improvements were made were led by, not just supported by, management.

Training must be done in the workplace.

  • Learning must take place in the workplace by doing small micro-lessons, letting people try them in the workplace, and getting quick feedback on what happened. This is experiential learning with feedback
  • The fact that you learn by doing means that doing training in a classroom is ineffective.


People cannot just work the way they want to. They must maintain a degree of professionalism by abiding by good practices.

Use double-loop learning to challenge our assumptions and triple-loop learning to learn how to learn faster.


The following sets of theories are very useful. While you may still be able to be successful, not following these will make you less efficient.

  • Systems thinking a la Russ Ackoff – systems are defined by the relationships between the systems’ components and not the components themselves.
  • Christopher Alexander’s approach to design via the decomposition of the whole while maintaining the relationships between the components.
  • Basic understanding of Flow, Lean, and the Theory of Constraints and how they work well together.
    • Use ToC to identify the constraint.
    • Use value stream analysis to identify the cause of the constraint.
    • Use flow to provide insights on eliminating the constraint.
  • Use Inherent Simplicity and the factors for effective value streams to know how to select a better practice for you to use.
  • Lean and the Theory of constraints in knowledge work is different than in the physical world. While both originated in manufacturing they are not limited to manufacturing in the same way physics is not limited to apples falling on people’s heads. That’s just where it came from.
  • Multi-tasking cuts efficiency by 25%. But it is a symptom that more work is being created. Sometimes several times more.
  • We should deal with complexity by taking advantage of hat we do know. By getting quick feedback we can learn what was hidden from us with little damage.

Essential practices that aren’t commonly used.

  • Relative estimation
  • MBIs
  • Value stream management

How to start

  • Be familiar with at least one transition methodology. William Bridges and the Heath Brothers’ approaches are recommended.
  • Don’t assume small change is better. Match the degree of change to the situation and culture.

Useful Practices Not Often Seen

  • Generic value stream. This is a technique used to identify challenges in an organization faster than value stream mapping.
  • Focused solution teams are a useful value creation structure when a large team is neeeded to work on a product.