This post is an excerpt from The Project to Product Transformation white paper, written by Ross Clanton, Amy Walters, Jason Zubrick, Pat Birkeland, Mik Kersten, Alan Nance, and Anders Wallgren. You can download and read the white paper in its entirety here.
When thinking about transformations of any kind, it can be difficult to visualize all the factors involved. By definition, transformation is “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.”
This is especially challenging when it comes to changing individual behaviors.
As you can imagine, the difficulties in fighting the inertia of an enterprise to move from a project-based delivery model to a product-centric model can be defined with this generic definition of transformation: dramatic change. Dramatic and daunting.
To help leaders grasp the complexities and difficulties of implementing change within the enterprise, we have defined common areas of focus for categorizing those changes.
These categories are referred to in this post as Product Transformation Domains. These domains are the highest level of focus for the change and are designed to help focus your change.
Next, we will dive into each of the domains of a product transformation journey and give a simple definition to set the context for transformational change.
The Seven Domains of Product Transformation
There are seven domains of product transformation. Each domain contains unique properties that may stand alone or have interrelated dependencies to the other domains.
- Transformation Implementation: Provides guidance for getting the transformation started, driving it, and keeping it alive and well.
- Business and Technology Synchronicity: All successful transformations bring business and technology organizations closer together. This domain outlines how to tackle the problems of engagement and alignment across the organization. Additionally, it dives into approaches for effective planning and prioritization across technology and business in a product model.
- Product Taxonomy: Arguably the most difficult domain to explain because it can take on so many different forms from its inception. The Product Taxonomy domain is at the center of designing a product-centric organization.
- Workforce and Talent: Focuses on organizational size and structure, new team roles, and fixed versus variable labor. Additionally, this domain focuses on how to “level-up” employees as they move into new roles in the organization.
- Funding Model: Addresses how to change funding models to support a product-centric operating model. It is often the most difficult domain to change at the enterprise level because it crosses so many boundaries.
- Architecture: Allows the transformation to be implemented across a diverse set of tools, software, and infrastructure components used to deliver software in the organization. This domain also encompasses the concepts of value stream architecture and how organizations are taking progressive architectural decisions to deliver value faster.
- Culture and Leadership: Focuses on how to ignite your culture and engage leadership to ensure you have a successful transformation.
These seven product transformation domains contain numerous examples and learnings from those who have gone through this process and shared their learnings with us.
In order to simplify the domains even further, we have added another facet to the guidance for your transformation process. From the data we collected, interviews we conducted, and our own experiences, we noticed three distinct stages that can significantly alter the strategy and tactics applied toward the implementation.
The following section will define the three stages and how they relate to the seven product transformation domains.
The Three Stages of Product Transformation
A product transformation has multiple stages. Transformational efforts as invasive as these are organic and take on a life of their own. They require different approaches and guidance along their different stages of existence to stay healthy and maintain practicality to the enterprise.
Through our research and experience, we identified three distinct stages of life for any product transformation: incubate, scale, and optimize.
- Incubate: Incubation is the earliest stage of product transformations. This is the stage in which early adopters experiment and find other like-minded thought leaders to move the organization forward. Incubation is often found in pockets of the enterprise and may or may not apply to all domains in every organization. Incubation, as with the other two stages, can’t be defined by a timeline. Stage timelines are unique to each organization, and just as every living thing has a unique existence, so too does each of the stages within a product transformation life cycle.
- Scale: Scale is the stage in which most of the transformational change happens. Think of scale as the stage when your transformation enters its teen years and then transitions through its twenties, thirties, and forties. In this stage, your product transformation will typically be driven across most of the enterprise. Incubation built a great foundation for change, convinced the right people, and showed enough value to keep the transformation moving forward. Scale is where the ramp-up begins and the entire enterprise is mobilized and pushed to transform.
- Optimize: The optimization stage is where the enterprise takes what it learned over the scale stage and continuously improves. Often termed continuous or relentless improvement, the optimization stage continues refining the transformation through measured learnings and tighter business/technology synchronicity.
During the process of researching and interviewing for this guidance, our team found commonalities in our data. The commonalities took many forms, like keywords in interviews to recognizable sub-themes in research and experiences.
We then broke our findings down into a matrix of domains and stages. Where each domain met one of the stages, we extrapolated our findings to fit this domain/stage model. We are calling these findings indicators.
An interesting byproduct of our process was the constraint indicators we found and documented. Within each domain/stage convergence, we focused on the indicators where guidance would help to increase the velocity of transformation.
All the transformation stories we analyzed had numerous “areas and actions to avoid,” and as a result, we realized a framework used to reduce friction was necessary.
In the continuing posts in this series, we will explore each of the Seven Domains of Transformation in more detail.
- Transformation Implementation
- Business and Technology Synchronicity
- Product Taxonomy
- Workforce and Talent
- Funding Model
- Culture and Leadership
In the full white paper, The Project to Product Transformation, you will find not only the guidance indicators to create, increase, and sustain velocity, but also the negative force learnings that should help you avoid pitfalls in your transformational journey.