A low Distrans means that you are more closely connected to the Core Products and Values of your company. This article gives a few practical tips on how you can lower your Distrans and become more valuable for your organization.

Distrans is the number of resource layers between yourself and the company Core Product or Core Values. The rule of thumb is that the higher your Distrans, the more your relative cost to the organization, and the lesser your added value. The trick is therefore to have the lowest possible Distrans for the job you are doing.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no need for everyone to have a Distrans of one. It isn’t necessary that you start creating and selling the Product yourself. But, whatever you do, always keep a close relationship with the Core Product.

A low Distrans helps you to keep focus and to make the right decisions. It makes it easier to assess the impact of your actions and decisions on other people and the company values and products.

Below you can find a few techniques that can help you lowering the Distrans of yourself and the people you work with. You will notice the positive results of these simple techniques very soon. People in your team will be more motivated. They will make less operational mistakes, and will be more pro-active in reporting potential issues.

  • Tip 1: Make it a habit to regularly talk with people with Distrans one. Talk to them about their job, about what they do and why they do it. Ask them about issues and problems with the Core Product. You will learn from it, and they will appreciate the mutual respect.
    You may feel unease at this point, just thinking of you bypassing a bunch of managers and talking to their subordinates directly. It probably means that your Distrans is becoming too high already. Fear that the people on the work floor will tell you different things than their management, is an indication of a clay layer forming.
  • Tip 2: Get rid of clay layers. Clay layers easily appear in organizations with high ‘vertical’ structures. Information and decisions taken at top level need to pass too many ‘filters’ in between and do not result in actions on the work floor. Vital Core Product information and critical issues don’t reach the level where the decisions are taken, or the information is colored or pimped up.
  • Tip 3: Constantly explain the Core Product to your team members. I keep a deck that I regularly use to describe the details of the Core Product to new project team members: the what, the why, the how … Giving the presentation not only helps my team members to lower their Distrans. It also made me think more about the Core Product, lowering my own Distrans too.
  • Tip 4: Whenever possible, decrease the number of layers between yourself and the Core Product. Talking with someone directly instead of writing an email, lowers your Distrans with one. It will already be a huge improvement. Experienced Project Managers know that it is more effective to walk over and discuss a topic, rather than writing lengthy emails to discuss.
  • Tip 5: Spend time on changing or creating parts of the Product yourself. Get your hands dirty, even if it is only in an isolated sandbox environment. You will learn about the complexities and difficulties that people with Distrans one encounter in their daily job. It will help you think twice the next time you complain about things not going the way you want it. It will help you to find process improvements.
  • Tip 6: Start giving presentations about the Core Product to others: your customers, leadership team, in public events … It will force you to increase your knowledge on the Product and thus decrease your Distrans. You will be surprised about how much you are learning about the company Core Product yourself, just by explaining it to others.
  • Tip 7: Think twice about outsourcing or offshoring your organization. Make sure to only outsource the parts that are not related to your Core Business. Outsourcing your processes and putting Service Managers in between, significantly increases Distrans. The outsourcing company has less affinity with your Core Product, which increases the risk for mistakes. It also slows down decisions and adds high Distrans roles to the organization. Managing SLA’s and KPI’s by nature is a high Distrans activity.
    In opposition, good outsourcing may decrease Distrans. E.g. a sound contract for hiring cloud computing can decrease the hassle of managing your own computer farm. A new server just is another tool that you set up real quick, rather than a device for which a separate management team is needed.

Do you have other tips for decreasing Distrans and improving productivity yourself? Let other people learn from you experience. Please share them!