Are you disconnected from your Core Product? Test your Distrans!

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Are you disconnected from your Core Product? Test your Distrans!

How much are you connected with the Core Product or Core Values in your company? Check your Distrans (the distance between yourself and the Core Product) with a few straightforward questions.

In my previous blog I spoke about Distrans: the number of resource layers between yourself and the company Core Product or Core Value. The resource can be someone who works closer to the Core Product. It can also be non-human, e.g. an email you wrote to get information on an issue with the Product.

The (informal) rule of thumb is that the higher your Distrans, the more your relative cost is for the organization, and the lesser your added value. My experience is that you are already mentally disconnected from the Core Product at a Distrans of 3. It means that you are spending your time on things that do not directly sell, improve, create or manage the Core Product or Core Values of the company.

Below you can find 11 questions that are indications of a high Distrans. By answering the questions you will get an indication of your Distrans level. Each question will cost you one point. If you are hesitating about the answer for a question, add +1 anyway. Anyone with a low Distrans would know the answer right away.

  • Describe the most important Core Product or Core Value of your company. Add one to your score if it takes you more than 10 seconds to come to an answer.
  • Add one to your score if 50% or more of your communications go via emails, inter-company chats, whatsapp, … or any other non-personal contact. Do mind: the time that you are in meetings does not count as a personal contact.
  • A complaint comes in about the Core Product. Can you immediately give three or more people who can help you analyze the issue? Add one to your score if you can’t.
  • Someone who has Distrans one is the person who directly works with the Core Product. Add +1 to your own score if you do not talk to someone with Distrans one on a weekly basis.
  • Add another +1 if you could not immediately think of someone with Distrans one in the previous question.
  • Add one if you are not allowed to ‘touch’ the Product. You can use a broad definition for ‘Touching’ here. For physical Products, this may be straightforward. If your Product is e.g. a helpdesk, are you allowed to just pick up the ringing phone and answer a customer yourself?
  • What did you do in the past week? Try to make a count of all the individual tasks. Now add one to your score if less than 50% of these actions were directly related to the Core Product.
  • Add another +1 if you cannot directly relate your actions to the Core Product at all. If e.g. your company sells cars and you audit tests on the cars before they are sold, your work is directly related to the Core Product. However, if you are auditing test reports for software used to automate the car production line, your Product is ‘Test Reports’ and not ‘cars’. In the latter case you would need to add one to your score.
  • You are asked what needs to be done to double the size (or volume) of the Core Product. Add +1 if you cannot immediately tell what actions are needed to make that possible.
  • Quickly sum up five selling points of the Core Product when compared to the competition. Add one to your score if it took you more than one minute.
  • List up the last five major Incidents or Problems related to the Core Product. Add one to your score if it took you more than one minute.

At this point you should have a score (which needn’t be your Distrans, don’t get me wrong) from zero to 11. Please find a completely arbitrary and made-up scoring analysis below.

I regret that I cannot make the analysis more scientific at this moment. If you feel the need to have a more accurate analysis, I invite you to find a budget with me for a larger scale research project on Distrans. Even better, please also contact me if you are interested in having this research be conducted in your company!

Score = 0

My! You ARE the Core Product.

Score from 1 to 3

You are clearly closely involved with the Core Product. You may feel that your responsibilities cause increased stress levels. After all, everything you do wrong can have a big impact on the company. Then again, rest assured that you are the person with the most pleasure in your work, and that you find better satisfaction in your work than people with higher Distrans levels.

Score from 4 to 7

You are probably at a higher management or project management level in the company. Your focus may be on the politics in the company, or on process and procedure discussions. Be aware that your decisions and actions may have little effect on the Core Product. It results in less job satisfaction, both for yourself and for the people working for you. You may even become a slowdown for the Core Product because you constantly need input from people with lower Distrans levels before making decisions.

Score from 8 to 10

Your Distrans is becoming too high. Decisions you take have the risk that they don’t directly improve the Core Product. It is likely that your decisions are based on general management or quality management principles. The positive effect on the Core Product is not clear, if at all present. In my next blog I will explain how you can lower your Distrans level, and that of the people working for you.

Score = 11

Did you know that you would have a much happier life, if you changed to another job with a lower Distrans?


2019-02-03T11:05:57+00:003 Comments

About the Author:

Jürgen is a Senior cross platform polyvalent Enterprise Architect and Project Manager with two master degrees and a PhD in Applied Sciences and Engineering and is owner of the ITIL, Prince2 and PMP/PMI certifications. Jürgen has more than 20 years experience in the most various ICT domains from Research & Development, over System Analysis and Technical Design/Architecture to Project Management for large scale projects. Able to define & realign IT processes and applications to business requirements and strategy resulting in cost savings and more efficient business processes. Jürgen is recognized for his excellent analytical, problem solving, strong communication, reporting and facilitation skills and disposes of excellent team motivation/inspiration abilities.


  1. Harley February 3, 2019 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Very interesting article, Jürgen.
    I was wondering why you put “50% or more of your communications go via emails, inter-company chats, Whatsapp, … or any other non-personal contact.” as a measure of distrans? For example, taketwo engineers, discussing a podification to a product via Whatsapp – wouldn’t that score a 1? I hear that in China people are doing sales via these kind of apps…

  2. Jurgen Van Gorp February 3, 2019 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Thanks for the response, Harley.

    No matter how much you explain over a chat session, Whatsapp, email … it does not beat the level of direct and indirect information you get when talking to someone in person. When meeting a person, much of the information you receive is non-verbal. I work with a company that owns a very expensive infrastructure for ‘face-to-face’ communication between countries and regions. It allows you to see the person you are talking with in real-time and is closest to meeting someone in person. But, the technology barrier between you and the other person still results in an unease that distracts you from the communication.

    I agree that it is possible to do sales without even seeing the other party. I do that on a near-daily basis, but it is not the same as meeting the person and touching the Product. The higher Distrans forces you to go by trust: you are buying in good faith that the product meets your expectations. It is risk based: I’m OK with buying my mobile phone online if I read all the specs, but wouldn’t accept the risk when buying a house.

    I think that most people have the same feeling when buying online, and it explains the success of online reviews and scores. People that have bought the same product, or with the same vendor, will provide the feedback that you need. Thinking of it, I would call it “decreasing Distrans by proxy”.

    I have some experience buying online, but I’m still disappointed on one transaction out of five. Zalando suffers from all the goods that are being sent back. I0 don’t think people would buy 10 pairs of shoes and bring them back for a refund a week later, if they could look the shoemaker in the eyes. Any resource level between you and that person, will increase your distrans, and consequently lower your emotional connection to the Product.

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