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?