Implementing the Product Model


GUESTS: Jennifer Clarke-Burke, Transformation Coach and Dan Bouchard, Transformation Coach 

DESCRIPTION: Jennifer and Dan, two Transformation Agile Coaches working at the same client, talk through how to implement the Product Model, and how it can help at an organization. 

Lisette Diamant  00:00 

Welcome to Digital Reimagined, a podcast brought to you by Apex Systems. I'm Lisette Diamant, Apex Systems' Digital Brand Manager, and I'll be your host.  On today's episode of Digital Reimagined, I'm thrilled to bring back in Dan Bouchard and Jennifer Clarke-Burke. They're two of our Agile Coaches who specialize in transformation. Dan, wonderful to have you back into our recording studio. virtual this time of course!  


Dan Bouchard  00:30 

I'm happy to be here. Not as fancy of a space as we all had in the office, but we're making it work! 


Lisette Diamant  00:37 

Absolutely. And Jennifer Clarke-Burke, wonderful to have you back in the room as well. 


Jennifer Clarke-Burke  00:42 

Yes, great to be back. I had a blast recording the first time and I'm thinking that today will be the same! 

Lisette Diamant  00:47 

Absolutely, it sure will be. So in today's episode, we're going to dive into what does success look like at the Product Model? So let's start off with that question, you know, what does success look like? 

Jennifer Clarke-Burke  00:59 

I think that success looks like a completely aligned organization, around this Product Model. And the Product Model comes piece in part with how you execute it, which also brings into some scaling models and really becoming an Agile organization. So let's say that when you have success, you've got an aligned Agile organization. And that starts from the executive all the way down to the team level, the executives are setting that strategy and deciding what has to be built, and at the team level, they understand where the organization is going, and what they need to deliver, to always bring high value to the organization. 

Dan Bouchard  01:39 

And to build off of that, we're asking what success looks like on the Product Model. But what actually is a Product Model? When I first started working with this, that was my first question. And what it really comes down to is moving away from the way organizations have done things in the past, where you have one-off projects, or a project-based thing where you have a team that comes together to make that project and then they dissipate. And you don't have stable teams, or you have team members across different teams, makes it really hard to get work done. So aligning the organization around these products, what does an organization offer to its customers? And making that clear to everyone from the top all the way down and down all the way back up, everyone knows what they're doing. And it allows for teams to be more stable allows for an Agile organization to really get off the ground. 

Jennifer Clarke-Burke  02:31 

Yeah, and keying off of that, it also allows the teams to be very innovative. Some of your best ideas are going to come at the team level. And if the team knows, if the team owns their products, and they know what their products are, it really enables them to come up with some really great solutions. 

Dan Bouchard  02:48 

Yeah, when we're coaching our product owners and our teams, the Product Owner should be giving the requirements. But actually how it gets done, that's where the real innovation of the team level comes into play. And you want to make sure you foster that. 

Lisette Diamant  03:02 

Absolutely. So Jennifer, I'd love for you to kick us off going through a couple different approaches on how to do this work. 

Jennifer Clarke-Burke  03:09 

Sure, Lisette. So I think what I've seen across multiple different companies is either using a big bang or an incremental approach on rolling something like this out. Both can be successful, both have their pros and their cons. And when you try to do the big bang approach, it's very disruptive, right? It's very disruptive to your organization. You're reorganizing your organization, you're realigning products, you're redefining products, realigning teams, roles, responsibilities. It's very disruptive. However, doing the big bang, although it takes still some time to get there, you'll end up seeing the full value quicker. But even in that approach, you're not going to get it a hundred percent comprehensive on the first time. You're going to roll something out, you're going to realize, oh, that needs to be tweaked or you concentrated on the biggest portions and then now there's some smaller portions that you need to start tweaking. When you do the incremental value, you don't get that full value at first, but you get to see incremental value quicker. And for a lot of that, it's less disruptive to the teams and to the people. And a lot of companies don't have that leeway of being able to just do big bang theory and have that totally disruptive because it will be disruption to service. It's really starting with what you have and slowly moving it towards a future vision and a different vision. In that case, you get to gain consensus from people, you get to get input from people, and the people aspect of it here is very important because it's less disruptive to them and people are afraid of change, right? And so this helps bring them along and helps them be part of the solution, helps them define part of the solution. And it also helps that at the senior level, you're seeing value quicker. So your organization is saying they need to change and they need to change it this way, you're going to want to start seeing that value quick. If you roll it out incrementally, you'll see that quicker. And then you can measure it, you can course correct as you're seeing the value or where you're not seeing value, but it's very important that the management level, senior level sees this value quick. 

Dan Bouchard  05:08 

One other point to make in the big bang approach is, it also takes longer to plan. You have to decide on all the roles and responsibilities, what all the teams look like, what all the products are and what every single detail- if you're going to reorganize your entire organization, it's a big cost in getting that rolling, nevermind the actual impact. While if you do an incremental approach, you're able to just focus on, okay, over the next month, we're going to be focusing on this part of the organization and reorganizing these teams or reorganizing these product owners, or training up the business to bring requirements to the technology department, IT, or to the scrum teams, so that they're more Agile requirements, and they can work with the product owners easier. And you can make those incremental changes that way, without all that planning. You can do Agile planning this way. 

Lisette Diamant  06:05 

Sure, I think those are some really tangible points you've both made. I'd love to dive a little bit more into the how, how do you craft the solution when you look at project versus product teams, and kind of looking at those two different approaches. 


Dan Bouchard  06:23 

So I mentioned this earlier, that it's best to start with your problem statements, what's actually hurting the organization. Obviously, if you are a coach on a team, you might see some problems. And you might think to yourself, we need to go to a Product Model, or somebody in the organization might have came to you and said, we need to go to a Product Model. And the first thing that you should do is figure out why. Why is, what is the root cause of these problems? What's causing you pain? Because from there, then you can start getting the right people in the room. Because you need to get buy in, you need to get buy in from a lot of people, right? So you need to create a change team to actually get that product together. And I know Jennifer, you have a lot of experience with getting those teams up and running, right? Anything you want to add to that? 

Jennifer Clarke-Burke  07:16 

You're absolutely right Dan. You know, we have to start with what problem are you trying to solve? Also who you're trying to solve it for? How're you going to measure success? All these fundamental questions, you have to answer in the upfront, because then it gives you that strategy, that vision of where you're going. What value are you trying to get out of the model? Is it excellent customer service? Is it to be the most trusted partner? You know, what is that vision statement? What are those values that you want to achieve as a Product Model? And as we continue to define the products, we always have that to look back to, we always have that as your navigation your lighthouse, so to say, how to navigate towards this. Always keeping in mind that that is the vision you're trying to go to. 

Lisette Diamant  07:58 

So tying into last week's episode on the Executive Action Team. You know, I know we've talked about having a change team being truly formed for this work. And for these efforts to have success in the Product Model. How have you found success in really steering an Executive Action Team into this work to ensure that the upper level management is really aligned with this change? 


Jennifer Clarke-Burke  08:22 

So that ties really back to having the right people in the room. And definitely, there's a lot of value in having an executive action team. You've got your core team, and the core team is working to really try to come up with your Product Model and what the future vision is, and what your products are. And sometimes they're going to hit those roadblocks, right? And so having an executive action team to resolve some of the roadblocks to, maybe if you don't have the right people in the room, to pull the right people in the room for you. Having that executive action team to set the strategy. And then another piece of this executive action team is if you have their buy in, then they can also clear the path. This work takes time. You need them to set this as the priority, like in any work, right? You have got to set your priorities, right. And so they're backing this and they're saying, "this is the priority for the organization." Then the core team can really kind of free up, find that time, and help move the model forward. 

Dan Bouchard  09:16 

Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head, Jennifer. Just being able to have the executive action team being able to champion changes, right? So the core team being able to put forth not just the Product Model, but also the plan of attack, how actually you're going to execute on it, what things to do first and getting the buy in from the executive action team to make sure those changes are smoother, are successful, or can actually happen, is incredibly important. 


Lisette Diamant  09:42 

We've talked about so much on this episode, enriching on the Product Model. I know we could certainly continue the conversations for several more episodes, but I'd love to leave our listeners with one closing thought Dan, what is one closing thought that you'd like to leave our listeners with? 


Dan Bouchard  09:57 

So as you come up with your Product Model, just get started with the actual delivery. Just iterate, you have to you have to iterate, you have to go from where you are right now to where you're going to be, you have to start somewhere. And if you just keep on getting into workshops and getting into meetings and keep on trying to define that Product Model like perfection, you're never going to actually bring value, because you're just going to keep on planning and you're not going to keep on doing so start doing. 

Lisette Diamant  10:25 

So Jennifer, do you have a closing thought? First? I'd love for you to leave one as well. 

Jennifer Clarke-Burke  10:28 

Yeah. And actually, Dan took the thought right out of my mouth. So I'll have to go with it with another one, which is really start with your problems, start with your problems, what is it you're trying to solve for? And make sure that you come up with your vision? And then that your model is always going to bring your vision to life? 


Lisette Diamant  10:47 

Absolutely. Absolutely. I love how aligned you are that you're both thinking the same closing thoughts to just do it. We've been working 


Dan Bouchard  10:54 

together so closely that we just have the same answers now. 

Lisette Diamant  10:59 

Well, wonderful having you both here. Thank you so much for taking the time to record with us. great having you back. Jennifer. Thank you. 

Jennifer Clarke-Burke  11:06 

Thank you. I really had a lot of fun, and actually doing it as virtually versus in person has been just as fun.  

Lisette Diamant  11:13 

Good. Good. And Dan, great to have you back in as well. 

Dan Bouchard  11:16 

Yeah, this was super fun. Love to be here.  

Lisette Diamant  11:18 

Awesome. Thank you so much for tuning in today's episode of Digital Reimagined on the Product Model.   

Digital Reimagined is a podcast brought to you by Apex Systems, produced by Taylor Hawkins. The music you heard was Do Ba Do by Otis Galloway.