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Conflict is a constant companion in the world of product development. Adopt an architecture that converts this liability into an asset to strengthen your team and the products it delivers to market

Product development is tricky stuff. We are in the business of creating something from nothing, embedded within complex, global, collaborative enterprises. Conflict is endemic to that process. Indeed, there are those who believe that conflict is a critical attribute to the creation of great products. Count me among them.

Conflict pushes us to maximize performance

Conflict keeps our focus on the needs of our customers

Conflict forces us to examine multiple options, cut away the fat, and secure high ground

Conflict helps leadership to understand where we are, what is challenging our progress, and how they can best engage to…


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For all the lofty goals and complex requirements of an enterprise program, the battle will be won or lost around our daily management of throughput. Mistakes at that granular level can telegraph to doom the entire initiative. Indeed — those are the mistakes that always do.

Assembling the Conceptual Model

The concepts we will be discussing in this post are complex and particular. Lots of theoretical mappings. I’ll be utilizing a library of terms and diagrams to help keep us on the same page along the way. For an overview of the broader concepts, however, please give a quick skim to: https://drewharteveld.medium.com/progressive-elaboration-or-a-box-full-of-bees-ec4cdead2b0e

Two Tiers of Scope Description

I manage scope in at least two tiers: Business Functions, and Functionality Attributes

Business Functions are requirements defined within the context of the business, itself. The Big Ideas, not the details that enable those in the real world.


Enterprise Platform Integration brings unique operational challenges. Master these with balance and momentum

We in the technology program management business are expected to have broadly transferrable skills. This week may be focused on new product development, next month might be all about integrating an acquired portfolio, and next quarter gets gobbled-up with re-org of an existing business unit.

Each of these program types brings a unique mix of excitement, opportunity, and challenge. One of the most fraught program types- and often overlooked for its embedded risks — is enterprise platform integration.

For the uninitiated, enterprise platform integration consists of installing a prefabricated platform, whether it be vended or open-source, into a running business…


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Project chartering, whether handled formally or informally, is the pivotal first step to initiative success

I always begin the recurring seminars I teach at New York University’s School of Professional Studies with a model I describe as “ground zero” for projects. I draw two capital “P”s on the whiteboard, and define one as “Product” and the other as “Project”. Together, the class defines, from a shared perspective, what each of these terms means and the interplay between the two. The point of this exercise is to establish two key truths:

  1. These two concepts travel together but are not interchangeable
  2. While the Product exists in the real world, the Project is simply an organizational construct

The…


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Highly complex tech/ops solutions lend themselves to progressively elaborated business requirements. Ensure the team and leadership understands the effort and risk to fully define those, and the low efficacy of any estimates provided before that process is complete

Enterprise Agile Transformation

I have been lucky to engage in a bunch of Agile/ Digital Transformation work during recent years, and it is among the most gratifying work that I do. There is nothing quite like seeing stakeholders on both the business and technology sides tear a path straight through the labyrinth of process they have been dutifully navigating for years in order come together and pound-out solutions as one team. The term “liberating” doesn’t even capture the elation when the pistons begin firing at speed.

But Digital Transformation can also be fraught since legacy attitudes and expectations can run so deeply and…


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Successful product development demands control of many factors, of which transparency, timing, and trust are the most crucial

There is a dirty secret that we in the product development business don’t often discuss: our careers will be riddled with failure. The simple truth is that creating new things in the world, and having them adopted at a scale that moves the needle, is incredibly difficult. Success demands positive outcomes of dozens of variables, many of which are outside of our own sphere of control.

The daily toil of product development surrounds identifying these variables and acting upon them to increase the chances of positive results. …


Grooming presents opportunities and challenges in successful Agile product development

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I was indoctrinated early in the Agile movement, during a time that the methodology was not yet so universally adopted and today’s many tools didn’t yet exist. This was a time of index cards tacked to bulletin boards, around which teams actually stood for daily Stand-Ups. Our Agile was highly practical, but more provincial than the mature iterations utilized by globally distributed teams today.

In that early form of Agile, grooming played a comparably minor role. Our Agility revolved around a backlog with functionality defined in only the most skeletal fashion. While we all knew there were unknown challenges and…


Your enterprise is established, with a clear market position and secure revenue streams. But innovation comes slowly or not at all. You think you need better ideas. You’re probably wrong. The ideas are fine. The problem is that you can’t execute on those ideas in a manner that is timely, flexible, extensible, or inspired.

The factors that limit your ability to deliver aren’t endemic to the delivery itself, but rather the negative space that surrounds that delivery. They are the attributes of your product development environment: the connective tissue between the assorted functions that work together to execute on great ideas.

You can’t innovate because your product development environment simply isn’t healthy enough to support further growth and optimization. It doesn’t engender teamwork, creativity, dedication, introspection, and risk-taking. Your environment lacks adequate Operational Governance.

Operational Governance

I say “Operational Governance” and everybody does an eye roll, like I’m one more jerk from Internal Audit here to…


Deep, cloistered analysis and planning phases are robbing potency from your enterprise projects

Despite the rise of iterative product development methodologies over the past decade+, there are still many large IT organizations that operate in a completely waterfall mode. Stated reasons for this are many, including:

  1. It seems to work okay
  2. They feel they need that level of planning to efficiently engage stakeholders and partners from across their complex organizations
  3. Corporate intertia
  4. Agile is for hippies

During the initial phases of a large, complex, enterprise capital project, the work effort consists mostly of research, analysis and planning — the “Detailed Design” phase in a classic waterfall SDLC. In this phase, a chosen group…


Strategy is pivotal, but tactics are where the rubber meets the road. Utilize this simple structure to transition between the two

A recurring theme in this space is the interplay of strategy and tactics within a business context. Leap-frogging over the platitude that “one man’s strategy is another man’s tactics” let’s agree that success in business demands effective execution of both modes of operation. As Sun Tzu tells us, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”

–Sun Tzu

But how to bridge the gap?

Blown Glass

I’m a born tactician, so the hands-on, git-r-done part of…

Drew Harteveld

BUSINESS PROCESS & OPERATIONAL LEADERSHIP; I organize people, process, and tools to create scalable delivery to the market.

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