Needed: A Sense of Balance
This natural tension is a direct delegation of the larger "business versus technology" enterprise balancing act:
- If business (product management) solely has its way, expediency of value delivery will probably rule, and technology/product infrastructure investment will get the short stick. After all, what business owner wouldn't want to accelerate value delivery for current customers at every opportunity? When this happens, the product becomes brittle over time, and eventually it's impossible to implement major new features without major refactoring (or worse).
- If technology (product owner/team) solely has its way, the product will probably be built on sound (and the latest!) technology, without shortcuts or quality compromises, but the business value delivery may get the short stick. After all, what technologist wouldn't want to build the most extensible and reliable platform to support future customer needs? When this happens, the current pace of value delivery may lag behind that of other competitors in the marketplace, and market share will suffer (or worse).
So the best we can do is to recognize and balance these competing interests first, occasionally letting the balance tip a little this way or that (refactoring vs. new value stories) as necessary, based on the current business and solution context (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 Balanced structure.
Perhaps more importantly, this friction is both a necessary and productive facet of the enterprise, because the heat of this natural friction and its constant resource constraints produce the sparks of true innovation and creativity.
Write less codeaccomplish more!