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  • March 10, 2021 (Virtual): Making Sense of the Messy Middle: the gap between business goals and delivery teams (with Chris Shinkle)

March 10, 2021 (Virtual): Making Sense of the Messy Middle: the gap between business goals and delivery teams (with Chris Shinkle)

  • 10 Mar 2021
  • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
  • Virtual (Link will be sent)
  • 9


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In many product organizations there is a gap.  Below that gap, the work is well understood and known.  It’s been committed to delivery.  Without clarity here, things would devolve into chaos.  Agile delivery teams work well here and Agile practices guide the day to day ceremonies and activities. Above the gap, there’s strong pressure to identify the organizational goals, make promises, and meet commitments.  But, in between, in the messy middle things can get off track and go a little sideways.

Why is this a problem and how do we cross the gap?  How do go from high-level business goals to an actionable delivery strategy that works?  How do we connect business outcomes to team outputs?

Stuff at the team level will, by nature, be more prescriptive.  Do this.  Build that.  Deliver this.  Things at the business level will be too high level - presentations and spreadsheets - lacking necessary details for execution.  Somehow we have to connect these disparate worlds.

The messy middle is the arena of product managers and owners.  This is where we uncover what might work, reduce risk, and invest in visible learning.  We remove the monster hiding in the riskiest assumptions.  We connect the intangible business outcomes to tangible product outputs. We ensure work given to the delivery team can be executed well.  

In this talk, Chris will share his experiences navigating the messy middle.  He’ll explain how some simple practices can make huge differences and bring clarity to delivery teams.  He’ll share common pitfalls and how organizational culture plays a role in this space.  In the end, you’ll leave with things you can begin trying in your organization along with a better understanding of product discovery, prioritization, and dual-track agile.    


Chris is a practitioner and maker. He is a thought leader and continually initiates new ideas and continuous improvement at SEP.  His experience comes from building products with many large clients in a variety of industries: aerospace, medical, healthcare, finance, etc.  He introduced and guided SEPʼs adoption of Agile in 2004 followed by Lean and Kanban in 2007.

As SEPʼs Director of Innovation, Chris leverages many community ideas helping SEP engineers and clients delivery better products. Chris speaks at conferences across the United States promoting Agile, Lean/Kanban, Product Management, and Design Thinking. Chris was an inaugural members of Indiana's Techpoint Tech 25.  


  • 6:00pm: Welcome
  • 6:15-7:15pm: Featured Speaker
  • 7:15 -7:30 pm: Questions & Wrap-up

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