The Importance of the In-Between

The in-between hosts necessity but not much in the way of excitement. It is the connecting tissue between high-impact projects without which those projects could not be completed. But the in-between, as I’m calling it, is subtle in its importance and will often be forgotten in the excitement of a new project.

The in-between is not bureaucracy, though. It is the communication, the automation, the documentation and the process by which innovation thrives. And just as the in-between is easy to forget, it is easy to over-endulge. It is true, albeit unfortunate, that the in-between is doing its job when it is least noticed. If process, tooling, documentation or communication becomes a topic of conversation during a project, then something has gone wrong.

Some things to note when the connective tissue is missing or not functioning properly:

  1. Teams are unaware of why they’re doing what they’re doing
  2. Sprint planning takes a long time and stories routinely cross sprint boundaries.
  3. Handoffs are messy and frought with misunderstandings
  4. The maintenance burden after a project phase is completed is high.
  5. Regressions in the system after a project is complete are very high. That is, the cycle of a) bug reported b) bug fixed and c) bug reported again is frequent.
  6. Team morale is low and in-fighting is common-place.

Notice that these are all familiar failure modes regardless of the project. And that is because it has less to do with the project itself and more to do with the connective tissue that infuses all projects.

The health of the in-between can sink an idea as much as the idea itself.