Different levels of disintermediation

Jason Yip
2 min readOct 9, 2023

Level 0: Multiple intermediaries

For example, developers talk to a business analyst who talks to a project manager who talks to a business representative who talks to customers.

Developer talking to a Business Analyst talking to a Project Manager talking to a Business Representative talking to a customer
Multiple intermediaries

Level 1: Single intermediary not accountable for outcomes

For example, developers talk to a project manager / product manager who manages requests from customers.

Developer talking to Project Manager who processes requests from several customers
Single intermediary not accountable for outcomes

Level 2: Single intermediary who is accountable for outcomes

For example, developers talk to a product manager OR business person who is accountable for outcomes. I see this as the Scrum ideal.

Developer talks to Product Manager who directly engages with customers and data
Single intermediary accountable for outcomes

Level 3: Team directly engaging with customers and data AND directly accountable for outcomes

For example, developers/engineers engage directly with customers and data. If there are product managers or analysts, they are facilitating this direct engagement, not acting as intermediaries. I see this as the Extreme Programming ideal.

Team directly engaging with customers and data. Product Manager is facilitating.
Team directly engaging with customers and data

See also

In my expression of Agile doctrine, I mentioned “reducing the distance between problems and problem-solvers”, in other words, disintermediation.

Henrik also recently mentioned this in a recent talk:

Minimize the gap! Picture of 2 intermediaries between the Maker and the User which adds to feedback delay.
Minimize the gap! slide from Henrik Kniberg’s Agile introduction talk to the
KTH Royal Institute of Technology in 2023

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Jason Yip

Senior Manager Product Engineering at Grainger. Extreme Programming, Agile, Lean guy. Ex-Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl