Thursday, January 12, 2012

EA - leadership and discipline supporting a cultural shift

MIT's Ross on how enterprise architecture and IT more than ever lead to business transformation -

What I like about this is the clear identification of the:
  • cultural shift that is required
  • need for understanding through the enterprise (not just with individuals) and the identifying the limitations of the "hero" model
  • need for discipline and the natural tension that needs to exist (Cf. the town planner vs the laisez faire property developer)
  • difficulty of getting good adoption of and need for persistent coaching and a clear vision
  • need to focus on pain points that the executive are focused on (not boiling the ocean)
Cultural shift
"... we’re learning about enterprise architecture is that there’s a cultural shift that takes place in an organization, ... and that cultural shift starts with abandoning a culture of heroes and accepting a culture of discipline."

Enterprise, not just individuals using an heroic approach
"...What companies traditionally did before they started thinking about what architecture would mean, is they relied on individuals to do what seemed best ...Nobody wants to get rid of the heroes ...What we’re trying to do is adopt a culture of discipline, where there are certain things that people throughout an enterprise understand are the way things need to be done, so that we actually can operate as an enterprise, not as individuals all trying to do the best thing based on our own experience."

Natural tension
"... the architect should be able to create a very constructive tension in the organization, and that’s the tension between individuality, innovation, local responsiveness, and the need for enterprise thinking, standardization, and discipline."

Focus on pain points
"... companies who were best at adopting architecture and implementing it effectively had cost pressures. What happens when you have cost pressures is that you’re forced to make tough decisions. ...If you have all the money in the world, you’re not forced to make tough decisions. "

"... The best architects are listening very hard to who is asking for what kind of capability. When they see real demand and real leadership around certain enterprise capabilities, they focus their attention on addressing those, in the context of what they realize will be a bigger picture over time. ...They can already see the unfolding bigger picture, but there’s no management commitment yet. So they stick to the capabilities that they are confident the organization will use. That’s the way they get the momentum to build. That is more art than science and it really distinguishes the most successful architects."

Getting adoption requires persistent coaching
While the following comments are not directed at EAMS solutions I think them apropos
"... You build something that’s phenomenally good and appropriate for the business and then you just assume, that if you give them a little training, they’ll use it well. "
" ...That’s actually been a remarkable struggle for organizations. ..."
" ...there aren’t very many companies that have come anywhere close to leveraging their platforms the way they might have imagined ..."
" ... It’s harder than we thought. It requires persistent coaching. It’s not about training, but persistent coaching. It requires enormous clarity of what the organization is trying to do, and organizations change fast. Clarity is a lot harder to achieve than we think it ought to be."

When will we learn that heroic individualism is not enough
In an presentation to EA many years ago I quoted a third party who had suggested some of the the goals were: containing costs and risks, be timely, being more adaptable and customizable and the challenges included managing complexity (which requires some discipline and semantic precision) and failing methods “Today, the most common model … is based on an approach that we call ‘heroic’ ”. Some of the suggestion made at the time were: context maps for cataloging assets and knowledge; clear methods for making decisions; patterns, business/industry reference models, default infrastructural templates or frameworks; and focusing on component topologies and interactions.

This source for this is not recent - it is an old IBM Systems Journal item in 1999 discussing architecture.

I have written elsewhere on strategies for dealing with complexity (the key being semantic precision), industry reference models and patterns (which encapsulate principles, preferred technologies, standard component topologies and interactions). This item from Ross is great in identifying some of keys to successful implementation: clear vision and persistent coaching, discipline, enterprise wide approach etc.

1 comment:

  1. You gave nice post to us. Thanks for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this.
    Future Leader