December 19, 2007

Social-Comparison Theory and Enterprise Architecture

We all compare ourselves to others, that’s human nature, and its part of what’s called Social-Comparison Theory.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 18 September 2007 states that “we compare ourselves to others because it can feel great,” as when we compare ourselves to higher status individuals to improve self-image by association or when we compare ourselves to others less fortunate.
Social comparison can also make us feel horrible when we feel relative deprivation compared to those who have more than us (more money, power, family, friends, social status, even better health, and so on).

While we probably can never stop comparing, we can stop being jealous (in fact, that is one of the 10 commandments). And realizing that “everyone’s got their basket’—that includes both good and bad in life as well as their own challenges and demons to confront, can make this possible.

In the work environment, the feeling of relative deprivation is lessened, when one realizes as the WSJ puts it that “company leaders aren’t [necessarily] the wizards you thought…’a boss has intellectual limitations just like we all do.’”

The WSJ gives a funny example of “when he once rushed past a secretary to speak to an executive, she tried to stop him, implying the boss was busy with important work, [and] ‘he was playing Solitare.’”

So the lesson is we are all human; no super humans out there (like they portray in the TV series Heroes).

From a User-centric EA perspective, it is important to realize as we work with leadership, subject matter experts, users, and other stakeholders inside and out the enterprise that we are all just people. And for EA to be successful in planning or governance, there must be a collaborative effort by many people to make it happen. So don't get frustrated, discouraged, angry, or jealous of others; whether you look up, down, or sideways at the people you work with (or in your private life), have confidence in their humanity and yours, and work the best you can together to make things better today than they were the prior day.

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