January 16, 2008

Change Drivers, Inhibitors, and Enterprise Architecture

There are a number of drivers and inhibitors of organizational change that are important for enterprise architects to know about and understand.

In the book Making Change Happen by Matejka and Murphy, the authors break these down as follows:

Change Drivers:

  1. External drivers (adapting to environmental shifts)
    1. Competitive pressures—globalization, emerging economies, industry consolidation or fragmentation, new entrants, shareholder value
    2. Customer expectations—changing buying behavior, global markets, rising standards, search for variety or customization, service and convenience requirements, fads
    3. Technological advancements—instant information and communication, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, and so on
    4. Social trends—demographics, immigration, employment trends, workforce diversity
    5. Economic cycles and adjustments—business cycles, currency fluctuations, labor supply and demand, political/ideological collapses
    6. Regulatory pressures—industry regulation/deregulation, intellectual property laws, tariffs, EEOC, affirmative actions, NAFTA, Americans with Disabilities Act
  2. Internal drivers (building improved internal capabilities)
    1. Strategic leadership—supplying the vision of executive management and the strategy to achieve competitive advantage
    2. Customer value—delivering to customers on the organization value proposition
    3. People and culture—people possessing the knowledge, skills, and abilities, and organizational culture determining acceptable behavior
    4. Technological infrastructure—having the proper equipment, automation, and systems
  3. Business strategy (developing competitive advantage)
    1. Dominance—“keep growing market share”
    2. Cost—“low-cost provider”
    3. Niche—“unique market segment leader”
    4. Product—“price premium through innovation”
    5. Service—“the customer is always right”

Change Inhibitors:

  1. Conflict with organizational culture
  2. Personal fears, threats, and insecurities (“what’s in it for me?”)
  3. Inadequate sponsorship
  4. Turf battles and functional silos
  5. Inadequate budget for staffing, supplies, and support

From a User-centric EA perspective, by understanding the drivers of change, architects can better develop viable targets and transition plans to address environmental shifts, build internal capabilities, and develop competitive advantage (i.e. architects know what to be on the lookout for and what types of issues they need to address). Additionally, being aware of potential change inhibitors can help architects to recognize and prioritize the potential barriers to change and develop risk mitigation strategies. Architecting change is a true talent especially when the drivers for change are everywhere and the barriers to change are potent.


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