January 2, 2008

Change Management and Enterprise Architecture

Change denotes the transition that occurs between one state to another…[There are two primary] “cultural attitudes towards change [either]:

  • Change is random, lacking determinism or teleology, [or]

  • Change is cyclical, and one expects circumstances to recur. This concept, often seen as related to Eastern world views such as Hinduism or Buddhism, nevertheless had great popularity in Europe in the Middle ages, and often appears in depictions of The Wheel of Fortune.
Change [does]...require organisms and organizations to adapt. Changes in society have been observed through slow, gradual modifications in mindsets and beliefs as well as through dramatic action (see revolutions). History is one of the tools used to document change.” (Wikipedia)

In the book, Making Change Happen, by Matejka and Murphy, the authors show how the United States is well suited to handle change, but also why we must be vigilant not to let our prosperity lead us into a lull.
“Since its birth as a nation, the United States has consistently been on the cutting edge of change. Why? Immigration, invention, and the belief in a better tomorrow…[we] have created the most diverse nation on the face of planet Earth…immigration has led to the invention. Each group brings different values, cultures, ideas, and prospectuses and is motivated to achieve the American dream. [Finally,] our belief in possibilities—a better tomorrow—has further stimulated change. This belief in what could be is an optimistic, creative approach to life itself.”
Ultimately, in our diversity lies our strength!
So what’s the issue?

“Evan a country such as the United States, generally more comfortable with change than other nations, has occasionally seen its collective organizations caught off-guard, dwelling in the past, asleep at the switch!”
Here’s one telling example:

“…a former member of the board of directors of Motorola (the leader in the cell phone industry at the time). At one board meeting, a board member walked in holding a small cell phone and exclaimed, ‘who the heck is No-ki-a and where are they? Sounds Japanese!’ When told that Nokia was a new competitor, located in Finland, the board member remarked, ‘Finland? How can that be? There’s nothing in Finland but ice and snow!’”

This is the new marketplace, “where firms you never heard of, from places you aren’t familiar with, can suddenly appear on your radar screens one day and steal your competitive advantage the next.”
So from a User-centric enterprise architecture perspective, there are two major imperatives here:

  • Information is key to survival—“The way to stay afloat now is to go into a ‘heads up, sensing, searching, sorting anticipating, adjusting, survival mode.’ Pay attention! Scan the environment. Gather information quickly and process it even faster. Your life depends on it. As external changes accelerate and competitive advantages shift, leading change becomes an organizational imperative.”
  • There must be an imperative to change—“The true paradox of ‘success and change.’…We must learn to change when we are performing successfully. But success makes us cocky and content. Change is the antithesis of the much-loved maxim ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ First organizations must be willing to change. But willingness depends on the belief that a change is necessary and that the proposal is the right change.” What makes change even more difficult is that strategic change is the enemy of short term efficiency (and profits).

In enterprise architecture, the architects are the change agents and the architecture is the roadmap for strategic change. The EA provides the information for the organization on internal and external factors that enable it to understand the nature, intensity, and impact of the oncoming change, and to take action to adapt, transform, survive, and even thrive. Further, EA is often maligned for shaking things up and there is often significant resistance to EA and change efforts; however, EA is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing, which is helping the organization change strategically, even when things are going well, and where operational efficiency may possibly ‘suffer’ somewhat. Strategic change is for the long term survival of the organization and this needs ongoing care and feeding to be successful, and not just an adrenaline shot when the heart of the organization is already in cardiac arrest.

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