April 17, 2008

Don’t Get Put Out To Pasture and Enterprise Architecture

When an organization and its people don’t meet the needs of their users, they are sidelined; users will get their needs met elsewhere. It’s the nature of competition and the free market. And as enterprise architects, we need to make sure that our organizations are always meeting our users’ needs. The target architecture must reflect changing consumer tastes, needs, desires, and requirements.

The Wall Street Journal, 29-30 March 2008, reports that in India, milkmen, who used to be respected and productive civil services, have been put “out to pasture.”

In Mumbai, 300 milk delivery drivers show up for work each day, only to sit idle for their eight hour shifts—they read, nap, or play cards or sudoku. “The state government lost its monopoly on milk and consumer tastes changed. But because Indian work rules strictly protect government workers from layoffs,” the workers remain in a perpetual state of limbo.

In 2001, “private careers with higher quality milk swiftly won customers [away from the government dairy] by delivering milk to doorsteps [instead of to curbside milk stalls like the government milkmen did].”

Once the customer got the taste of the better milk and more convenient delivery, they “swiftly deserted.” The bar had been raised and now the consumers wanted, no demanded, the better product and service.

In the past, milkmen “lived in government housing near work, retired with a pension and often passed their jobs to their sons. ‘We enjoyed doing our work because it was a public service. Time flew by.”

But the government milkmen don’t meet the consumers’ needs anymore and now “most of the deliverymen, plus around 4,000 other dairy workers statewide” are on the “surplus list.”

“The dairy used to deliver around 250,000 gallons of milk each morning. Now it sends less than a quarter of that, delivered by private carriers, since the milk trucks were sold.”

One milkman stated: “We want work. Just give us something to do and we will work 10 hours a day instead of eight. I really miss my truck.”

The lesson is clear for organizations and their workers: deliver exceptional products and services to your customers and meet their every realistic need or they will go elsewhere (to the competition) and you will soon be joining the Indian milkmen and missing your delivery truck.


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