In the book Images of Organization by Gareth Morgan, the author states “Conflict arises whenever interests collide…whatever the reason, and whatever form it takes, its source rests in some perceived or real divergence of interests.”
Why does conflict occur?
Morgan continues: “People must collaborate in pursuit of a common task, yet are often pitted against each other in competition for limited resources, status, and career advancement.”
How does conflict manifest?
“The conflicting dimensions of organization are most clearly symbolized in the hierarchical organization chart, which is both a system of cooperation, in that it reflects a rational subdivision of tasks, and a career ladder up which people are motivated to climb. The fact is there are more jobs at the bottom than at the top means that competition for the top places is likely to be keen, and that in any career race there are likely to be far fewer winners than losers.”
How does User-centric EA help Manage Conflict?
Enterprise architecture is a tool for resolving organizational conflict. EA does this in a couple of major ways:
- Information Transparency: EA makes business and technical information transparent in the organization. And as they say, “information is power”, so by providing information to everyone, EA becomes a ‘great equalizer’—making information equally available to those throughout the organization. Additionally, by people having information, they can better resolve conflict through informed decision-making.
- Governance: EA provides for governance. According to Wikipedia, “governance develops and manages consistent, cohesive policies, processes and decision-rights for a given area of responsibility.” As such, governance provides a mechanism to resolve conflicts, in an orderly fashion. For example, an IT Investment Review Board and supporting EA Review Board enables a decision process for authorizing, allocating, and prioritizing new IT investments, an otherwise highly contentious area for many sponsors and stakeholders in the organization.
Conflict is inevitable; however, EA can provide both information and governance to help manage and resolve conflict.