Showing posts with label Polarization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Polarization. Show all posts

August 6, 2020

We Are Comm-unity!

I saw this painted on a storefront window. 
Community, United We Stand. 

With all the polarization these days, is this still true?

Unity is literally built into Comm-unity.

Divided, we tear each other apart. 

Instead, we could accomplish so much together.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 27, 2019

Impotency of our Democracy


The U.S. democracy is severely broken. 

We are supposed to be "one out of many," but instead we are many out of one.

There is a tearing at our nation's fabric. 

Resistance.  Obstruction.  Polarization.  Gridlock.  Shutdown.  Identity Politics.  Hating on each other.  Can't get anything done. 

Legislatively we're at an impasse.

It's not just the border wall...

- No full year (let alone multi-year) budgets for all Federal agencies.

- No Healthcare Fix

- No Immigration Reform

- No Education (STEM) Improvement

- No USA Infrastructure Bill 

- We are losing our edge to a resurgent Russia and a China taking world stage militarily and economically. 

Executive Branch has its hands tied. 

Special Counsels.  Congressional Inquiries.  Judicial injunctions.  Media Lynchings.

Alone.  Thwarted.  Unable to lead or act. 

Presidential hand tied by mommy Pelosi and Daddy Schumer.

State of the Union cancelled. 

Presidency is compromised in the eyes of every national competitor and demagogue in the world. 

Without a strong leadership reestablished and permitted to act, we are running a very strong risk of losing our superpower status and becoming just another has-been nation.

Don't think it can't happen.  

The three branches of the government should be working together and helping each other to strengthen our nation's survival, prosperity, and success.

If we don't stop the madness, then we will implode and it won't be a pretty or a happy day for anyone--Democrats or Republicans. 

Last chance for E. Pluribus Unum.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 8, 2019

What Does A Government Shutdown Feel Like

So its day 18 of the Federal government shutdown. 

The first couple of weeks wasn't so bad, because it was the holidays and vacation time ("use or lose"), so I think most people didn't miss work that much. 

Also, people got paid at the end of December, since the pay cycle is on a two week lag.  

For the first part of the shutdown, there is errands to run and things to catch up on--those things that you always wish you had the time for and well now you do. 

But by now, you've already done those errands and cleaned your house and car, shinned up your shoes, and even caught up on some reading. 

Then we also have the missed payroll coming at the end of the week. For those families that are on a single income, this is particularly hard, and even where one partner is working, still your income in cut in half. 

You can't go out shopping like this!

You also can't go anywhere--like away--because you need to be available to be back at work on a day's notice--whether or not it looks like that day is ever coming or not!

Another concern for those that care about their work and getting things accomplished, is that work is like a moving train, and when there is momentum, things can get done--even at the "pace of government."  But when you come to a full stop like this for an extended period of time, then it will definitely take some time to get everyone back on board the train and for it to get moving at a decent clip again.  Let's face it, you can't just turn people on and off like a light switch--you're dealing with human beings with feelings, plans, and bills. 

Maybe the worst part about the shutdown is feeling like a pawn in the big boys and girls game of Washington Politics--even if you feel the border wall is important, which I certainly do, as federal employee, you still don't want to feel like the sacrificial lamb. 

Why Congress and the President can't compromise and give the $5 billion for the wall for something in return like immigration reform or even just give half and call it a day is really beyond my comprehension. 

Out of our $4.4 trillion a year federal budget, how does it make any sense to begrudge a couple of billion for a wall to bring order to the chaos at our southern border--can anyway say "caravan?" 

Let's face it, drug smuggling, human trafficking, dangerous gangs and terrorists, and illegal crossings have no place in a civilized country, especially the United States of America.  

At some point, our politicians seem to have lost their passion for and dedication to what's actually good for America and instead replaced it with identity politics and a sick insatiable greed for power, plain and simple. 

All sides need to be patriots and not political kingpins, and they need to give a little to get a little for the betterment of our country overall--maybe then we can move forward. 

And by the way, it would be great at some point to let us go back to work and do our jobs. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 16, 2018

My First Interfaith Event

So I attended my first interfaith event today at Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The first lady that I spoke to said that she wasn't any one religion.  

When I asked more about this, she said:
The core to all religions is Rachamim (mercy, compassion) and Ahavah (love).

Pictured above are the table seating cards that directed people to sit next to people of other religions:  Jewish, Muslim, Other. 

The event was led by the One America Movement, and the Director, Andrew Hanauer spoke very well about bridging what divides us. 

Here are some of the take-a-ways:

- We need to address the divisiveness, polarization, and conflict. 



- Remember that we are talking with other human beings and not with labels.

- Polarization is not just issues, but devolves into identity--"I hate your stupid face!"



- But we are all human beings (and children of G-d). 



- Republicans and Democrats each say that the other is 20% less human than they are. 

- We all have our own "facts":  My facts vs. Your Facts. 

- We attribute good that happens to us as being because of "us," but bad that happens to us because of "them."

- Similarly, we believe that we act out of love, but they act out of hate--and:

- We interpret threats to our viewpoints (political and otherwise), as threats to our groups and to ourselves. 

- Try to remove binary thinking (right and wrong, left and right, etc.), critique your own point of view, and share doubts


- Reconciliation:  If we can cross the divide, have open dialogue, and positive interactions with each others, and develop cross-cutting identities then we will make it easier to counter divisive narratives, solve problems, and reduce violence. 



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 5, 2018

Election Day Dead of 2018

This just seemed so perfect for election day this year. 

With the country torn asunder between left and right. 

We are the grateful dead of the U.S. of A. 

- Our political system is stymied and our representatives are only self-minded. 

The integrity of our founding fathers has vanished and last century's great national hope has languished. 

Cause the liberals hate the conservatives. 

And the conservatives hate the liberals. 

All of my folks hate all of your folks, and everyone blames the Jews.  

- The Constitution has become malarkey, and the Bill of Rights now makes people snarky. 

Polarization and they're a lyin', fake news and no one is even tryin'.

It's either my way or the highway, and everyone else can go to h*ll. 

- Throw a fit and curse your neighbor, chase the opposition to the wayward. 

Know that threats and violence are better than silence, and resistance means persistence. 

How could this have even happened, and you're all on the wrong side of history. 

- Are we making things great, and they're only about hate. 

Or are they racist deplorables, and we're the self-righteous ennobles. 

From the economy to trade wars, and from immigration to healthcare. 

Why is it that we can't listen, negotiate, compromise, and play fair. 

- I don't know why we're even having an election.

When we only want to defeat the opposition. 

Cause the Democrats hate the Republicans.

And the Republicans hate the Democrats. 

All of the Obamanicks hate the Trumpeans, and vice versa is certainly true too. 

- It's up to everyone to put the country first and stop the bickering and the hate. 

Practice patriotism and nationalism, tear down the walls so progress does not stall. 

No one is all right and no one is all wrong, instead we've got to come together and just let everyone belong. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 6, 2018

The DIVIDED States of America

Our nation is increasingly polarized with little to no tolerance of others wants, thinking, or actions. 

- First under Obama.

- Then with the election between Hillary and Trump.

- And now over Judge Kavanaugh.

The result has been some of the worst behaviors seen since the Civil War--with not only disrespect, restrictions on freedom of expression, but even threats and actual violence!

This nation is no longer the UNITED States, but much more like the DIVIDED States. 

And that just plays into our enemies hands and could lead us to eventually lose our very democracy to totalitarianism, dictatorship, and tyranny.  

So now may be a good time to review for yourself how many biases are driving your thought processes and behaviors and creating dangerous fundamentalists and extremists all around us instead of thoughtful dialogue, negotiation, and compromise. 

Here are 20 biases that may be affecting you more than you realize:

- Do you overestimate the importance of the information you have or feel good about (Anchoring,  Availability, and Choice-Supportive Biases)?

- Do you seek out and perceive information that simply validates your preconceptions (Information,
Confirmation, and Selective Perception Bias)? 

- Do you overemphasize information that is more recent or recognizable (Recency and Salience Biases)?

- Are you ignoring information that doesn't "fit your script" (Ostrich Effect/Omission and Conservatism Bias)?

- Are you tied up in the groupthink of your peers (Bandwagon Effect)?

- Do you see patterns in random events or conspiracies that don't exist (Clustering Illusion)?

- Are you overconfident in your thought process and conclusions (Overconfidence Bias)?

- Do you tend to overvalue the usefulness or success of something, but not recognize its limitations or failures (Pro-Innovation and Survivorship Bias)?

- Do you fail to take risks because you prefer certainty (Zero-Risk Bias)? 

- Does your thinking something will happen actually cause it to happen (Placebo Effect)? 

- Do you use the ends to justify the means (Outcome Bias)?

- Do you judge people by their race, class, gender, religion, sexual preferences, or national origin (Stereotyping)?

- Do you fail to recognize your own biases (Blind-Spot Bias)?

Perhaps if more people would open their minds to information and engage in genuine thinking and critical thinking, rather than a lot of fake news and hype, we would be a far better and stronger nation. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Business Insider)
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August 6, 2018

A Three-Party System

Yeah, these signs say a lot about our two-party system of government. 
"Republican: Because everyone can't be on welfare."

"Democrat: Because everyone can't be greedy."

Sort of the age old story of competing interests. 

Certainly also a good dose of Fear vs. Greed. 

And where the rich get richer and the poor get welfare.

It's good to have the 2 extremes of the political thinking spectrum, because it shows us perhaps where the middle is. 

Neither extreme is good, but rather it's a balancing act. 

We can't have more than 50% of the wealth owned by the top 1% of the people. 

And we can't have everyone on entitlements where no one is working, innovating, and producing. 

Yes of course, some people will have more than others and some people will need help. 

There needs to be motivation to "get ahead" and there must be a social safety net for when bad things happen. 

This is life.

But the to extent that we can have the most people in respectable jobs earning a reasonable (true living) wage and that there is equitable prosperity to go around for everyone--this is ideal.

Really 2-parties is not enough, because extremes tend to get more extreme--this is the momentum of polarization and politicization until the extremes tear us apart. 

Instead we need a strong centrist party (or parties)--that can not only play to, but also execute the middle of the road approach. 

It's not all or nothing, but rather compromise to a logical and reasonable solution on every issue. 

No, we don't want to get rid of ICE, and we don't want open borders. 

No we don't want entitlements that bankrupt the nation, and we don't want people down on their luck going needy. 

No, we don't want women who have been raped or incested or otherwise can't raise their children being forced to have them, and we don't want babies being murdered in the late stages of pregnancy. 

No we don't want to blow up the planet, and we don't want our enemies besting us. 

We don't want pollution in our air, water, and streets, and we don't want to strangle the economy with endless and mindless regulation. 

And on and on. 

It's high time to move to the center where common sense reigns.

It overdue to have a legitimate 3+ party system that talks real solutions to the people. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 19, 2018

Absolutely The Times Of Mashiach

So I love going to the Chabad synagogue down in Fort Lauderdale

The Downtown Jewish Center Chabad.

They are so welcoming and genuine.

Rabbi Kaplan and his wife Devorah are absolutely charming, wonderful people.

The davening is traditional and I love singing all the prayers exactly as I remember them as a child.

The speech is always relevant bringing the Torah's message to what's going now.

For example, tonight is Shavuot and the celebration of the getting of the Torah and our obligation to live up to the mission we've been given.

This is similar to the big story this week with Meghan Markle marrying into British Royalty with Prince Harry--thereby she becomes royalty.  So too the Israelites entered into a marriage contract with G-d Almighty at Sinai, and they became royalty to G-d entrusted to keep his commandments and as a "light unto the nations" to always do the right thing. 

The Rabbi is a true inspiration and today, we talked with him about living in the amazing times of Mashiach.

There is so much polarization and confusion in the world.

From people to countries looking for a guidepost--whether individuals, corrupt organizations, extremist politicians, or fascist and warring countries.

I so agree with the Rabbi that we are living in miraculous times and redemption is right around the corner.

Everything we do is an opportunity to make a kiddush Hashem and turn the tides in the war of good over evil.

Married to G-d, but in humility, we serve him and do good and help bring the world to love, peace, and Tikkun Ola m. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 3, 2017

Under The Feet Of Haters

So there is a saying in Washington, D.C....

"You know you've made it when you have your haters."

This is a very political town!

But more than that, a leader has to take a position. 

You have to stand for something. 

There are oodles of constituencies and no matter how hard you try, you will never satisfy everyone. 

Yes ideally, we always want to create a win-win situation. 

However, every give, usually has a take, since the pie isn't infinite. 

Compromise where possible, but hold your ground where necessary. 

The key is to choose a direction from your conscience and follow your moral compass and do the most good for the most people and what's right in the eyes of G-d. 

Unfortunately, some people will declare themselves your mortal enemy and try to stamp you out of existence just for being and following who you are. 

Many of us who have experienced racism, discrimination, slavery, and even genocide know this senseless hate all too well. 

Be strong of of good courage and do righteousness. 

G-d is our rock and shield. 
Psalm 27: "The L-rd is my light and salvation--whom shall I fear?  The L-rd is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid." 
So as your enemies advance to step on and try and crush you, remember that G-d will decide where their feet actually land and how they will fall. :-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 1, 2017

A Sexless Generation

Oy vey, the statistics are not good. 

Sex in America is on the decline (and no, this is not an April Fools' joke)!

Based on this who can argue with President Trump that we need to "Make America Great Again"--and that should include sexual vitality along with military might, economic competitiveness, and social justice.

In the early 1990 and 2000's , Americans had sex on average about 60 to 65 times a year.

Moreover, for married couples, who are at the high end of the sexual spectrum, this is down from 67 in 1989 to just 56 times a year now.

This is a reduction of 9 , which doesn't sound like much--however that actually comes to 14% less nookie!

And geez, that's less than once a week! :-(

What's weird is that the statistics show that Americans working longer hours and watching more pornography actually is tied to a "busier sex life."

To me the obvious answer is that people are living too much in a virtual world of loneliness and nothingness. 

And they have lost touch with each other in the real world and have become more selfish and less giving personally and sexually. 

So while some people are busy infighting and infatuated with reading and generating all the fake news these days, it seems like they are missing the real disheartening and unloving American news of the times. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 24, 2015

Top 30 Legacy Of Hope And Change

Over 7 long years, the promise of "hope and change" has given way instead to the disappointment of chaos and dysfunction.

Just some 30 examples off the top of my head...

1) Nuclear IRAN

2) Civil War SYRIA

3) Fragmented IRAQ

4) Taliban resurgent AFGHANISTAN

5) Militarization of SOUTH CHINA SEA

6) Nuclear missile NORTH KOREA

7) Terrorist State ISIS

8) Resurgent aggressive RUSSIA

9) Weaponization of SPACE

10) Streaming crisis of REFUGEES

11) Broken system for IMMIGRATION

12)
Sharply rising MURDER RATES

13) Growing and largest PRISON POPULATION

14) Rising RACISM

15) Increasing INEQUALITY

16) Worsening polarization in POLITICS

17) Poor TRANSPARENCY

18) Dysfunction in GOVERNMENT

19) Rising NATIONAL DEBT

20) Crisis in HEALTHCARE

21) Failing system of EDUCATION

22) Stalling INNOVATION

23) Growing insecurity of CYBER 

24) Infringement on PERSONAL PRIVACY

25) Falling participation in LABOR FORCE

26) Slowing ECONOMY

27) Worsening CLIMATE CHANGE

28) Shrinking affiliation with RELIGION

29) Epidemic of SUICIDE AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

30) Declining HAPPINESS

Now, one of our main hopes has to be genuine change for the better. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 8, 2014

Upside Down in D.C.

So coming downtown this week in D.C., I see this quite unhelpful posted sign. 

If you can read upside down, while rushing down a busy street with a million and one things on your mind for the day, it says, "Sidewalk Closed. Use Other Side."

Of course, the people flowing speedily down the streets in the morning, were still walking on this sidewalk, despite the construction and potential dangers. 

But in a way this reminds me of a bigger question here--is this really a sign of the times?

Today, I read in the Wall Street Journal about continued problems with Healthcare.gov--no, not related to the crashing websites, exemptions and delays, parts being overturned (such as with the contraception mandate), low enrollment (particularly after accounting for over 5 million people that lost their coverage with the new law and in effect had to sign up), but now in terms of thousands of people who signed up not getting their benefits due to continued problems with the enrollment system.

This is not just an issue for this party or that, but rather matters of government that we as a unified nation must tackle togther to grow our capabilities and competitiveness econically, militarily, and socially. 

Are the signs pointing us in the right direction and what streets should we be going down as a nation in order to succeed? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 3, 2013

Government Shutdown - On The Street

Day #3 of the Federal Government Shutdown.

I am reminded on the streets of D.C. that there are many others hurting and in need. 

Pictured here are some hardworking folks striking against "unfair labor" practices.

They're up early and are standing there ready, presumably willing, and able to work. 

At the bottom it says, "Employer refuses to bargain in good faith."

With news coming again this morning about continued failure in talks on the government budget (and debt ceiling not far behind), we are left wondering when good faith and compromise will bring 800,000 federal workers back to their jobs. 

All these people have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and jobs to perform.

I read this morning how the Federal workers are feeling like "pawns" and "marginalized" like never before.

Perhaps, we can get more done by helping people feel a level of control, valued, and with purpose?

The world is still a big and scary place with lots of dangerous actors and challenging problems.

Rather then political polarlization and indecision, we need to stand firm by a definite set of sacred national values (while compromising on the implementation details), project the strength to defend them both domestically and abroad, and stay fair, faithful, and unwaveringly united to perform our vital role in this world. 

To solve large global problems, we need to be able to show that we can manage our own house in order first. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 29, 2013

Back To The Computer Stone Age

According to Charles Kenny in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (20 June 2013), the Internet is quite a big disappointment--because it "failed to generate much in the way of economic growth."

While on one hand, the author seems to see the impact that the Internet has had--"it sparks uprisings, makes shopping easier, help people find their soul mates, and enables government to collect troves of useful data on potential terrorists;" on the other hand, he pooh-poohs all this and says it hasn't generated prosperity. 


And in a sense, don't the facts seem to support Kenny: GDP is still in the 2-3% range, labor productivity growth is even lower, and unemployment is still elevated at over 7%?


The problem is that the author is making false correlations between our economic conditions and the rise of the Internet, which already Jack Welch pronounced in 2000 as "the single most important event in the U.S. economy since the industrial revolution." 


Kenny seems to think that not only aren't there that many economic benefits to the Internet, but whatever there is we basically squander by becoming Facebook and Youtube junkies.


It's a shame that Bloomberg BusinessWeek decided to publish such a ridiculous article as its "Opening Remarks," blaming the failure of the Internet for economic challenges that have been brewing for decades--with high-levels of debt, low levels of savings, hefty entitlement programs based on empty national trust funds, the global outsourcing of our manufacturing base, elevated political polarization in Washington, and various economic jolts based on runaway technology, real estate, and commodity bubbles.


It's concerning that the author, someone with a masters in International Economics, wouldn't address, let alone mention, any of these other critical factors affecting our national economy--just the Internet! 


Kenny adds insult to injury in his diatribe, when he says that the Internet's "biggest impact" is the delivery of "a form of entertainment more addictive than watching reruns of Friends."


Maybe that's the biggest impact for him, but I think most of us could no longer live seriously without the Internet--whether in how we keep in touch, share, collaborate, inform, innovate, compute, buy and sell, and even entertain (yes, were entitled to some downtime as well). 


Maybe some would like to forget all the benefits of technology and send us back to the Stone Age before computing, but I have a feeling that not only would our economy be a lot worse than it is now, but so would we. :-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)



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October 20, 2009

“The Happiness Myth” and Enterprise Architecture


Recently, I was reminded of an interesting article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal (20 Dec 2007) that what really matters in life is not happiness, but rather peace of mind.

Generally speaking, people “are consumed by the pursuit of happiness,” and this fact is codified in our very Declaration of Independence
that states: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that are among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

However, absolute happiness is often in conflict with the "reality on the ground".

There are some of the inherent conflicts we deal with in enterprise architecture (sort of like the Murphy's Law of EA):

Here are some typical user wants (often associated with problematic architectures):
  • A baseline, target, and transition plan without their having to provide virtually any input or to collaborate whatsoever.
  • An architecture roadmap that they do not have to actually follow or execute on.
  • A platform for information sharing and access to information 24/7, but they also want to hoard “their information”, and keep it secure and private, on a need-to-know only basis, which they subjectively decide.
  • A structured IT governance process to ensure sound IT investments for the organization, but also they want leeway to conduct their own affairs, their way, in which they buy want they want, when they want, how they want, from whomever they want, with whatever founds they can scrounge up.
  • A requirements generation and management process that captures and aligns specific functional requirements all the way up to the organization’s strategic plan, mandates and legislation, but that they don't have to be bothered with identifying, articulating, or aligning.


The world of EA is filled with conflicting user demands and polarizing directions from user that want and expect to have it all. While certainly, EA wants and strives to meet all reasonable user requirements and to satisfy the user community and “make them happy,” at a point there comes the realization that you can’t (no matter how hard you try) make everyone happy all of the time.

People want it all, want it now, and often when you give them what they want, they realize that it wasn’t “really” what they had wanted anyway.

So the way ahead is to understand and take into account your user requirements, but more importantly to do the “right” thing for the organization based on best practices, common sense, and initiatives that will truly drive improved performance and mission results.

The WSJ states, “Dad told me: “life isn’t built around ‘fun.’ It’s built around peace of mind. Maybe Dad sensed the paradox of happiness: those most desperate for it run a high risk of being the last to find it. That’s because they make foolish decisions. They live disorderly lives, always chasing the high of the moment.”

In User-centric EA, we don’t “chase the high of the moment,” or look to satisfy each and every user whim, but rather we keep the course to developing sound IT planning and governance and to enhancing organizational decision-making capabilities for our end users. EA is a discipline that ultimately strives to ensure peace of mind for the enterprise through the provision of vital "insight" and "oversight" functions.


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April 25, 2009

Groups Can Help or Hurt the Decision Process…Here’s how

Generally, IT governance is based on the assumption that by vetting decisions in groups or boards—such as an Enterprise Architecture Board or Investment Review Board--we get better decisions. I for one have been an outspoken proponent for this and still am.

However, I read with great interest in the Wall Street Journal, April 25-26, an article entitled “How Group Decision End Up Wrong-Footed.”

In this article, an organizational psychologist at Stanford University, Robert Sutton states: “The best groups will be better than their best individual members”—okay, that’s right in line with our IT governance model, but then goes on to say…

and the worst groups will be worse than the worst individual.”—oh uh, that’s not good…here the IT governance model seems to backfire, when the group is dysfunctional!

Here’s the explanation:

“Committees and other groups tend either to follow the leader in a rush of conformity [here’s the herd mentality taking over] or to polarize into warring groups [here’s where the members break into oppositional stovepipes jockeying for position and turf].”

In these all too common dysfunctional group scenarios, the group does not work the way it is intended to—in which members constructively offer opinions, suggestions, explanations and discuss issues and proposals from various points of view to get a better analysis than any single person in the group could on their own.

Instead, “all too often committees don’t work well at all—resulting in a relentless short-term outlook, an inability to stick to strategic plans, a slapdash pursuit of the latest fad and a tendency to blame mistakes on somebody else.”

So how do we develop groups that work effectively?

According to Richard Larrick a psychologist at Duke University, “For committees and other boards to work well, they must be made up of people with differing perspectives and experience who are unafraid to speak their minds…they must also select and process information effectively and seek to learn from their mistakes.”

In this model, people in a group can effectively balance and complement each other, and synergistically work together to make better IT decisions for the organization.

Here are some suggestions offered by the article for effective groups:

The first is to break the group into “pro” and “con” sub-groups that can develop arguments for each side of the argument. I call this the debate team model and this offsets the tendency of groups to just follow the “leader” (loudest, pushiest, most politically savvy…) member in the room, creating the herd mentality, where anybody who disagrees is branded the naysayer or obstacles to progress. To get a good decision, we need to foster a solid debate and that occurs in an environment where people feel free to explore alternate point of view and speak their minds respectfully and constructively with non-attribution and without retaliation.

The second suggestion is to ask how and why questions to “expose any weak points in the advise.” This idea was a little surprising for me to read, since I had prior learned in leadership training that it is impolite and possibly even antagonistic to ask why and that this interrogative should be avoided, practically at all costs.

In prior blogs, I have written how enterprise architecture provides the insight for decision-making and It governance provides the oversight. So I read with interest once more, that oversight has a dual meaning: “the word can mean either scrutiny or omission.” And again it clicked…when the governance board works effectively; it “scrutinizes” investments so that the organization invests wisely. However, when the group is dysfunctional the result is “omissions” of facts, analysis, and healthy vetting and decision-making. That is why we need to make our IT governance boards safe for people to really discuss and work out issues.


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November 14, 2007

Polarization of User Demands and Enterprise Architecture

What happens when users want conflicting things from their EA programs?

Recently, as part of a discussion following an EA briefing, I received a number of interesting comments from some users.

While multiple users talked about the EA capturing some terrific EA information that is being used for IT governance and planning, the users wanted the focus of future EA to go in different directions:

  • IT Governance—on one side of the table, one user wanted to see more IT governance and standards and less IT planning (target architecture), “since target architecture should be set by the technical subject matter experts and EA was more of a policy and management function
  • IT planning—across the table, another user wanted to see more IT planning (target architecture) and less IT governance, since “target architecture is the ‘real’ architecture, and the rest was just management.”

This sparked a lot of discussion throughout the room. Someone else asked, “Well, if you could only do one of these things well, which would you choose?” And another asked, “What is your vision for the ultimate direction of the EA program?”

To me, I believe firmly that ultimate answer to these questions is that you really need both IT planning and governance to have a viable EA program.

  • IT planning without governance—is developing and maintaining the baseline, target, and transition plan without using these to influence and drive actual decision-making. The IT plans are shelfware!
  • IT governance without planning—is trying to leverage EA information to support capital planning and investment control (CPIC) and to enhance overall organization-wide decision-making without having the necessary information to support sound decisions.

So at the end of the day, with limited resources, “which would I do?” and “what is my vision?”

You have got to do both IT planning and governance. IT planning is the process and IT governance is the implementation. One without the other would be utterly meaningless.

So with limited resources, we manage expectations and progress in a phased implementation in both areas—continually building and refining the EA information base so it is increasingly relevant (IT planning), and simultaneously, creating effective governance processes to manage IT investments in new projects, products and standards (IT governance). In this way, EA practitioners make the information useful and usable.


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