Showing posts with label organizational culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organizational culture. Show all posts

July 31, 2019

Be Happy, Have Fun

Thought this was funny at work. 

One person writes:
Be Happy. Have Fun. 

Another chimes in:
Ok, I will!

And finally a 3rd person writes:
Me too. 
Smiley faces and all. 

Never take yourself too seriously. 

It's true--try to enjoy the ride!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

June 27, 2019

Is Beer A Color?

So thought this was an interestingly funny flip chart. 

It's titled "Colors".

And it has the typical ones you'd expect: blue, red, green, yellow, orange, purple, black, white, grey, brown, and tan. 

But thrown into the mix is beer (and Summer)--maybe these go together! 

Perhaps, someone had a little too much beer when asked about colors.

On second thought, maybe beer is a color.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

May 23, 2019

Alligator Govie

So this was a little surprising. 

In the courtyard (next to the cafeteria) at work, there is a nice seating area open during the Spring/Summer seasons. 

Pretty trees, flowers, and a pond. 

In the pond, next to the water lilies, there was a what?


Not a full alligator.

But someone put an alligator's head in to make things interesting. 

It's nice at work when people are normal and have a sense of humor. 

An Alligator Govie that's what it is. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 12, 2018

Leave The Bad Bosses Behind

So an executive colleague reminded me of something about bad bosses:
People don't leave jobs, they leave [bad] bosses.
It's very interesting and so often true. 

Of course, people leave for all sorts of reasons, but one of the most important aspects of job satisfaction for employees is their boss!

When you have a good boss--someone with integrity, good communications, trustworthy, fair, and who empowers, develops, and supports you then that goes a very long way towards positive employee engagement and retention. 

However, when the boss is a bad apple and usually everyone knows it, then there is often a mass exit out the organizational door. 

Occasionally, the organizational culture is bad too, and that attracts those bad bosses, promotes their bad behavior, and keeps their bad butts in the corner office seats--this situation is even worse because bad culture and people are mutually reinforcing. 

For the good people out there, leave the bad bosses behind and never look back. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

March 28, 2018

Technology and Human Capital--They Go Hand-In-Hand

So there are some mighty impressive places to work that really shine in terms of the technology they use and the constant desire to upgrade and improve their capabilities. 

Usually, these are also the places that value and respect their human capital because they view them as not just human pawns, but rather as strategic drivers of change. 

Then there are the places that are "so operationally focused" or just plain poorly run that they can't be bothered to think about technology much at all or the people that make up the organization and its fiber. 

In many cases, the wheel may be turning, but the hamster is dead: 

There is no real enterprise architecture to speak of. 

There are no IT strategic or operational plans. 

There are no enterprise or common solutions or platforms. 

There is no IT governance or project/portfolio management. 

Even where there are some IT projects, they go nowhere--they are notions or discussion pieces, but nothing ever rolls off the IT "assembly line."

How about buying an $800 software package to improve specific operations--that gets the thumbs down too. 

Many of these executives can't even spell t-e-c-h-n-o-l-o-g-y!

It's scary when technology is such an incredible enabler that some can't see it for what it is. 

Rather to them, technology is a distraction, a threat, a burdensome cost, or something we don't have time for.

Are they scared of technology?

Do they just not understand its criticality or capability?

Are they just plain stupid? 

Anyway, organizations need to look at their leadership and ask what are they doing not only operationally, but also in terms of technology improvement to advance the organization and its mission. 

Look to the organizations that lead technologically, as well as that treat their people well, and those are ones to ogle at and model after.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

February 12, 2018

The Culture Key To Organizational Success

As I continue to learn more about organizational success strategies, I am coming to understand that the underlying culture of the organization is so very fundamental to its success.

I believe this is especially the case in terms of three critical competency areas:

- Communication - needs to be timely, constructive, multi-directional, and with emotional intelligence.

- Trust - must be be based on honesty and integrity including consistently supporting the success of everyone professionally and as a organization. 

- Collaboration - must be be anchored in respecting, valuing, empowering, and rewarding each and every person for their views and the contributions, both individually and as team members, and in treating diversity and collaboration, as a true force-multiplier. 

If any of these elements are missing or broken then it does not seem to me that the organization will be able to be successful for the long term.

Organizational success is built on ingredients that strengthen the ties of leadership and individuals and that foster contribution as individuals and as team members. 

No amount of smart, innovative, and even hard work, in my mind, will make up for shortfalls in these critical organizational success factors. 

So when planning for organizational success, make sure to build these in from the get-go. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 14, 2017

Inspector Inspects Starbucks

This was the first time that I have ever seen an inspector in Starbucks...

See the lady in the white lab coat with hair cap and gloves...

Ah, she stands out like a saw thumb in contrast to the other staff person in the traditional green Starbucks apron. 

So I would imagine that she's not a doctor moonlighting as a barista!

She was checking here, there, and everywhere. 

At this point, she was taking out the milk and looked like she had some thermometer like device to make sure it was cold enough and not spoiled. 

Honestly, I was impressed that they have this level of quality control in the stores. 

We need more of this to ensure quality standards as well as customer service -- here and everywhere in industry and government. 

There is way too much dysfunction, inefficiencies, politics, power plays, turf battles, backstabbing, bullying, lack of accountability, unprofessionalism, fraud, waste, and abuse, and mucho organizational culture issues that need to be--must be--addressed and fast!

Can the inspector that inspects do it?

Of course, that's probably not enough--it just uncovers the defects--we still have the hard work of leadership to make things right--and not just to checklist them and say we did it.

I wonder if the Starbucks inspector will also address the annoying long lines on the other side of the counter as well? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 21, 2016

Integrity is Priority #1

So I was speaking with some leaders about what is most important to them in their organization. 

And what was fascinating to me is that they didn't describe the usual things...

- Leadership 

- Innovation 

- Emotional Intelligence

- Technical skills

And so on. 

Instead and in all seriousness, they spoke with me about integrity.

Integrity is what I call, doing the right thing, always!

And I was so impressed how these leaders understood that integrity is integral to their organizational culture, and is the cornerstone to it's ultimate success in everything else it does. 

If everyone does the right thing, then the organization will do the right thing!

In the bible, we repeatedly learn the importance of following one's moral compass. 

- In Ecclesiastes (7:1), "A good name is better than fine perfume." 

- In Proverbs (22:1), "A good name is more desired than great wealth."

And as in the photo above from a local synagogue, "A good name endures forever."

What is new here though is that a good name and the integrity it takes to build that name for yourself is not just critical to your self development, but ultimately is really congruent and even synonymous with your organization's success. 

If unfortunately some are not doing "the right thing," we need to know about it, so we can course correct.

What we do matters not only to ourselves, but to the larger organization and community that we live in. 

Good is contagious, and it inspires more good, and this is what we want to be successful. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 31, 2014

Draining Our Life Force

Here's a photo I snapped of one of the Fantastic Four (superheroes).

He's telling the evil Galactus, who drains planets of their life's energy, to "Stop!"

He yells at Galactus, "You have facilitated the Corporate Fascist Agenda long enough."

I think we all know a Galactus (or two)!

In every company and agency...there are individuals that seem to literally suck the creativity, problem solving, and life force from the bowels of the organization. 

They complain incessantly, make excuses for their lack of support and contribution, erect obstacles to progress, and needlessly put down other people's ideas and contributions.

These Galactuses facilitate their own or a corporate agenda in order to raise their stature, power, and purse.

They can be--almost G-d like figures in the organization that are feared and cowed to--but in the long term it's counterproductive to enslave humanity to them.

You can be like the Fantastic Four, who recognizes problem people and calls them out for bad behavior--you can be part of changing the culture from a BIG VILIAN negative to a SUPERHERO positive.

It starts, like in the comic--by identifying their personal agendas and bad behaviors and telling them to stop as well as by working with or around them to facilitate progress.

Galactus, you are finished! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 23, 2014

Not Just Business

This was a funny sign on the parking meter.

"All May Park. All Must Pay."

Another way of saying this is like at the dry cleaners, "No tickee, no shirtee!"

This reminded me of a conversation that I was having with some colleagues about whether individuals or organizations can be evil?

(Note: True story, but I've embellished for the sake of demonstration.)

One colleague said, "Individuals are not bad, but people in groups definitely [often] turn bad!"

Another said, "No individuals can be bad, really bad--think of Hitler and so many others who have murdered, tortured, raped, enslaved, and impoverished--it's the individuals that can and do turn an organizational culture bad."

A third person replied that, "Indeed, it can be the other way around as well, where bad organizations make or encourage it's people to do the wrong things--whether for profits, power, or punishment."

Then someone blurted out, "Well, business is business, right?" In other words, it's okay to do something wrong because everyone does it in business--that's the name of the game and what you have to do to compete and survive!

Then I said sort of annoyed at what the last person said, "Business is not business--that is our test to be G-dly, moral, and ethical in all our dealings [in our personal and professional lives]!"

Of course, we don't always succeed--no one does/we are not angels--but we have to try every time, learn and grow and become better people. 

If you do wrong, you will pay--whether in this world or the next. ;-)

July 22, 2012

Changing Organizational Fear To Firepower

Senator Chuck Grassley posted a video of the Acting Director of the ATF sternly warning employees that "if you don't find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences."

But as Senator Grassley has pointed out in the video's description--"the essence of whistle-blowing is reporting problems outside of an employees chain of command." In other words, reporting problems to external oversight authorities like Congress is an important and protected action in exposing shortcomings and addressing potentially serious issues.

The Congressional Research Service provides an overview of The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) of 1989--basically, as I understand it, WPA protects federal whistleblowers who report gross agency misconduct (e.g. mismanagement, waste, and abuse) and prohibits threatening or taking retaliatory personnel action.  Moreover, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) was introduced in 2009 to broaden the protections to, I believe, more violations except minor or inadvertent, but this has not yet been passed.  Further, the Office of Special Counsel investigates whistleblower complaints.

Unfortunately, as pointed out in The American Thinker, employees have taken the message as "a warning to keep their mouths shut," especially after agents exposed the Fast and Furious failed gun-running operation to Congress in 2011.

An agent quoted in The Washington Guardian states: "The message was unmistakable. Keep your head down and the only way you can report wrongdoing is by going to your chain of command. It was chilling, Orwellian and intimidating. What are you supposed to do if your chain of command is the one you think is involved in the wrongdoing? That was why OSC and IGs were created."

President Obama's Transition Website states more clearly how whistleblowers should be viewed and treated: “Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance.”

Whether one works in the government or the private sector, actions that are taken as bullying is problematic, not only from the perspective of morale but also in terms of productivity,  as pointed out in an article in SelfGrowth called Leadership: Are You a Bully Leader?

"Bully leadership is sharp, authoritative, angry, and feels uncomfortable to those in contact with it...the bully leader bark out orders, threatens consequences and use strong, harsh statements..." as many have clearly come away from with this video.

In a dysfunctional organization where employees are bullied and threatened, the results are devastating to employees and to the vital mission they serve:

- Stifling productivity--employees do not give their all--they "do what needs to be done and that is all. They don't go above and beyond," so productivity declines precipitously.

- Stomping out ideas--since the bully leader "needs to be the one with the great ideas," employees don't share their input--they know to keep it to themselves.

- Squashing effectiveness--bully leaders want to control everything and "lack trust in other people," the result is a negative (and perhaps even a hostile) work environment where motivation, quality, and effectiveness are decimated.

It leads me to wonder, can those who lead by fear become more inspiring figures who empower employees and engender communication, trust, and fairness?

Obviously, changing a dysfunctional organizational culture is probably one of the hardest things to do, because the most fundamental everyday norms and “values” that the organization runs on must be overhauled.

However, it can be done, if top leadership on down is sincere and committed to change. The goals should include things like effective collaboration, delegation, empowerment, and recognition and reward.

Fear and intimidation have no place in the workplace, and all employees should be valued and respected, period.

We should encourage employees to speak out sincerely when there are issues that cannot be resolved through normal channels.

In the end, the most positive change will be when we strive to build a workplace where employees can focus on serving the mission rather than worrying about being afraid.

This post shouldn’t be seen as a referendum on any one organization, but rather a way forward for all organizations that seek to raise the bar on performance and morale.

I know that the people of ATF are highly principled and committed, because I worked there (in IT, of course) and am proud to recall their tremendous efforts.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

June 25, 2011

Busting The Organizational Bunkers

There is a law in Switzerland that every citizen has to have quick access to a bomb shelter and that all new residences be outfitted with these.

According to the Wall Street Journal (25-26 June 2011), there are over 300,000 swiss bunkers with enough room "to shelter all 7.6 million citizens" and with 1 million to spare!

Yet, the Swiss continue to add 50,000 new spots a year in the bomb shelters.

Note, these are not just a proverbial hole in the wall shelter, but bomb bunkers able to withstand the "impact of a 12-megaton explosion at a distance of [only] 700 meters (765 yards)"--this is 800 times the energy discharged in the bombing of Hiroshima!

So the Swiss are very serious about sheltering themselves.

According to Swiss Info Channel, this preoccupation began in the 1960s with fear of nuclear attack and soviet invasion. Hence the slogan at the time, "Neutrality is no guarantee against radioactivity."

Despite the high cost of these shelters and the end of the Cold War, the Swiss hold dear to their shelters to protect against the variety of new dangers out there from terrorist's dirty bombs to nuclear/chemical/biological accidents, and natural disasters--and the recent events with Fukushima only served to reinforce those beliefs.

The WSJ points out, preparedness comes "second nature" to them--they popularized the Swiss pocket knife, they still have a mandatory military draft for men, and aside from the U.S. and Yemen, they have more guns per capita than anyone else out there.

I find their obsession with security fascinating, especially since they are a neutral country and haven't had a major conflict for about 200 years.

Perhaps, the Swiss as a small country surrounded by Germany, France, Italy, and Austria that were pummeled in World Wars I and II, witnessed enough bloodshed to be forever changed.

It reminds me of organizations with defective cultures, where employees see others beaten down so often and so long, they simply learn to keep their mouths shut and their heads down. They have in a sense learned to "shelter in place."

Of course, being prepared to duck when something is thrown at you is a good thing, but when you are perpetually stuck in a ducking stance, then something is wrong.

I admire the Swiss and the Israeli's propensity to prepare and survive, when they are the David's amidst the Goliath's.

However, in an organizational context, I am concerned when I see so many employees hiding in shelters, afraid to speak up and contribute, because they have been marginalized by broken organization cultures.

The organization is not the place for bunkers, it is the place for collaboration and productivity.

(All opinions my own)

(Photo Source: Facts Worth Knowing)


April 11, 2011

Optimizing Culture For Performance


Strategy + Business (Spring 2011) has an interview with Edgar Schein, the MIT sage of organizational culture.

In it, he describes why it is so hard to change this.

In my experience, organizational culture is key to success.

Why do we want to change organizational culture to begin with?

Sometimes it becomes dysfunctional and can get in the way of performance.

Sometimes, leaders think they can simply change a culture, but Schein disagrees. He says that you cannot simply introduce a new culture and tell people to follow it--"that will never work."

"Instead you have to...solve business problems by introducing new behaviors."

However, you cannot solve problems or even raise concerns where "in most organizations the norms are to punish it."

Schein states that "the people with the most authority...must make the others feel safe"--to speak up, contribute, and even make mistakes.

Schein goes on to call for people "to work with one another as equal partners"--breaking down the traditional organizational boundaries--so that we stop telling people, so to speak, that "you're in my lane" or "that's above your pay grade."

He goes a step further, stating that the healthiest work cultures are interdependent, meaning that people actively try to help one another solve problems.

What an enormously powerful idea, that everyone has something valuable to contribute. Every opinion contributes to the dialogue--and all employees are worthwhile.

That is my definition of a healthy culture, for the organization and its people.


February 11, 2011

Situational Success--You Will Have Yours

New article in Public CIO Magazine by Andy Blumenthal: Aligning Your Stars: Leadership Success Often Depends on Finding the Right Situation (February 2011)

Enjoy your weekend everyone.


September 14, 2008

The Ostrich Effect and Enterprise Architecture

From the financial and credit crisis, to soaring energy prices, job losses, foreclosures, and run-away inflation, people’s investment portfolios are looking pretty darn gloomy these days.

The Wall Street Journal, 13-14 September 2008 reports “Should you Fear the Ostrich Effect?”

What’s the ostrich effect?

“Behavioral economist George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University coined the term, ‘the ostrich effect’ to describe the way investors stick their heads in the sand during lousy markets.

Forget the letter opener when your financial statement arrives and stop looking up the value of your investment portfolio online, because “if you don’t know for sure how your portfolio did, you can always retain the hope that it somehow did better.”

This is a way for people to hide from the reality of their losses. “Turning yourself into an ostrich doesn’t make your losses go away, but it does enable you to pretend they aren’t there.” What a wonderful defense mechanism for our psyches!

Reading and thinking about this ostrich effect, I realized that it applies not only to the way people deal with financial losses, but all sorts of bad news they don’t want to hear or deal with.

I believe in Freudian terms, they call this DENIAL!

Just put your head in the sand and whatever it is you don’t want to deal with isn’t there, right?

We all know that hiding from problems doesn’t make them go away. Yet, this same phenomenon in people’s personal lives is ever present in our enterprises!

How many of the executives in your organizations follow this prescription of sticking their head in the sand when they don’t want to hear about or acknowledge problems in the workplace—competitive, technical, regulatory and so on?

Unfortunately, many of our leaders close their eyes and ears to the problems that afflict our organizations in spite of all the reports, briefings, metrics, dashboards, and subject matter experts they consult.

Why do our leaders ignore bad or challenging news?

I suppose similar to the investor who doesn’t want to face the negative returns and shrinking balances on their account statements, executives often don’t want to or are unable to deal with the harsh reality in their organizations and in the competitive environment. It’s so much easier to pretend problems and challenges don’t exist and continue to report stellar results and returns to their boards, stockholders, stakeholders, regulators, and oversight authorities.

In this election season, there has been a lot of banter of “putting lipstick on a pig.” Sounds a little like how ineffective leaders pretend to lead, by putting rosy colored lipstick on a pretty awful looking pig.

The best leaders will use all the information available to face reality and raise the performance of the organization and its people to meet the challenges head on and truly grow and excel.

The average and worst leader ignore what’s going on around them and see only what they want to see and report up and out what they believe others want to hear.

Where does enterprise architecture come into play with this?

Enterprise architecture is a vital source of information for our CIOs and other leaders. The wise ones see the strategic value of enterprise architecture, commit to it, champion it, and invest in it, using it to identify gaps, redundancies, roadblocks, and opportunities to innovate and improve the business and technology of the organization. I urge all CIOs to avoid being like the ostrich, and take this approach.


May 7, 2008

Integrated Marketing Communications and Enterprise Architecture

There is a better way to showing customer love than inundating them with marketing and communications that are not coordinated, not focused, redundant, inconsistent, and not cost-effective.

This is the case of many organizations that have multiple, decentralized, lines of business (LOB) that have their own revenue and profitability targets. Typically LOBs, branches, and call centers solicit customers and their business independently, with distinct marketing campaigns, promotional offers, and customer surveys.

What’s the way to improve our customer interactions?

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” (American Marketing Association)

In DM Review, May 2008, Lisa Loftis provides us a vision of IMC utopia, where customer contact are coordinated, targeted, is helpful to the customer, and profitable to the firm:

“Imagine being able to coordinate and prioritize your entire program of promotions and communications across all customer touchpoints. You could eliminate conflicting offers across channels. You could stop inundating you bet customers with multiple marketing campaigns, You could deliver a seamless dialog with customers where every interaction is relevant to the customer, delivered at exactly the right time and satisfies a significant customer needs. In this universe, the very act of communicating with your customer fosters a positive experience, facilitates trust and expands the relationship.”

Why is IMC important?

“Timely, relevant communications go a long way toward increasing satisfaction, and there is no question that satisfied customers add to the bottom line.”

How is IMC related to User-centric Enterprise Architecture?

User-centric EA relies on IMC to make the architecture end-users experience more satisfying and beneficial to them and thus more valuable to the organization’s decision making. As opposed to traditional EA that often is user/customer blind and develops esoteric and convoluted “artifacts”, User-centric EA seeks to provide end-users with IMC-style information products based on relevant information that is easy to understand and readily available.

What are the enterprise technical solutions that need to be architected in order to build the overall organizational IMC capability?

  1. Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) systems—utilizing CRM system to manage customer contacts. This includes an organization “building a database about its customers that described relationships in sufficient detail so that management, salespeople, people providing service, and perhaps the customer directly could access information, match customer needs with product plans and offerings, remind customers of service requirements, know what other products a customer had purchased, and so forth.” (
  2. Business Intelligence capabilities—“understanding customer behavior and preference through sophisticated predictive analytics, wading through myriad potential contacts to determine the highest-priority opportunities and tuning your data warehouse to work in conjunction with specific contact optimization applications.” (DM Review)
  3. Organizational Culture—adopting a customer contact optimization strategy in an organization that is decentralized is a tough sell.

In the end, developing true IMC capabilities involves moving the organization towards a more centralized model of asset management. That does not mean losing your agility and nimbleness in the marketplace in terms of strategy and decision making, but rather using your consolidated organizational assets (such as data warehouses and business intelligence, CRM systems, and the breadth of depth of your product offerings) to your advantage. You want a unified brand and voice when talking with the customer.


April 29, 2008

Organizational Culture and Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture is about managing change and complexity in the organization. EA establishes the roadmap to evolve, transform and remain competitive in an ever changing world. Part of change involves continually going out there and simply trying—trying to climb the next rung on the ladder; trying to innovate and do something that hasn’t been done before; and generally speaking, trying to do things better, faster, cheaper.

As children, we all learned the old saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” This lesson can apply to both individuals and organizations.

In EA, we set targets that are ambitious. If the targets are too easy to achieve, then they are not challenging us to be our best. So we set the bar high—not too high, so that we fall on our face and break our nose—but high enough, so that we don’t necessarily achieve the target the first time around. We set stretch targets, so that we really are transforming the organization.

How do we keep the organizations focused on the goals and continuously trying to achieve the next big thing?

Well, people like organizations, need to sincerely believe that they indeed can succeed, and they must be dedicated and determined to succeed and achieve their goals.

The Wall Street Journal, 29 April 2008 reports that “‘self-efficacy’ [is] the unshakable belief that some people have that they have what it takes to succeed.”

This is the differentiator between “what makes some people [and organizations] rebound from defeats and go on to greatness while others throw in the towel.”

Is self-efficacy the same as self-esteem?

No. Self-efficacy is “a judgment of specific capabilities, rather than a general feeling of self-worth…there are people with high self-efficacy who ‘drive themselves hard but have low self-esteem because their performance always falls short of their high standards. Still such people succeed because they believe that persistent effort will let them beat the odds.”

“Where does such determination come from?”

Well, there is both nature and nurture involved. “In some cases it’s inborn optimism—akin to the kind of resilience that enables some children to emerge unscathed from extreme poverty, tragedy, or abuse. Self-efficacy can also be built by mastering a task; by modeling the behavior of others who have succeeded; and from…getting effective encouragement, distinct from empty praise.”

Organizations are like people. In fact, organizations are made up of people focused on and working towards a common cause in a structured environment.

Like people, organizations need to believe in their goals and be determined to achieve them. The whole organization needs to come together and rally around the goals and be of one mind, convinced that they can and will achieve success.

Of course, neither people nor organizations succeed the first time around every time. We can’t get discouraged or be afraid to make mistakes. Our organizations need to encourage and promote self-efficacy among their employees so that they will engage in reasonable risk taking in order to innovate and transform.

“It took Thomas Edison 1,000 tries before he invented the light bulb. (‘I didn’t fall 1,000 times, he told a reporter. ‘The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps’).”


November 8, 2007

Five Stages of Grief and Enterprise Architecture

“The Kübler-Ross model describes, in five discrete stages, the process by which people deal with grief and tragedy. Terminally ill patients are said to experience these stages. The model was introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book "On Death and Dying". The stages have become well-known as the "Five Stages of Grief.

The stages are:

  1. Denial: The initial stage: ‘It can't be happening.’
  2. Anger: ‘Why ME? It's not fair!’ (either referring to God, oneself, or anybody perceived, rightly or wrongly, as "responsible")
  3. Bargaining: ‘Just let me live to see my child(ren) graduate.’
  4. Depression: ‘I'm so sad, why bother with anything?’
  5. Acceptance: ‘It's going to be OK.’

Kübler-Ross originally applied these stages to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom). This also includes the death of a loved one and divorce. Kübler-Ross also claimed these steps do not necessarily come in order, nor are they all experienced by all patients, though she stated a person will always experience at least two.” (Wikipedia)

The fives stages of grief have been applied by others to organizational change. For example, Deone Zell in the article, "Organizational Change as a Process of Death, Dying, and Rebirth" (The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Vol. 39, No.1, 73-96, 2003) makes the case that the change process closely resembled that of death and dying idenified by Kubler-Ross.

Further, the Army’s Enterprise Solution Competency Center (ESCC) has applied the stages to grief to the Army’s core business missions going through an Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) or Continuous Business Process Improvement (CBPI) initiative to understand human response to change management. Additionally, they provide helpful suggestions for how to respond to these. (

What we see is that the human response to change is closely aligned to how people respond when something bad happens—i.e. people associate change with something bad happening to them. Therefore, to manage change, we need to understand the human responses as developed by Kubler-Ross, as well as the suggested ways to overcome those, such as presented by the Army ESCC.

User-centric EA is a planning and governance endeavor which by definition involves change and the management of change. Thus, EA practitioners need to understand human response to change and how to effectively deal with it.

Some important examples from Army ESCC of how to respond:

  1. Denial: “emphasize that change will happen.” and “allow time for change to sink in.”
  2. Anger: “distinguish between feelings and inappropriate behavior” and “redirect the blame from the change agent to the real reason necessitating the change (goals of the organization/business case)”
  3. Bargaining: “focus on how the individual or their area will benefit from the change.”
  4. Depression: “provide a series of specific next steps and follow-up frequently” and “reinforce positive actions the individual takes.”
  5. Acceptance: “use the individual as a coach or mentor for others” and “provide recognition for their efforts.”


November 6, 2007

The Gung Ho Organization and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric EA helps lead to a "gung ho" successful enterprise.

In the book Gung Ho by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles, the authors offer 3 tips for motivating people. They include:
  • Work has to be understood as important
  • It has to lead to a well understood and shared goal
  • Values have to guide plans, decisions, and actions
User centric EA is a proponent that an organization cannot be successful in spite its people, but rather it has to be successful through its people. And so, the adversarial relationship that management often sets up with employees, unions, shareholder activists etc. is not beneficial to meeting the mission needs that it's trying to achieve.

In user centric EA, the best way for any organization to achieve its goals is to motivate, inspire, and develop a shared vision with all the organizational actors. Part of developing that unity of mission and vision is to create a strong organizational culture, identity, and values.


November 3, 2007

Myers-Briggs and Enterprise Architecture

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality questionnaire designed to identify certain psychological differences according to the typological theories of Carl Gustav Jung as published in his 1921 book Psychological Types (English edition, 1923).The original developers of the indicator were Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. (Wikipedia)

The MBTI indicates 16 personality types among people. MBTI helps explain why different types of people are interested in different things, are good at different things, excel in cetain types of jobs, and find it difficult to understand and get along with others.

In MBTI, there are 4 performances or pairs of opposing tendencies that people are ranked on:

  1. Introversion or Extroversion—whether the person directs and receives energy from inside themselves or from the outside world.
  2. Sensing or iNtuition—whether the person performs information gathering through their 5 senses or through their 6th sense, intuition.
  3. Thinking or Feeling—whether the person conducts decision-making through logical analysis or through a value-oriened, subjective basis.
  4. Judging or Perceiving—whether the person lifestyle is driven to come to closure and act on decisions or remain open and adapt to new information.

In the book, The Character of Organizations by William Bridges, the author extends the use of MBTI from individuals to organizations.

“Everyone knows that organizations differ in their size, structure, and purpose, but they also differ in character…the personality of the individual organization.” Knowing an organization’s character “enables us to understand why organizations act as they do and why they are so very hard to change in any fundamental way.”

Applying the Myers-Briggs 4 pairs of preferences to organizations looks like this:

  1. Introversion or Extroversion—“Is the organization primarily outwardly oriented toward markets, competition, and regulations or is it inwardly oriented toward its own technology, its leaders’ dreams, or its own culture.”
  2. Sensing or iNtuition—“Is the organization primarily focused on the present, the details, and the actuality of situations or on the future, the big picture, and the possibilities inherent.”
  3. Thinking or Feeling—“Decision making happens on the basis of principles like consistency, competence, and efficiency or through a personal process that depends on values like individuality, the common good, or creativity.”
  4. Judging or Perceiving—“Prefer to reach firm decision, define things clearly, and get closure on issues or always seeking more input, preferring to leave things loose, or opting to keep their choices open.”

Where does an organization’s character come from?

  1. Its founder
  2. Influence of business (especially a particular industry)
  3. Employee groups
  4. Subsequent leaders (especially it’s current leader)
  5. Its history and traditions

“An organization’s character is certainly going to change over the years. And with all the variables at work, you can see that the changes are going to be somewhat unpredictable…the important point is that at any given time, an organization will have a particular character, which will to a large extent shape its destiny.”

From a User-centric EA perspective, the character of the organization can have a citical impact on the work of its EA practioners. Here are some examples:

  • The target architecture—the EA practioner needs to tailor the target architecture to the character of the organization. For example, an introverted organization may be more intent on developing proprietary technology solutions or customizing software to its own ends than an extroverted organization which may be more inclined to out of the box, commercial-off-the-shelf software solutions.
  • IT governance—the EA practioner may need to handle IT governance differently if the organization is a judging or perceiving one. For example, if the organization is more judging, the IT Investment Review Board and EA Review Board may be able to come to decisions on new IT investments and their alignment with the organization's EA more quickly than a perceiving organization, which may be reluctant to make firm decisions on new IT investments or may require additional information and details or require exhaustive analysis of alternatives.
  • Change management—the EA practioner may need to handle various levels of resistance to change and manage it accordingly based on whether an organization is more sensing or intuitive. For example, if the organization is more sensing, focused on the present and the details of it, then the enterprise may not be as receptive to change as an organization that is more perceiving, big picture, strategic, and future-oriented.

Just as an understanding of your own and others personality helps guide self-development, life decisions, and social interactions, so too knowing an organization’s character can provide the EA practioner critical information to help develop a realistic architecture for the enterprise, provide useful IT governance for investment management decisions, and influence interactions for effectively managing organizational change.