Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Enterprise Architecture and Fear

In a previous blog entry, I discussed the neccessary ingredient to enterprise architecture being courage. Lack of courage causes fear which is today's topic...

Professor Deming, in his Fourteen Points for Management and Theory of Profound Knowledge noted the importance of driving fear out of the enterprise. Savagely eliminating fear out of the enterprise is so crucial to the functional (as opposed to dysfunctional, non-functional, status quo, SNAFU, etc) effectiveness of the daily lives of its citizens.

When fear is eliminated quality has the potential of increasing ten-fold. David Anderson in his blog has a great entry on Quality as a Competitive Weapon. Sometimes EAs participate in creation of their own fear by allowing non-believing individuals to share the famous sobriquet of the state of Missouri: "Show Me". Maybe part of the fear is actually encouraged by the folks over in human resources who allow this type of behavior to become pervasive.

Other EA's create fear by staying exclusively focused on meeting service-level agreements which misses the whole point. In the past I have stated that Government Enterprise Architecture is a big fat joke! but do believe that there are some things the corporate sector can learn from Uncle Sam.

In 1996, the Clinger-Cohen Act mandated enterprise architecture for all government entities. Fear was driven out of the government in terms of EA by an act of congress. This particular act demanded a systematic process and ensuing output occur to ensure consistent IT investments for the government. Maybe EAs should be using their own form of congress (it's called executive row) to use the same tactic.

The hurdle for organizations seeking to engage in EA is contentment with the status quo. Sponsorship and commitment to EA begins with, at minimum, the CIO. Complacent cultures with few performance standards and the absence of visible crises, in the perception of those who lead the organization, are the death knell to any change in IT practices.

Now for some brutal honesty. I too am guilty of encouraging fear. In thinking about my own behavior, fear is sometimes created by me using tactics based on what other enterprises are doing which is simply wrong. Real world enterprise architecture must be based on the needs of the enterprise; not on "everyone else is doing it"...

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