Friday, February 16, 2007


The Culture of Fear...

Last night, I had the opportunity to chat with an Enterprise Architect currently living in Chicago whom we have over the course of our careers mentored each other. He shared with me how the culture within his organization is changing for the worse. Lately, I have found that my ability to provide advice to others has been diminishing...

Most enterprise architects upon viewing the above image would conclude that the spoon is bent. More and more, we have had to consider the possibility that maybe the world around is bent and the spoon is just fine. The conversation was very painful for me to have in that I know he puts his heart into everything he delivers and is thoughtful in everything he does yet this isn't enough in his environment. To take a fine individual and make him fear the ability to show the product of his work is a travesty.

The notion of fear oriented cultures seems to be growing within my network. Normally, it is manifest in that if a person makes a mistake, they feel threatened in that they might be fired and therefore hide whatever they produce. In this scenario though, he has always produced high quality impeccable work that I would defy anyone to find a flaw with.

Normally I would have suggested to this individual that they should share his thoughts with management with the hope that they would not only listen but truly attempt to understand but I don't believe this work in modern society. Sometimes when individuals raise a red flag, they are praised for avoiding potential problems down the road while at other times they will be perceived as being conflictive.

Have you ever read the book by Ed Yourdon entitled Death March? Sometimes death marches can't be avoided and you must simply let them happen. In thinking about this issue, maybe the advice that I should have given is for him to understand his own motivations at the beginning of the death march, so that he can make a rational decision (rather than emotional) to join the team or find a new employer?

I really hate to suggest to others that they should quit as no one I truly respect is ever a quitter. I wonder if in his situation whether the consequences of quitting, even without another job in hand are no worse that the consequences of staying?

I would be keenly interested in exploring why death marches still exist today with others in the blogosphere when we have the ability to make fact-driven decisions through disciplines such as Enterprise Architecture where we can remove perceptions out of the equation...

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