Thursday, October 11, 2007
Enterprise Architecture: Perception Management destroys Innovation...
At its highest level of immaturity, perception is reality tends to breed communication patterns where employees are told what they want to hear instead of what is actually happening. Metrics are created left and right as a flag waving exercise to show that transparency is the goal but if you look carefully, the metrics measure activity and not value. The funny thing is that the business side of the house as consumers of most metrics receive them but neither understand nor challenge. In reality, IT won't get better and expenses will continue to rise relative to the value provided unless business folks have the ability to tell the difference between when IT is lying or when they are truly going out of their way to meet business expectations.
I wonder how many executives understand what those below them think in terms of how they are perceived? Are modern IT executives merely facades for those that came before them? Nowadays, it isn't too difficult to find an IT executive who focuses on the following in increasing amount of time but in decreasing order of importance:
- how they appear to others
- how their department appears to others
- how their organization appears to others
If you study the behavior models of those who evangelize perception is reality, you may hear them talking about innovation and how they are the linchpin to making it happen within the enterprise, but reality tells a different story. If you were to look at history, the innovators of the past have had less of a perception mindset and more of an engineering mindset where their focus wasn't on perception and in all reality had a totally different set of priorities. At some level, they thought about things in terms of importance as follows:
- making things
- making things that work
- making things that are useful
Maybe what is wrong with modern IT is that IT executives forgot the simple fact that they need engineers to make things and the sole focus isn't just on making thinly veiled PowerPoint presentations. If you also look back to the days when IT was cheap, you would realize that there were more engineers than perception-oriented folks. Likewise, if you were to plot when IT expenses started to grow faster than revenue, you may discover the time when IT executives started focusing on perception and thinking that if they don't like what engineers are telling them, then they can just go get another.
People skills are important, but not more important than engineering skills within an IT culture. People skills are nothing more than knowing how to appear good to others. We have to do something about the death march downward spiral of spending time and effort acquiring people skills as it means we are obviously focusing less on learning science and making things well which can only result in increased IT spend and less competitive advantage...
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