Thinking back over the big-ticket technologies and transformations I have done over the last 13 years, I keep returning to one simple observation.
The technology is often the least troublesome aspect.
Corporate culture – not technology – is the greatest obstacle to the implementation of (x).
In the past (x) has been (in no particular order):
- Network based Systems
- x.500 based Directories
- Access based Security
- Identity and Access Management
- Electronic Workflow
- Business Process Management
- Enterprise Service Bus
- Integrated Communication and Collaboration Systems
- etc, et al and so on
Whenever such programmes of work were initiated the general issues were always the same. Generally speaking, the innovation itself – neither the technology. the value to the business nor the benefits of the programme – were truly questioned. The greatest impediments to the (x) innovation was in fact what I call the four horseman of change: culture was the biggest issue, followed by the constraints of data and process (re)engineering and finally funding.
When we engage with our clients, we need to try and remember that the issue of architecture is not going to be how many sprockets and widgets are needed – because in all seriousness we can get cheaper resources to put that together – but in what aspects of change do we need to make them aware of? The technology will bring with it cultural challenges. Ideally, we need to be able to discuss these aspects with Senior leadership who need to be at the forefront, adopting and encouraging the the changes that will need to be incorporated for the programme to be a success and to achieve its final aim.
Our job as Architects – whether Enterprise, Solution or Lead - is to look at existing infrastructure, management support and organizational culture, and identify what channels of change are needed.
As we move into new versions of (x) such as
- (all those various *aaS) cloud services
- Enterprise 2.x
- Big Data
- Corporate Transparency
- Social Business
Those four horseman of change will need to be herded more than ever. Often through our own engagements, we are not dealing with the people who need to be engaged – so, how do we ensure that they are aware of the charge coming over the hill?
As a consulting architect, this has often meant also becoming a consulting mentor – teaching the person we face off against about the aspects of change and why they are important to the success of the programme, then grooming them to become the spokesperson and “champion of the cause”.
So, I know for most of us in this space this is nothing new – but I wonder about the lessons others have learnt along the way – the tools, processes or techniques deployed to aid and promote those aspects. In short, what can help us become better “consulting architects” and in turn assisting the businesses to better deal with the changes?