Last week I read a blog post by Rosabeth Moss Katner talking about Leadership and seven sayings that can guide and comfort those trying to drive change. It was a good post and I tweeted it along with the comment “good advice for enterprise architects and other change agents”. Since we began our interest in EA, Tim and I have embraced the slogan that “Enterprise Architects are Change Agents” and have used it as a theme when coaching and teaching.
Lately, though, it seems that many EA practitioners don’t understand what the concept of “change agent” is all about and/or how to make it real, or are comfortable or constrained to only work on change at the micro (project, product, system, etc.) level vs. the enterprise level. I wanted to take this opportunity to reinforce the concept that being an effective enterprise architect often means acting as an agent to drive large-scale change into your culture, influencing larger communities of people to engage, interact and make decisions in a non-local, non-micro “enterprise” way.
The quotes Ms. Katner’s selected for her blog post are from herself and also from various literary and historical figures. They are spot on and highly relevant to the EA community, specifically as applied to our role as leaders and change agents. Some examples:
The quote from the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland that “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there” speaks directly to the main focus of our work. Creating a coherent (and “business first” – see Tim’s accompanying post) future state enterprise architecture becomes the target that all paths must lead to. Engaging leadership in discussions about the substance and form of that future state is the key to success here – finding the context and the opportunity is the tactic and there are many possible approaches.
The quote from Yogi Berra that “when you come to a fork in the road, take it” implies that we as enterprise architects sometimes must “stir the pot” and experiment, to not be afraid to float ideas before they are fully baked and see where they lead. The fear of making mistakes is often so intrinsic that it paralyzes many of the EA teams that we have helped over the years. Today, with internal social networking, many organizations now have vehicles where open, lower-risk exploration and trial-ballooning can occur.
Becoming an EA cultural change agent isn’t for everyone, but many reluctant practitioners have discovered that they are capable of doing it, once they embrace some of the concepts described here, practice them, and become confident in their abilities.