13 years, 9 months ago

From tribes to nations

As discussed in a previous blog entry (Don’t do it fast, do it right) the agility imperative for modern enterprises is not only to change fast, but rather to enable the right changes at the right time in the right way. This raises the natural question of how? How to identify the right changes, how to find the optimal time for implementing them and finally how to executive change in the right way?

Plenty of literature addresses these three questions – only depending on viewpoint (BPM, Enterprise Architecture, Business Architecture, software engineering etc.) a particular paper or book has different answers … What this illustrates is that different people have different objectives and different opinions on what constitutes the right changes – typically based on the discipline within which these people have grown and gained experience.

How do we overcome the tribal nature of a complex organization and evolve to a nation, working together towards common goals based on each our specialties and skills? In particular as in many cases these different “tribes” of the enterprise do not even share a common language base, do not have the same concepts as a foundation for understanding? The first thing to do is establish a common and recognized landscape for change; only then can we discuss how to collaborate and govern within that landscape. The landscape analogy is chosen on purpose as I believe that the first pre-requisite for building a nation is to map and understand the various tribes living within the borders of that future nation – once we know who is out there, maybe even understand some of their languages and goals, then our fears and concerns are immediately reduced, our challenges more tractable. We have in fact progressed from an unknown void full of dangers to an explored and known landscape – admittedly still with many challenges ahead, only now these are challenges that we can identify and address, as opposed to (often irrational) simply fearing the unknown.

I am of course not suggesting that a modern enterprise is exactly the same as a tribal environment full of fears and superstitions. Still the analogy holds in that something known and recognized is much easier to address than something unknown and not recognized. A prime example of this is that once BPM and EA practitioners recognize the need to work together for better business outcomes, then it becomes much easier to set up appropriate collaboration patterns for guiding and governing change.