>Corporate Culture and Enterprise Architecture

>Organizational or corporate culture is “the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization. Organizational values are beliefs and ideas about what kinds of goals members of an organization should pursue and ideas about the appropriate kinds or standards of behavior organizational members should use to achieve these goals. From organizational values develop organizational norms, guidelines or expectations that prescribe appropriate kinds of behavior by employees in particular situations and control the behavior of organizational members towards one another” (Wikipedia).

The Wall Street Journal, 13 August 2007, states that “New leaders typically reshape their senior executive team and the company’s growth strategies. The most wrenching adjustment occurs when a CEO changes the corporate culture—the core values and ways of doing things that bind people to their jobs…yet few CEO’s take the time to learn about the culture they inherited. They need to understand both the traditional purpose of a company and it’s philosophy—or why, precisely, employees feel the work they do is important, and how they believe their approach distinguishes them from others.” If changing culture is necessary, then the CEO needs to explain this to the employees, so that work quality and productivity does not suffer.

As enterprise architects, we can learn from the mistakes of others (even CEOs) in not understanding or respecting the culture of the organizations they serve. User-centric EA needs to respect the organizational culture in developing the target, transition plan, and strategy. The chief enterprise architect needs to learn and understand the values, norms, guidelines, and expectation that prescribe behavior in the enterprise if they wish to stand any chance of successfully shaping the future of the organization. This can be done by the chief enterprise architect spending time with and talking to “the troops.”

Enterprise architecture can not be successful as an ivory-tower exercise. All too often, however, it is done like an academic or textbook endeavor rather than as a genuine
attempt to understand both internal and external drivers for change. (At the same time, the reality is that the function of enterprise architecture is usually short on resources and cannot achieve its potential as it would if it were fully funded and resourced.) It is imperative that organizations provide adequate resources, so the architects can go and visit frontline employees and leadership across the organization to learn the culture, the functions, requirements, and pain points. Translating this information into future plans and strategies for the organization will then be much more meaningful and effective.

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