>When the Plan Fails and Enterprise Architecture

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Enterprise architecture develops the roadmap for the organization and no roadmap is foolproof. With any roadmap, sometimes there’s a traffic jam, an overturned tractor-trailer, or a washed-out bridge. Whatever the scenario, the EA plan is not the right way to go all the time, every time. That is why the plans need to be agile and responsive to the events as they unfold on the ground.

Similarly, in our personal lives, not every road we take is going to lead us to success. In business school we learn that 90% of new businesses fail within the first 5 years. Nowadays, even marriages fail at a rate close to 50%. And according to ExecuNet, the “average executive tenure is less than four years…[and] 18% of executives do not survive their first year in a new job.” So as individuals and as organizations, we can plan for success, but there are no guarantees.

Fortune Magazine, 9 June 2008, reports “a reversal or two can pave the way to triumph…[or] adversity makes you stronger.” Here’s how you can persevere in the face of adversity (adopted from Fortune, but my thoughts on what they mean):

  1. Calculated risk taking—just because you or your organization fails at something, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line. You have to pick yourself back up onto the proverbial horse and start riding again. It is risky to keep trying, of course. Life is full of risks. You can’t avoid risk. So you take calculated risks and keep trying until you succeed.
  2. Get rid of the naysayers—doubters and naysayers can take the wind out of your plans and ambitions. Yes, listen to reason and experience and learn from it. But don’t just abandon your dreams. If you believe you can do something and can make a difference, you owe it to yourself to try.
  3. Live a purpose-driven life—similar to an organization needing a mission, vision, strategy, and architecture to provide a purpose and roadmap for the organization, so to an individual needs a purpose and a plan to advance their personal goals and aspirations.
  4. Visualize success—I’ve heard this one many times used successfully for those in sports, entertainment, going into interviews, and even those with illness and disabilities. You have to train your mind to think, feel, and actualize the success experience. If you can just visualize success, you are truly a step closer to it.
  5. Lessons learned—We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. The key though is to learn from those mistakes, so that you do better the next time around. Life’s lessons build on each other. That’s why with age comes wisdom. Experience can go a long way to a new round of success.
  6. Failure is not a life sentence—While we may certainly feel that failure is the end of the world, more often than not, failure is temporary. We’ve got to see past the failure—see the light at the end of tunnel and make our way toward it. That light is success waiting for us.

In the end, we have to be strong to deal with the bumps and bruises we call life. I see enterprise architecture as a structure for dealing with risk and uncertainty. In its most simplistic form, identifying where you are, setting a target of where you want to go, and charting a course to get there is a lens that we can use in almost every aspect of our organizational and personal lives. Rather, than wandering along aimlessly, let’s set a path and try to have an interesting journey filled with learning, growth and hopefully some success for our efforts.

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