>Management By Walking Around and Enterprise Architecture

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Enterprise architecture is about planning and governance; it is a leadership function. But after this comes execution — implementation; a management function. And what better way to organize, coordinate, direct, and make things happen “on the ground” than by using management by walking around (MBWA)?

What is MBWA?

MBWA is about getting managers out of their lofty, ivory tower offices and spending time with “the troops.” In MBWA, managers literally make their way around to their staff and spend time talking with them, learning, guiding, building relationships, and motivating. MBWA is about being in regular touch with your people; having straight-talking and trusting dialogue. These are impromptu conversations and informal “coffee talks,” rather than planned, scheduled, agenda-driven meetings. It is a way to understand what employees are facing and experiencing and as the same time to build purpose, team, and keep things “on track”.

Where did MBWA come from?

“As HP grows [in the 1940s], Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard create a management style that forms the basis of HP‘s famously open corporate culture and influences how scores of later technology companies will do business. Dave practices a management technique — eventually dubbed “management by walking around” — which is marked by personal involvement, good listening skills and the recognition that ‘everyone in an organization wants to do a good job.’” (http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/timeline/hist_40s.html)

Later in the 1980s, Tom Peters promoted MBWA as a way for organizations to “find greater success interacting with employees and customers than by remaining in isolation from them. Rather than micromanaging employees, MBWA allowed management to informally communicate with employees and to coordinate at a more personal level.”

(BI Review Magazine, 3 December 2007)

How is MBWA most effective?

According to futurecents.com, here are some guidelines for effective MBWA:

  • Do it to everyone
  • Do it as often as you can
  • Go by yourself (one on one)
  • Ask questions
  • Watch and listen
  • Share your vision
  • Try out their work
  • Bring good news (successes, positive initiatives, share optimism)
  • Thank people
  • Don’t be critical

With MBWA helping managers and staff to connect, communicate, and carry out, enterprise architecture plans and governance have a much better opportunity to succeed in the day-to-day lives of the users being asked to execute.