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Change is difficult. This is a given for most people but it is always interesting to see how organizations cope with this. Mostly change is a black box, something we experience from the sideline and can only observe afterwards. Luckily I was able to experience some challenges that come with change firsthand during my graduation internship for my MSc Urban, Port & Transport Economics.
The company I worked for was planning to roll-out a new product going from alpha to beta-stage. However they had no data whatsoever on customer relations, complaints and product performance (of older products). They wanted to make sure that they knew what was going well (and not so well) so they could address any problems prior to rolling out the new product. Next to this they also wanted to know how they were experienced in the market and what their customers thought.
Knowledge is power
As Remco Blom points out in his blog “Business Model Innovations: follow the customer, or others will!” it is important to know what your customer wants. This is reinforced by countless academic papers on Customer Knowledge and Database Marketing. However, all this knowledge needs to be obtained somehow. During my internship I therefore performed internal interviews, held a survey and finished with external interviews. Although the results were quite interesting, the possibilities they unlocked were even more interesting.
“Today knowledge is power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.” – Peter Drucker
The quote of Drucker is a heavy one and yes, knowledge gives access to opportunity and advancement, however one can only grasp opportunity and advancement if willing to change. Working with solutions such as Architect or learning how to apply TOGAF or use ArchiMate gives a useful foundation to become an enterprise architect, but it does not necessarily give you the skills or experience to collaborate with people behind processes and changes. This is one of the biggest challenges you can experience as an enterprise architect. As a good architect you’re constantly working on the future. You map out the current situation, mostly with the idea of changing it into a new situation. However behind those little boxes and lines there are actual people who tend to dislike change (most tangible in the form of being fired or losing privileges).
Fear of change
However, there are ways to address this fear of change and ease the transition made. August Turak has written a great blog on the Forbes website on the stages of fear and ways to overcome this inherent phobia, focusing on the people aspect and careful planning. Adam Dachis at Lifehacker talks about trying to see the upside – even if people freak out. Although he also considers training yourself to become aware of the fact that the only constant is change.
All in all I can say that I experienced the change of operations within the company of my internship, facilitated by the knowledge obtained as refreshing, because I was not used yet to the status quo. However, I do believe that a personal touch, communication and planning (in combination with personal adjustments) can alleviate the stress of change.
So I can conclude that change is scary – especially considering negative changes – but there are ways to address this fear. By using methods such as those previously mentioned, an enterprise architect can help himself by finding more support for his work, but also help the people affected to improve their way of dealing with the consequences of his work. Sadly, by the time I left the company, no change was implemented yet. Nevertheless, for me it was a useful experience.
In addition to the fear of change, there are many challenges for an enterprise architect: if you would like to address one (or more), please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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