We now see that being a change agent is an important part of an Architects Mindset as we become more business aligned, value driven and outcome focused. Just like Iasa supports Architecture as a Profession, Change Management recently became a professional discipline as well. See more at ACMP.
We know that Architects constantly need to demonstrate value and relevance to the organization. Much of this is their own fault for not doing so before and the cheese was moved; but the result remains, Architects constantly need to demonstrate value and relevance. Playing a more formal role in change is a new opportunity that enables Architects to get out more, engaging directly and building relationships with key stakeholders across the organization.
I have written before on the importance of time, rather than “value”, and this fits well with a role in change as it allows the Architect to demonstrate how core architecture capabilities such as governance, decision making, principles, leadership, etc. can all play a role in driving towards the business outcome. I am not suggesting Architects become the change manager or change agent; that role is fraught with danger as the change agent must often call out behaviors and attitudes that are not really helping. However, to support the change process, I’m suggesting that Architects need to get into the JFDI mindset, or more politely, of just getting things done.
There are several long lists of change frameworks and methods posted in various LinkedIn groups focused on CM. There are 5-step (Prosci ADKAR), 6-step (ChangeFirst), 8-step (Kotter) and many more; all really just variations on Demmings PDCA. But rather than just follow a framework, let’s discuss some practical things Architects can just do to support the change perspective (view); consider:
Motivation: Are you on board? The Architect as evangelist for the project supported by (espousing) the Architecture Principles, essentially a way to align and position the project within the culture of the organization (assuming that is reflected the Architecture Principles). Reminding people about principles and values keeps culture, strategy and execution aligned (none of that culture eats strategy for breakfast excuse) and provide some visibility for the Architecture Principles.
Decisions: Consider the Architects role in decision making; whether the Architect has full decision rights or is just in an advisory role, what can we do to make decisions quicker rather than wait for the next quarterly Architecture Review Board?
JFDI: And once a decision has been made, the Architect must become a leader, walking the talk and living the change rather than halfheartedly going along with things. Remember that the end-customer’s schedule is dependent on your schedule and your contribution. The project can’t deliver any faster than you can, so meeting your commitments is critical to their (and ultimately your) success.
Fail Fast, the Architect as challenger: Architects are schooled to think things through, deeply. Do we really need all that thinking? And all too often change execution defers to Project Management. But the project mindset focuses on “control during the execution phase, monitoring the project for risks and keeping those risks at bay. It also involves keeping changes in project execution to a minimum.” So respectfully, challenge and measure so we can see if things are not meeting expectations, change the project plan and try something else.
Reinforcement: The Architect must reinforce the change, to make it stick and ensure we do not return to the old ways. We made that decision so let’s not revisit it every day. Be someone who celebrates right from the beginning, not just at the end. Use Positive Reinforcement, taking the most positive interpretation, seeing the glass half full, confirming we are making progress towards the desired outcomes.
All of these spring from a focus on getting things done; the Architect becomes known as someone who can speed things up and remove obstacles, reducing elapsed time. SO consider these five change mantra’s taken from the world of change and work towards one simple goal: to get there quicker.
Happy to discuss; I am constantly updating these ideas as I track the latest work by forward thinkers using ideas from OpenSpace, Responsive.org and the Work Out Loud movement. I will be exploring these mindsets at the upcoming ITARCs in Raleigh September 22+23 and Austin October 6+7 where IASA has workshops and sessions to develop your awareness and skills around these five ideas: Motivation, Reducing Decision Time, JFDI, Fail Fast and Positive Reinforcement. I will also show how they relate to modern agile approaches for Architects of all specializations.
This combination of change levers ensures that we address multiple motivators simultaneously. People are satisfied and further motivated when the reward relative to effort is seen as positive and fair. If the Architect focuses on outcomes, that everyone has bought into, and drives towards them as fast as possible, everyone benefits and lives in the future vision sooner. Remember, this is not meant to be another framework. It is not even a method. But perhaps it is a mindset that is necessary for Architects to lead, for change to be more open and accepted, for outcomes to be achieved sooner. I call it Change Out Loud ©.
Register for the Change Management and EA course at Iasa Raleigh ITARC: https://itabok.iasaglobal.org/itarc-southeast/