No Change is Also A Course of Action
When we first defined our EA mission in my former job in usual terms of “change”, we were immediately confronted with counter argument that sometimes the best option is to do nothing. Oh well, right, we kind of thought of that implicitly.
This came to my mind again months later. One of the problems in enterprise architecture is kind of an inherent urge to see or look for problems in the current situation and strong conviction that a change is needed. Well… Sometimes the best course of action is no changeJ Or in other words, what we see as a problem might not be a problem at all, it might even be a desired state (however you might disagree with that).
So in order to justify that the current state is actually problematic and leads to future that’s not accepted by the stakeholders I started to put something I call for now “default scenario” in all discussions and assessments. Default scenario is nothing more than the characteristics of the current state and expected future trajectory/consequences.
This seems really trivial, but the effect is not all that small. First of all, accepting the current state as a valid option for the company makes stakeholders more open for discussion (because otherwise when you point out to problems they are pretty often ready to advocate or explain the reasons and more in defense style even though they might not like the situation themselves). Second of all, it makes the situation transparent, so it can be discussed and explicitly compared to change options. And third of all, the kicker: should there be no decision for any change, it’s in fact a decision to stay on the current track with all the consequences. This gives you all new dimension in argumentations.
It’s really important to note that I am talking about characteristics of the state – as objective as possible description of how the “things” look like and behave. It’s not judging, so watch out for putting your preference or negative undertone to what you write or say. It’s up to your stakeholders to tell you whether it’s desired (with all the consequences) or problematic and should be tackled.
In some cases, however, when there’s significant fear of transparency (because it would point out problems or might cause risk of losing turfs), this can be quite tricky. This might not fit for that sort of culture or environment.