Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Layered Architecture of Technology Adoption

@colin_jack asked whether companies ever really change, ignoring situations where there is a big change of staff (one group leaves, another group joins). People seem to want to slip back into their old way of working within weeks or months. Thinking particularly of the fast big bang changes companies go for. Agile, SOA, etc.

Companies do often change their nature as they get larger and older, but this is a slow process. Managed organization change involves several loosely-coupled streams of activity, which operate on different timetables. Installing new software, sending everyone on a training course, renegotiating project charters and external service contracts, building experience and confidence in new practices - these things all happen at different speeds.

A key principle of evolutionary change is that the slow-moving layers generally dominate the faster-moving layers. If your organization wishes to adopt "agile" or "service-orientation" or anything like that, this requires attention to the slow-moving layers as well.

When I was working with CASE tools in the late 1980s, I and a few colleagues constructed an adoption roadmap to help with planning technology adoption. This roadmap was
designed in layers or streams, not just to aid with separation of concerns, but also to manage the different characteristic pace of change in each stream. This is architectural thinking applied to organizational change. And nearly twenty years layer, exactly the same principles were used by the CBDI Forum in constructing a roadmap for SOA adoption.

1 comment:

Colin Jack said...

Yeah that makes a lot of sense to me, refining your approach when considering each particular layer makes sense to me.

Seems to me the discipline and organization needed is way above what most companies currently put into these efforts though (or most companies I've seen).

Will you be covering this topic in your new book out of interest?