Monday, November 23, 2009

SOA and Corporate Culture change

One of the most difficult tasks of a major paradigm shift or architectural change or major technological change is Organizational Culture change (Corporate Culture change).
Without a cultural change SOA's Value Proposition could be turned to nothing, because SOA's benefits such as Service Reuse will not take place. 
In a recent ebizQ webinar Gartner's VP Distinguished Analyst Yefim Natis, talked about SOA Proponents’ Myths. 100% Service Reuse is one of these myths. The reality is that successful Service Reuse ratio is about 30%.
It is obvious that Service Reuse is easy to say and is hard to use.
The expectations of near to 100 percent usage of Objects in Objects Oriented also failed. However, there are significant measured benefits even to small percentage of Object Reuse and more significant benefits for small percentage of Service Reuse.
Why is Service Reuse limited?
The main reasons are Technical and Cultural.
As far as Technical reasons are concerned, sometimes it could be difficult and cost a lot to generalize a Service across systems. Expanding the components included in the service in order to support reuse, could require a lot of coding and increase complexity. Due to this technical limitation large enterprises architecture could include two levels of Service Bus: Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) or Big Bus and ESB like departmental or Line of Business Bus or Small Bus. The Services in the Second level Bus are reused only internally i.e. by different applications in the same department or Line of Business. 
The Cultural issue limiting Service Reuse is related to creating a Reuse Culture in the organization. Absence of Reuse Culture obviously limits the frequency of Service Reuse. The transformation from a traditional organizational culture could be difficult due to resistance to change and other factors.


Expect resistance to any cultural change. The reasons for opposing cultural changes required for implementing SOA varied:
1.Conservatives - Some people are conservative and therefore oppose any change.
2. Potential Losers – People who fear that they could not adapt to the new culture and lose their status.  The people included in this group are usually experienced and knowledgeable as far as the current corporate culture is concerned. For example, very productive programmers could lose their rewards in a new culture that rewards Reuse instead of development.
3. If it is not broken do not fix it – People who think that the current culture is good enough. However, in many cases they may be wrong because current business dynamics requires Agility or in other words used more often by Business C level managers (CEO, CFO, etc.) ability to respond quickly.

Changing Corporate Culture

Changing Corporate Culture is not simple. The methods of changing the culture could be specific to each organization.
A nice illustration of a unique way of changing Corporate Culture was posted by Peter Bregman in his blog in Harvard Business School site. The example has nothing to do with SOA, but it illustrated the creativity needed for identifying the key for change.

1 comment:

Akiva Marks said...

Further preventing such change and leading to SOA failure in many organizations is that such efforts are completely bottom-up. They come from IT for IT - because it's "neat" and "cool" technology (and indeed holds some promise of making things easier).

When this type of change runs into the wall of project managers and senior IT management, that's completely motivated by delivering to business NEED, it fails.

The reuse culture change has to be closely tied to business needs, and demonstrated (to IT and the business) as solving business problems. Then the IT management becomes motivated to embrace the change for it's value in meeting their goals to the business.

Culture change still is difficult, but without the right motivators it's impossible.

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