SOA: Think Business Transformation, Not Code Reuse

SOA: Think Business Transformation, Not Code Reuse – – Business Technology Leadership.

This article gets an enthusiastic “thumbs up” from me on the topic of leveraging technology for business transformation.


What are the top 10 characteristics YOU think are critical as a Change Leader?

My list….(in no particular order)


What am I missing? What do you think are the most important?

Defining Agile Change Management

UPDATE – Please be sure to check out the Change Management Manifesto as well.

How much process is too much process? How can you implement enough process so that you get the benefits (e.g. efficiency, repeatability, scale, etc.) but not too much so as to slow down your agility? The Change Management discipline / industry would be wise to reflect on the concept of “agile” from the software development industry to address these questions.

If you are a change leader, I encourage you to learn more about “agile” concepts in software development. You can easily search on the term “agile” and get a plethora of sites with information. In summary, the agile approach embraces

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Don’t take my word for it. These bullets originated in “The Agile Manifesto” at

Personally, I find agile principles serve as a helpful guideline when trying to balance the need for process. However, many people incorrectly define agile as “without process”. This is not true, and in some ways, agile techniques require more personal discipline than a classic SDLC approach (e.g. waterfall). Agile processes exist, but they live within the context of the four bullets listed above.

Processes are definitely needed, in particular for companies that have reached a certain scale. I have come to experience that “with complexity comes a need for increased discipline.” Processes are proven and worthy tools to deal with complexity in scale, speed to delivery, geographic distance, business risk (e.g. SOX), language barriers, technical barriers, human resource management (e.g. hiring & firing), financial planning (e.g. establishing and managing budgets), software development, etc.

So, in our current environment of a shrinking economy, is complexity going up or down? I say, up. Companies are forced to deal with challenges that they previously may have avoided due to success. Said another way, “success covers up many ills”. To deal with these new complexities, companies may look to leverage processes for increased productivity, efficiency, and most importantly transparency into their business. It is my assertion that, with process comes the law of diminishing returns. There comes a point where process gets in the way, and inhibits a business if process is not actively managed. How do most large entities (companies, governments, institutions) deal with the complexities listed above? They implement processes to manage risk and maintain a level of homogeneous execution across a diverse operations model. This will work, and many companies are proving their success with large scale process deployments today (e.g. look to the Business Process Outsourcing models of any big consulting firm and the existence of ERP software).

The challenge I want to address here is the need to balance process with innovation, delivery, and growth as a change leader. I am not sure there is an answer to “how much process is enough process?” but I am certain that the agile manifesto and the principles it aspires to are helpful to begin addressing the question.

Seven Revolutions | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Seven Revolutions | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Thanks to my alma mater, Saint Joseph’s University(SJU) in Philadelphia, PA for the link above. SJU will be hosting Erik Peterson and a presentation of the Seven Revolutions on campus this spring. I look forward to this “big thinking” event and translating these concepts into the everyday challenges change leaders face.

Please visit SJU at for details and to register.

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Changing the Leadership and Culture

So, you are working your way through a change or transformation effort, and you are 25%, 50%, maybe even 75% of the way through and the efforts or more importantly, the results are fading. There is probably a bit of change fatigue, and there is probably also a bit of lack of leadership. Can you tell the difference? How do you react?

Rarely does anyone argue against the importance of leadership. Leadership is like “motherhood and apple pie”, as an American, it’s hard to argue against. However, how do you position leadership as a critical element in your change efforts. The fact that leadership is “motherhood and apple pie” almost undermines the need to emphasize it within a transformation effort. However, an article from the Center for Change Leadership takes an interesting perspective on this topic.

I propose that, if you find extremely unique competitive differentiators within your business, you can probably leverage them for a profit for a period of time until it becomes commoditized or the rules of your industry change so much that they marginalize your competitive differentiation. Alternatively, if all things are equal (and I have seen dozens of global companies who claim to have unique operational process, but they are not), your teamwork and leadership NEEDS TO BE a competitive advantage. Is it today? If it isn’t today, what are you doing about it? If you are involved in a change or transformation effort, you need to find a way to work into your daily routine an ability to address leadership and teamwork. The Forbes article above outlines some of the considerations for leadership in a transformation. For additional perspective, research the intersection of leadership and change. Ask yourself if you are inspired by your leadership. And if you are a leader, make sure you are inspiring and compelling your enterprise in the most positive manner to change across the obvious (business capabilities and technical enablers) as well as the not so obvious (strategy, culture, skills, and structure). For more on the obvious and not so obvious domains of change, reference my earlier post here

2010 Prosci Global Conference on Best Practices in Change ManagementBusiness Transformation, change management, conferences, prosci

I will be speaking at the 2010 Prosci Global Conference on Best Practices in Change Management in Las Vegas, NV on the topic of Integrating Project Management and Change Management. I look forward to a lively exchange of ideas and to hearing more thought leadership on the topic.

So, what is your experience with the intersection of project management and change management? I shared some perspectives on this topic in a previous blog post here -> . These perspectives were sourced through a lively discussion via a few of LinkedIn’s group discussions. I am very interested in your thoughts and comments in my guestbook for inclusion at the conference.

For more information, please check out