Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Managing conflict at work

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Conflict at work often appears when competent people come to challenge the status quo, the inertia, amongst other reasons.

Also a factor is the poor organisation of the enterprise with confusing roles and overlaying responsibilities that create tension in decision making and execution since it is unclear who is in charge and who is accountable. The confusion and ensuing conflict seep down the organisation, eroding its foundations.

The divorce between responsibility and accountability is lethal. Accountable is the role in charge of the deliverable, be it success or failure, while responsible is the role who actually delivers.

For instance, a Project Manager is typically accountable while the Chief Architect is responsible. Since the PM is an administrator, the PM's accountability is not a guarantee of success because the role does not have enough professional insight. After all, the architect is the expert. But, frequently, in practice, in case of success the PM takes the spoils, while in failure, the architect takes the blame.

To succeed, a senior role should be both responsible and accountable.

Leading by committee ensures too a deadly lack of accountability.

Normally, the greater good of the company should prevail. But I was surprised to see how many times people chose to solve conflict only to gratify their own egos at the expense of the company.

The presence of conflict indicates a cultural problem that, if not resolved, evolves to the increasing detriment of the enterprise. The culture illustrates and determines the typical ways things are done in an enterprise.

Conflict often degenerates to fighting if tolerated by management, deliberately or otherwise. Hence, it must be tamed early by balancing the interest of the parties involved in the spirit of the enterprise good.

While individuals can be taught to treat conflict objectively rather than emotionally, it is practically impossible to do that at the enterprise level.

Leadership is the determinant factor though in preventing conflict and in-fighting because the leaders determine the higher goal that unites and, to a great degree, the culture of cooperation and mutual respect. They establish the organisation and the governing rules and promote the right people that inspire respect reducing hence the potential of conflict.

To be effective, leaders should lead by example rather than speeches because followers do what they do rather than what they say.

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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