Enterprise Initiatives

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I just finished reading a great book called Kiss Theory Good Bye by Bob Prosen which preaches focusing on the basics for driving company results. Bob has turned around numerous organizations throughout his career by following the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principles. In his book he gives 5 habits that cripple a company (Prosen, 2007, p.6):

  1. Absence of clear directives
  2. Lack of accountability
  3. Rationalizing inferior performance
  4. Planning in lieu of action
  5. Aversion to risk and change
These same principles should hold true for your SOA initiative as well. Let me explain.

Absence of clear directives - You should clearly define what your objectives are, what your roadmap is, and how you plan to get there. Just saying "we are implementing SOA" is not enough. SOA is an evolution, not a project. Implementing SOA is a journey made up of many individual projects. Set realistic goals.

Lack of accountability - The death of many big initiatives is a lack of strong executive sponsorship. Identify a sponsor (CIO, CFO, CTO, business partner, VP of IT, etc.) and help that person hold the organization accountable for delivering SOA. Everyone's goals and objectives should reflect contributions to the various SOA related projects. Create the appropriate incentives and attract the change agents.

Rationalize inferior performance - Don't tolerate mediocrity. You should have your "A" players working on these projects. If the work isn't getting done don't make excuses like "we don't have the skill set" or "lots of companies struggle". Identify the issues and resolve them immediately. Remember, part of your sales pitch to management was agility. Don't let problems fester for long.

Planning in Lieu of action - Don't jump into development. Think things through. Governance is a critical success factor for delivering and maintaining SOA. Implementing governance is a project in itself. Don't under estimate training. You may even need to change your organizational structure. Invest the time in change management throughout the project.

Aversion to risk and change - Don't stick to the old ways of delivering software. SOA works best when using an agile approach to development. Take a holistic view of the enterprise. You are no longer delivering silo applications. Now you need to think about the entire organization, your customers, and your partners. Testing is a whole new ball game. Don't even dream about applying the normal testing methods to SOA testing.

If you are a member of senior management within IT or any part of the business, I highly recommend the book. The KISS principles apply to all aspects of business. Focus on what's really important, don't bite off more then you can chew, align your initiative with the business's needs, and have fun doing it!


Prosen, B. (2007). Kiss theory good bye five proven ways to get extraordinary results in any company. Austin, TX: Distributed by Greenleaf Book Group.


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