The title of this post is a bit of advice I first heard many years ago, while working on an Enterprise Architecture review of a troubled software development effort. Never waste a good crisis.
Of course, no crisis is good for the person going through it. Be compassionate. And I’m not talking about a personal crisis like the death of a loved one. I’m talking about a crisis in business, like when a company changes strategy leaving customers out in the cold, or when a new technology simply fails to deliver any value, leaving the champion with less buy-in from his business stakeholders.
These are the little crises of business. It often starts with someone taking a risk that doesn’t produce an hoped-for return. If that someone is a senior leader, and they are smart, they have already collected their bonus or promotion and moved on, so they won’t get the blow-back from their own failure. But just as often, the person who took a risk is still around to get hit with “blame and shame.”
Unhealthy as it is in a corporate environment, blame and shame is common. When something goes wrong, someone takes the fall.
But for an influencer like an Enterprise Architect, a crisis can be a good thing. Why? Because we are change agents. And people won’t change unless they are forced to change. John Kotter, in his book “Leading Change” suggests that one of the greatest obstacles to change is complacency. Change just isn’t urgent enough. He’s completely right, and a crisis is often what is needed to break through complacency. (more…)