I was a participant in a recent survey facilitated by the Corporate Executive Board’s Enterprise Architect community forum regarding “How do you reward failure?” My response to the survey triggered a bunch of emails from other members to me noting how much they liked my response so I thought it might be worthy to share on my blog.
I've played various portfolio management roles here in Microsoft ranging from portfolio management to project delivery in Business organizations and Business Support organizations. The roles I’ve performed are Portfolio Manager, Business Architect, Enterprise Solution Architect, Solution Architect, Program Manager, and Project Manager. Each of these roles have responsibilities to encourage/reward failure early in the lifecycle of any project. The assumption I have for rewarding failure is to encourage canceling in-flight projects that won’t deliver the intended business value and save the organization time and money to re-invest in projects that deliver greater business value. Here’s how I’ve done it:
I’d like to add something here. I don’t think that every org should have a standard set of roles that are copy’n pasted from some industry team model. Each company and organization within a company will have a very different situation than another. For example, one company may be in the throes of economic turmoil and require a focus on scaling down the infrastructure to reduce costs. In this example situation, an EA team may not need to have a dedicated title of “Enterprise Solution Architect”, “Solution Architect” or “Business Architect” but rather have the titles necessary to focus on the discipline that relates closest to the area being addressed; “Infrastructure Architect” in this example. Of course, all scale-down situations like this need a dash of the other Architecture disciplines to build out the related artifacts to ensure engineering rigor is performed. For example, a situation may not require a full-time Information Architect. Fine, however, the Architect roles that are full-time must perform a bit of information architecture rigor to build their artifacts. I suppose I’m just highlighting this to you so as not to fall into the trap of assuming each named architecture skill or discipline requires a dedicated architect title in an arch team or that if there isn’t a titled architect in the team, none of related artifacts are necessary.
Very well articulated, cancelling or killing the project / program early in the cycle is very important to save time and money for the Organization based on Business Strategy, Goal and Vision
Quick to fail and quicker to recover gives agility to business. As well said "A stitch in time saves nine"