Collaboration Under SOA: The Human Aspects

8.1.2 Research on the Impact of SOA in the Enterprise

During the business transformation toward a service-oriented enterprise, there are not just technical issues to consider, but also the impact it has on a company's operation and all involved people, as well as the way the enterprise operates on the global market and deals with their customers. The observations made are being published in scientific journals (for example, see the papers in the section "Business Aspects of Service-Oriented Thinking" in the IBM Systems Journal issue 44-4, http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj44-4.html). Furthermore, there are researchers working on related issues, finding new ways to govern "loosely coupled" enterprises and defining guides to smoothly and surely reach the set goals. In this context, we like to refer to Peter Weill and his team at Sloan School of Management at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and other researchers who recently published books and articles on this issue (see the reference list).

The academic disciplines involved do not limit themselves to a computer sciences or business focus, but extend to psychology, political sciences, and sociology, as these get fueled by ideas through the evolving Internet and its influence on nearly every society around the globe. The scientific results from studying groups of co-workers, individual behaviors within teams, and individual temperaments support the idea that a service-oriented organization is ideal.

There are several publications based on long-term observations that can be applied to how people cooperate within a service-oriented enterprise so that the goals of agility are reached. We also found several research results that can be best applied at a company based on SOA principles, as we have described in this book.

There is Meredith Belbin's research published in Management Teams. Belbin's work shows that teams perform best when there is a certain mixture of dedicated team roles. In numerous experiments, he proved that so-called A-teams won't deliver the best results, because in a team made up by alpha personalities (those who always score the highest as individuals and get the A marks in school), too much time and effort is lost to ranking fights rather than concentrating on the subject. In his books and publications, Belbin shows what constellation of team player types leads to the best results. In a service-oriented enterprise, the knowledge of those types can be stored as attributes in the enterprise repository. This lets a project manager staff the team not just with people who are educated in the requested areas and bring appropriate experiences with certain situations, but also helps to get the right combination of team players for a winning team.

Belbin offers a test for the team role types on his website.

In this context, it is worth mentioning the studies executed by Gallup over many decades. They are published in the book by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, Now, Discover Your Strengths. Based on millions of individual data and supported by real-life results from applying the knowledge about one's individual strengths to the personal records, the authors show that many people hide their talents instead of letting their strengths play for the team's and the company's benefit. Publishing these could also help staff teams to deliver services because each individual can get insight and knowledge about strengths and how one can best contribute to the team's success.

Personality traits are an important aspect for successful business operation as the results from research in psychology show. Philosophers, HR professionals, and especially psychologists around the globe have been interested in human stereotypes, in classifying people based on their temperaments to better understand individual drivers (what motivates you?) and reactions (why did you get so angry?). Some of the ideas are dated. In the 1980s, the psychologists David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates developed their temperament sorter and published it (1986) under the title Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types. Based on the temperament types, several tests, guidelines, and advice have been developed, all with the intention to clarify the individual personality. Better understanding other peoples' behaviors, feelings, and thinking processes can avoid friction among team members. Enlightenment can be an advantage for anybody working on teams. The knowledge about the individual temperaments is another key in staffing winning teams.

8.1.3 The Role of a Service-Oriented Architect

Team building in a service-oriented enterprise can happen in various ways. For SO-managers and SO-employees, empowered individuals ideally seek each other rather than have to be told to fill an explicit position in an organization chart. However, there are people in roles who are better at knowing the people and more capable than others at building a successful team. Those are addressed as people managers in the earlier section of this chapter.

Certainly, professional project managers, who are not just administrators, are predestined for staffing a project team. However, there is a need for translation between IT and the company business languages, a strong request for a role that spans wider than just solving IT issues for the enterprise. A person in this role has to know and cooperate with and within the executive management teams to develop the most suitable solutions.

This role takes on a certain mediator function, which we like to call the service-oriented architect, or a classical enterprise architect within a service-oriented enterprise. Best suited are persons who have been educated in IT and business administration, and probably equally important, who have the diplomatic talents to act as a mediator between both sides. This role becomes then the guarantor for the business transformation en route to the SOA-based company. It is a team play that involves change activists from almost every business unit to become successful.

This change does not end at the company gates. It goes far beyond, as individuals work from home, no longer penned up in corporate office buildings, or participate in business via the Internet from almost any place on Earth. In other words, this all is an all-embracing transition; a revolutionary movement that touches everything in everybody's daily lives, at work and certainly at leisure time, too.

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