This is one of the analogies I created [listed in EA analogies] to explain particular type of EA role in an organization, set expectations and explain EA services to the management. It worked surprisingly well as I preseted it many times to top managers and larger audiences.
A bit of the background story first. When I joined the company I promoted the value of information for decision makers and having EA as a partner providing relevant, unbiased and timely information. Specifically, information about what consequences and options there are when changing a piece of an enterprise.
I crafted a story based on local recent events, where I explained the role of EA on an analogy of a consumer advocacy organization ( such as “which?” [UK], “Stiftung Warentest” [Germany], “dTest” [Czech Republic], “Choice” [Australia] and other). This was the story from Czech Republic to make my point:
Just recently dTest assessed selected ketchup products on the market, from well-known brands to “cheap” brand products of store chains. Surprise surprise, it became obvious that some of them met tomatoes only from a distance, some contained quite some artificial ingredients or even marks of small living nature. Now, dTest has neither the authority to ban these products nor it can in any way forbid customers to buy them. Nevertheless, the power of information and transparency leads to a change anyway. First of all, customers realized what they were eating and changed their brand preference or even their eating habits. Second of all, chain stores such as Billa or Tesco and others reacted as well, either by dismissing the product from their offering since ‘it’s not aligned with the quality level the company wants to offer to their customers”, or simply by not calling it a ketchup, but a “tomato-based sauce” instead. You can guess who did what:)
I built up the EA function in the organization in a very similar sense. EA provided information to decision makers on investments. Once it practically proved that the information is actually useful and it helps to make sense of the possible solutions, especially their fundamental implications, decision makers started actively seek the information. Once there’s demand for the information, EA function has much easier job putting methods & tools in place to get the information. There’s plenty of ways how to use this demand to drive change in the organisation even without formal authority. Later on also projects got on board and requested EA assistance so they could build solutions that have an easy way through decision-making processes, which is of huge value to project managers.
Here is just a small sketch to underline the mechanism (for architects, not managers:).