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Inject animal spirits back into SOA with small teams (no more than seven members)

Are we finally returning to basics with SOA? Maybe with the recent "SOA is dead" shock therapy, along with the rise of Enterprise 2.

Are we finally returning to basics with SOA? Maybe with the recent "SOA is dead" shock therapy, along with the rise of Enterprise 2.0 and cloud computing thinking, there's recognition that service orienting needs to be fast and agile, injecting value into the business where it is needed the most at a given time. That's the original essence of SOA, if you will.

On a practical level, we need to do away with large, unwieldy groups that only end up working at cross-purposes, and rev up innovation through lightweight, entrepreneurial teams -- no more than seven members per team.

That's the view of Software AG's Miko Matsumura, who has been thinking about these approaches for some time. (And is also a neuroscientist by training). I recently had the opportunity to do a podcast Q&A with Miko, who elaborated on the idea that innovation occurs on a much greater scale when problems and opportunities are approached as smaller teams working at a common purpose. (Listen to the podcast here, or read the transcript here.)

SOA needs to be repurposed, to bring all the "tribes" that exist across a typical enterprise into a common purpose, while retaining their independence, Miko says. Tasks with managing large, unweildy IT projects, such "tribes" end up working at cross-purposes -- splitting into divisions, business units, functional units, geographic units, and platform units -- such as Java, Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP professionals.

The rise of cloud computing -- and a movement to return to the basics of SOA -- have given rise to a sense of excitement, that changes in the organization can be driven by small, highly focused teams.As Miko puts it:

"Some of these tribes in IT have experienced enough attrition that they've actually been reduced to small team size again. So, just attrition and loss of head count has reduced the bulkiness, and the bureaucracy, and the heavy weightiness of enterprise IT to the point where they are once again lean and mean, and looking for solutions."

So, for maximum SOA success, keep it small, keep it lightweight, and keep those animal spirits alive and thriving -- even in the most rigid enterprises.