Business architects are largely on the wrong track. They are focused on how to create a well-structured business architecture instead of how to create well-architected organizations. What is our mission, our goal? It isn’t to build a blueprint of the organization and it isn’t to describe our organization’s operating model in terms of capabilities and processes. Our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to architect organizations for long-term success and sustainability. That requires much more than capability maps and value streams. At a minimum, it requires an engaged and motivated workforce.
In my last blog I talked about how an amazing non-profit, called the Wonderfund, used contemporary business tools to completely reinvent itself. As a result, there were 3 key takeaways that I believe all non-profit organizations could benefit from knowing.
Which is more important to your organization’s success: people, process, technology, or information? Yes, I know, they are ALL important but the question is which is most important. Hopefully your answer is “people”, but do you really believe it? I see process centric architectures, technology centric architectures, and capability centric architectures. What I don’t see however are people centric architectures. The question is why? If people are our most valuable resource, if they are the most important element in business success, then why aren’t we placing them at the core of our architectural efforts?
An enterprise organizational chart of the entire management team. I assume most of you have this or at least can get a view from your HR department. Organizational charts are easy to create but don’t offer much value from an architectural perspective.
A function model. Similar to an organizational chart but listing the functions performed by each team. Once you have this, it is fairly easy to map to your capability and value stream models.
A competency model. While a function model describes what people do to fulfill the mission, the competency model describes what people are capable of doing. This seems essential to me when designing change initiatives but we seem to totally ignore potential in all of our models.
A network diagram. A network diagram describes how people (or functions) in the organization communicate outside of the formal process structure. You might also think of this as a relationship diagram depicting the informal relationships among individuals and teams.
A context model. A context model describes the way the organization is designed to work and might include such items as values, management style, incentive systems, motivation efforts, and the external and internal pressures currently being exerted on the organization.
A culture model. A culture model describes how the organization really does work. Sometimes it is working as designed but most often it is not. Everyone knows how powerful culture can be but almost no one has a model that helps them understand what their culture means to change initiatives.
The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________
Building a people centric architecture, or at least having a strong people centric view within your architecture, will be the defining element of business architecture success in the future.
Perhaps one of the toughest jobs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is being a Child Welfare Social Worker for the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Servicing over 50,000 children at any point during the year (a number which is sadly growing) this organization is responsible for looking after our state’s most vulnerable children.
I’ve been thinking about the business architecture profession – where we are and where we want to go. We have been at this for at least ten years with a lot of struggle and a little success. I think it is time we reflect on where we’ve been, where we are currently headed, and where we might like to go. This is the fifth post in the series, “Reimagining Business Architecture”. The ideas expressed here are meant to stir thought in the community and I would definitely like to hear yours. Post a comment or email me at: Jeff.Scott@accelare.com.
Author’s note about this post. I am NOT promoting my definition or any other specific definition of business architecture. I simply want you to think about what definition of business architecture will make you the most successful.
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper once said the most dangerous phrase in the English language is “we’ve always done it this way.” The reality is that there are many processes and structures in a business organization that exist the way they are simply because someone set them up that way and they were never changed. There are many examples of this: approval processes with unnecessary levels of approvers and mainframe screens for operational systems are just two instances.
Few people would deny the increasing linkage between man and machine. The relentless “Information Revolution” has given rise to Artifical Intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies, capable of mimicking — to some degree — intricate human traits, such as, thinking, creativity and problem-solving.
I’ve been thinking about the business architecture profession – where we are and where we want to go. We have been at this for at least ten years with a lot of struggle and a little success. I think it is time we reflect on where we’ve been, where we are currently headed, and where we might like to go. This is the fourth post in the series, “Reimagining Business Architecture”. The ideas expressed here are meant to stir thought in the community and I would definitely like to hear yours.
Post a comment or email me at: Jeff.Scott@accelare.com.
Have you heard this one?
Three business architects walk into a bar. They order drinks and begin arguing various approaches of pursuing business architecture in their respective companies. Overhearing their discussion, the bartender asks them, “What is this business architecture stuff?” Three hours later the architects are drunk and the bartender is confused.
Three factors drive the variation in business architecture definitions:
1. The business architect’s experience. Each business architect comes to the discipline with a different background and set of experiences. Enterprise architects look at business architecture as an extension of enterprise architecture with its blueprints and standards. Process management professionals see business architecture as a composite of the organization’s processes. Architects with business backgrounds see it as a problem solving and decision making approach. Perhaps even more importantly, since business architecture is very likely new to their organization (and to the architect herself) they bring a lot of who they are into the practice design. The more introverted, analytical business architects might focus more on modeling or process analysis while the more extroverted and people centric business architect might focus more on solutioning through consulting.
2. Each organization is unique. The organization’s culture, design context, and political climate influence the approach to business architecture more than other roles. At the end of the day, succeeding at business architecture requires a wide collection of people at all levels of the organization coming to consensus on a direction and having the willingness to take action, often toward goals that might be good for the organization at large but not for them individually. Culture and politics are the most challenging aspects of practicing business architecture so it shouldn’t be surprising that business architects adapt their approaches to fit the reality on the ground.
3. The business architect’s perspective grows over time. When you look at successful business architecture practices over time you see significant shifts in the architect’s perspective on of what business architecture is about. Most business architecture initiatives begin by looking for quick wins – often cost savings in IT. They are very analytical and operations focused. As they mature, business architecture teams focus more on decision making, investments, and strategy execution. The most mature business architecture practices focus on strategy realization and organizational transformation. Where the architect is on this journey significantly influences his perspective of what business architecture is.
What would you change/add to this list? Please post your thoughts or send me a note. Jeff.Scott@Accelare.com
The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________
Business architects have yet to settle on an agreed upon common definition of their profession despite efforts from multiple professional organizations. Just how important is this?
Many younger employees in today’s workforce grew up with computers both at home and at school. They typically utilize the latest technology for their schoolwork and in their personal lives; therefore, it comes as a shock to them when they enter the workforce and must often relearn green screen technology that they thought they left behind twenty years earlier. In other words, they encounter their first workplace reality – businesses can use some incredibly archaic technology. Large corporations continue to use legacy systems for one primary reason – it still “works” and change is uncomfortable. Upgrading a major system can be daunting and can cause breaks in business continuity.
As a fan of the Subway cult classic “Chuck” I was intrigued as to how far away the technology featured in the show is. For those not familiar with the show’s premise, Chuck, played by Zachary Levi, is a Stanford dropout who opens an e-mail from his ex-roommate and all the National Security administration and CIA databases gets downloaded into his head. Fearing security risks, the CIA sends him a handler played by Yvonne Strahovski, to help the government make best use of the download known as the “Intersect.”