In a 1995 interview, Steve Jobs said at every stage of Apple whether he was in his garage or later at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, being successful required vision and execution. Not all of us have the innate abilities of a Steve Jobs and need some help. Not long ago, the tools of strategy and execution were only available in large companies or from consultants. That’s no longer true.
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.
There is a great amount of energy from business architecture community groups
and various pundits to establish the one, the only, highly wordsmithed, industry standard, TRUE, business architecture definition. The successful business architecture community is ignoring these efforts for the most part by trying to create descriptions that actually reflect what they do and the value they create. Before, we jump to a well-crafted definition we should give some thought to what business architecture is and what it is we are trying to accomplish with it. Is it a product (i.e. blueprint), a profession, a function, an approach, or something else entirely? What are the salient elements of a business architecture effort?
Here are at least some of business architecture’s foundational elements.
1. Business architects create broader perspectives. Business architects’ primary role is to create broader perspectives. Most business architects will talk about this as creating an enterprise perspective but that isn’t completely accurate. Informing IT leaders of all the technology the organization owns before buying additional technology is creating a broader perspective for those decisions. Helping one business unit understand how it might leverage the capabilities of another business unit or how its actions might impinge on another unit is another example of creating broader perspective. Creating broader perspective might also go beyond the enterprise in the cases of marketplace, competitive, and new innovations perspectives.
2. Business architects provide “objective” analysis. Much of the day-to-day work of business architects is collecting data, organizing it, and analyzing it to understand what it means. This can be anything from project investments to strategic plans. Though most business architects struggle to be objective, I do see this as their ultimate goal.
3. Business architects facilitate complex problem solving. Business architects apply what they have learned through creating broader perspectives and business analysis to supply information to complex problem solving. They also provide tools, techniques, and facilitation to help business leaders arrive at and agree on solutions.
4. Business architects clarify strategy. Business architects clarify their organization’s strategic intent by looking at both aspirational strategic statements and day to day tactical reality. They clarify, expand, structure, and illuminate strategic intent to make it consumable across the organization. Business architects use this illumination to help translate corporate strategic intent into aligned, focused, and targeted action at the business unit and department levels.
5. Business architects design strategy execution. While few business architects are meaningfully involved in creating corporate business strategy they do play a significant role in how that strategy gets translated into business unit operational strategy and tactical action. For most successful business architecture practices, this is their ultimate goal.
6. Business architects research new business alternatives. Advanced business architects apply their perspective building, problem solving, and business analysis skills to explore new business opportunities. This might be in the form of more efficient ways to structure the organization’s operational work but it also includes applying current capabilities in innovative ways, identifying new capabilities to build, and envisioning new products and services for business leaders to consider.
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 architecture is much more than a set of “blueprints”. To clearly describe who we are, we must first explore what we do and what we want to accomplish even if these are aspirational at this point.
Twenty-five years ago, the Iron Curtain came down and many countries in Europe regained their independence. In 1991, Estonia emerged from communist rule with an incredibly limited and backwards infrastructure. Within the country at that time, only half of the households had phones and there was only one line that went out of the country that only the foreign minister could access. In just over a two-decade period, their turnaround has been astonishing and they have become one of the world’s leading tech countries. And they never looked back.
I’ve been thinking about the business architecture profession – where we are and where we want to go. Though the concept of business architecture arose in the late 1990s it was really just ten years ago that we started to see practices start up and the initial ideas for the profession get defined. After a decade of progress (and struggle) it is a good time for some taking stock and reflecting on what we have accomplished and where we go from here. Here is my take on one reason business architecture is moving so slowly.
Business architecture has generated a lot of interest. Enterprise architects, business analysts, management consultants, process engineers and a host of others have resonated with business architecture concepts. However, there is a huge gap between business architecting and starting a business architecture practice. Many people want to be business architects and most have the ability to succeed if they apply themselves. There are also a growing number of educational resources for the aspiring business architect. Unfortunately, there are very few places you can go to learn how to start, manage, and grow a business architecture practice and almost no education for business architecture leaders.
The reality is that your biggest challenge to becoming a professional business architect isn’t learning business architecture skills, it is finding a successful business architecture practice to work in. Why is this? I think at least part of the reason is that most people interested in business architecture don’t have the skills or inclination to start a practice while most of those with the right skills are drawn to more visible roles. Here are some of the skills and attributes you need to start and manage a successful business architecture practice:
1. First and foremost, you must be culturally and politically savvy. Culture and politics remain the number one challenge for business architecture startups. Business architecture rarely aligns with the organization’s status quo of low quality strategic communication, silo decision making, politically driven funding mechanisms, and cultures that discourage cooperation. And every organization has its political challenges. If you can’t manage the politics and culture, you won’t succeed at managing a business architecture practice.
2. You must have a vision. Starting a business architecture practice is a little like building a bridge as you walk on it. You have to know where you are going. I find it fascinating that business architects who focus largely on business strategy and roadmaps don’t apply these tools to themselves. For over a decade I have been talking about business architecture as an innovation. Innovators are visionaries. They know where they are going even if they don’t know how they will get there. They need strategies and roadmaps.
3. You must have robust influencing skills. This includes marketing and selling. It is unlikely that senior management is going to initiate a business architecture program and put you in charge. You have to sell the idea to them and then be a good enough influencer to convince other business leaders to use your services. No one, let me repeat, no one, is going to tell senior managers to follow your lead. You have to create followers.
4. You must be a risk taker. Sixty percent of new business architecture initiatives fail. Senior managers in your organization are not clamoring for business architecture. There are no templates for success. You have to find your own way and that means taking professional risks.
5. You have to be flexible. Successful business architecture leaders know they cannot force “industry standards” on their organizations and that they will often have to compromise with their clients. Pure business architecture may exist in books and classes but not in the real world. There, pragmatism and flexibility are what drive successful business architecture practices.
6. You need a fair amount of ambition and tenacity. Starting a business architecture practice is not for the faint of heart. For most it will be a difficult, painful, frustrating experience. You will likely have many failures before reaching success and even then your life will be precarious. Until business architecture becomes a well-know and sought after function by senior business managers you will have to endlessly “sell” business architecture and yourself.
Learning business architecture skills is easy. But starting and managing a business architecture practice is much, much harder. In many ways the attributes needed to manage a practice are totally different from the skills needed to be a good business architect.
I’ve been thinking about the business architecture profession – where we are and where we want to go. Though the concept of business architecture arose in the late 1990s it was really just ten years ago that we started to see practices start up and the initial ideas for the profession get defined. After a decade of progress (and struggle) it is a good time for some taking stock and reflecting on what we have accomplished and where we go from here.
Business architects know a lot about the details of their role - modeling, road mapping, etc. But what do we know, and perhaps more importantly agree on, about the larger world of the business architecture community around us? If we are to successfully move forward, we need to have a pretty good understanding of where we are today. Here are 11 things I believe to be true about our profession. I may be incorrect and am certainly incomplete so I invite you to post the things you think are true and to challenge any of my perceptions you think are wrong.
The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________
Business architecture is a great concept that has yet to move into the mainstream. In our first ten years we have seen some anecdotal successes but as a profession we are still struggling. What will it take to move us forward to a highly recognized and sustainable profession?
As a Scrum Master, are you having trouble keeping your team focused on the task-at-hand and cooperating with each other? Being a Scrum Master is no easy task; however, I have learned that having the right skills makes the job much easier. Throughout my experience, I have found that facilitating good communication among my team members has been the most important part of our success. The ability to listen to others while speaking honestly about any expectations can truly help build team cooperation.
As the year comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about the business architecture profession – where we are and where we want to go. Though the concept of business architecture arose in the late 1990s it was really just ten years ago that we started to see practices start up and the initial ideas for the profession get defined. After a decade of progress (and struggle) it is a good time for some taking stock and reflecting on what we have accomplished and where we go from here.
In my last blog, Making the Business Case for Platform Change, I highlighted the importance of assessing the implicit cost of not delivering on future-state Capabilities. This analysis should consist of comparing how well both the current and to-be platforms deliver on the entire HR Capability value chain.
In the last couple of blogs, we introduced a 5 Step Process helping firms to build a unique Customer Value Profile for their enterprise. In this blog, we will dive into the third step in the process where we align your firm to the unique set of Customer Experience Factors in your industry by constructing a Customer Value Map. This ensures that your organization focuses on what is important to your customer, avoids head to head competition with competitors driving down price, and allows you to minimize effort on areas not important to your customer.
As Business Architects progress through the Strategy to Execution methodology they eventually arrive at a point where they must create projects to close the capability gaps they have identified. WorkFit enables users to create new project proposals within an existing project portfolio or simply add the new project in the idea pool.