Tag Archives: enterprise

Interesting stuff from July 12 to August 7

The periodic roundup:

  • Do Things that Don’t Scale – Technologist and venture capitalist Paul Graham with advice for start-ups (it IS his game, after all) … it’s the stuff that can’t be automated that makes a difference, so do that.
  • How Drucker Thought About Complexity – You could be forgiven for thinking that since Peter Drucker worked in a simpler time, his thinking might not apply in our more complex environments these days. You’d be wrong … check out what John Hagel III has to say (read it quickly – it’s a limited access HBR article)
  • Overcoming the Barriers to Enterprise Collaboration – All the time I’ve been involved with technology, people and organisations have been pre-occupied with technology as a “silver bullet”, the magical answer to their problem(s) – enterprise social/social business has been no different. This is a reasonably balanced view of enterprise social media, and where/how it might help with your collaboration efforts
  • Robert McNamara and the Dangers of Big Data at Ford and in the Vietnam War – “McNamara felt he could comprehend what was happening on the ground only by staring at a spreadsheet—at all those orderly rows and columns, calculations and charts, whose mastery seemed to bring him one standard deviation closer to God.” Big data can be a powerful tool, but sometimes what you really need is eyeballs on the ground, where people do real things … either that, or we all just become part of the body count


Interesting stuff from June 25th through July 31st


The periodic round up:

  • The future of outsourcing – A short and succinct piece on both the advantages and the dangers of outsourcing, and the implications of it for your business. And the importance of drawing the line in the right place:
    “Only a fool would outsource their heart or lungs by choice.”
  • Turn Big Data aspirations into business value – Big data is one thing; finding the business value in it is a bit harder – MIT’s Sloan Management Review suggests that
    “…a large percentage of stored data serves no useful purpose because management has not specified how it will be used: who will make what decisions or provide what services with what data.”
    Interestingly, the research suggests starting at the operational level rather than attempting analytics.
  • - The Obvious? – State Of The Net 2012 – Euan’s talk at State of the Net 2012 – a primer on not only what internal use of social media organisations can adopt, but a consideration of the implications of doing so for individuals.
  • Atlassian’s big experiment with performance reviews – My opinion of individual performance reviews is fairly well-known, and anecdotally well-supported. What has been missing, though, is a viable alternative to the process that most HR software supports. Atlassian found this too, but being software developers weren’t prepared to let that lie. They are not only hacking together a working alternative process, but are sharing it for our interest and education …
  • At Large in the Post-Normal Beyond Futurism – If you struggle with what we consider “normal” at the moment, you may have bigger problems with “post-normal”, and the ubiquity of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). Boyd considers what we might need to make sense of the world, and sees “speculative design” which considers “implications” as more important than “applications” of design




Interesting stuff from February 14th through February 16th

The periodic round up:

  • Adapt or Die? – My post on social media adoption and commitment … (I warned you)
  • Meetings: Where Work Goes to Die – We all hate them, but that's probably because we're doing them wrong. Here's some good ideas about effective meetings. The one I liked most? Make ALL attendees optional, and if nobody shows up, maybe they're right.
  • Does Airport Security Really Make Us Safer? – The questioning of billions of dollars on useless security theatre in out airports is going mainstream … the problem is overblown, the "solution" is expensive, and ineffective to boot.
    What works? Locking the cockpit door, matching luggage to passengers, passengers who will fight back. Best place to invest? Good old-fashioned intelligence and police work …
  • Why Oracle May Really Be Doomed This Time – It's become popular to start writing off the software dinosaurs – this is another recent crack at it, suggesting that Oracle will be done away with by a new generation of users and cloud/SaaS.
    It's a story that's been told before, but the conviction is increasing …
  • The End Of ERP – So what happens to monolithic ERP software in the age of service-based offerings? According to this guy (who has a vested interest, it should be said), they die …

Interesting stuff from July 30th through August 3rd

The weekly round up:

  • The mind is for having ideas not holding them – [Video] The “Getting Things Done” guy, David Allen, talking about creating clear space for your brain to do creative things. “Getting things done” isn’t about getting things done – it’s about making space in your head for more important things.  
  • When Employees Misinterpret Managers – “What gets measured gets done” – but you need to beware of unintended behaviours driven by poorly-thought-through metrics. And another caveat: managing by numbers only is a bit like painting by numbers: for amateurs and pre-schoolers.
  • Bored People Quit – And who gets bored quickest? Your smartest people. How do you stop them getting bored? Give them interesting tasks. What if I have no interesting tasks? Prepare for a slow and tedious extinction …
  • IT Outsourcing: How Offshoring Can Kill Innovation – A cautionary look at the dangers of outsourcing, particularly as it moves up the value chain from “grunt” work to “thinking work” – once you outsource your thinking, and your unique capabilities, you have no business. And as the interview points out, it’s broader than a single organisation – it means countries lose the infrastructure and network of suppliers in an industry, so the outsourcing becomes a continuing death spiral.
  • Empowering Leadership – Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean having a leader: “On teams that function well, every member of the team leads.  Each person takes responsibility for helping the team move forward.”
    Rather than trying to discover leaders, we should be developing leadership …
  • The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value – Michael Porter suggesting that there is a way to build economic value that provides societal value as well – it’s just that we might have to think outside of out-dated business models to achieve it: “The purpose of the corporation must be redefined as creating shared value, not just profit per se. This will drive the next wave of innovation and productivity growth in the global economy. It will also reshape capitalism and its relationship to society. Perhaps most important of all, learning how to create shared value is our best chance to legitimize business again. “
  • Hierarchy and Network: Two Structures, One Organization – Kotter makes the valid point that hierarchies are optimised for repetition, stability and efficiency. Which means they don’t change or adapt well. He explores the possibility of a simultaneous network structure to handle change … an idea that strikes me as unlikely in practice. What I CAN see happening is a continuous flux between network (for periods of change or instability) morphing into hierarchy, and then back again through the cycle. What I PREFER to see is network structures for operation, and hierarchy for administration – suit the structure to the purpose.


Interesting stuff from June 6th through June 16th

The weekly round up:


  • TEDx Talk on the Open Enterprise – “We live in democracies, but work in dictatorships” … a simple statement of the issue of HOW we work (particularly in Western economies) – the structures and practices of business are thousands of years old, and aren’t necessarily a good fit anymore. This contributes to an estimated 75% of workers (number is from the US, I believe) being disaffected and disengaged from their efforts. Do we REALLY think that 3/4 of the workforce under-performing against their own will is the best way of organising our companies?

  • Rory Sutherland makes a change – Every now and then, it’s good to be able to give bouquets to a bank, and not brickbats. Kudos to Westpac (in New Zealand – how about Aus!?) for doing something a little out of the ordinary – making it easy for customers to impulse SAVE, rather than impulse BUY … just hit the big red button.

  • Influence Measurement Optimization – There’s a lot of noise around social networks about “reach” and “influence”, as players like Klout and Peerindex attempt to translate numbers of followers/friends and the depth and breadth of conversation (and some other black magic) to estimate how much social currency you might be able to wield. Of course (as Google continually struggles with) any system of algorithmic ranking will get gamed, and (more subtly) just observing something changes what is observed …

  • Breakup of the euro? Is Iceland’s rejection of financial bullying a model for Greece and Ireland? – It’s clear that national sovereignty in the Eurozone is subservient to the interests of bankers – the EMU insists that the PIIGs should repay failed loans to speculators by mortgaging their economies for two generations. Iceland still has a sovereign currency, and so far has thumbed its nose to protecting private profits … do Ireland and Greece have the cojones to leave the Euro and re-establish currency sovereignty? The pain will be sharp, but will last two years (cf Argentina) rather than two generations.

  • Take your SharePoint implementation to the next level – In which it is demonstrated that it IS possible to turn a Sharepoint implementation into a social business tool … but it’s still lipstick on a pig. There’s a whole lot of good reasons for not using Sharepoint as your social tool of choice – and this is a pro-Sharepoint post! Biggest issue – Sharepoint is document-centric, not people-centric; it is structurally non-social. If you’re interested in Enterprise 2.0/Social Business, there’s a lot of stuff that works better – but hey! – it COULD work.

an architectural bent

Like most people who got interested in enterprise architecture, I came to it from an IT background – developing and deploying enterprise-style applications into business. My frustration, no doubt shared by most people on the same trajectory, became most noticeable when we started using service-oriented architecture in a couple of the applications we had developed ourselves … and the recognition that this was a very useful deployment framework not matched by most applications at the time; I went very quickly from an application-centric view of technology functionality to a more abstract architectural one.

For me, moving from a technical abstraction to a business one was almost immediate – building agility into the business itself was increasingly important to survive and thrive; the service-based business was even more important than the service-based provision of technology.

So – the hunt for knowledge began. And I noticed the same things as many others about what was out there: large, “boil the ocean” methodologies and frameworks that appeared to be little more than a checklist (albeit a useful one), or a method for creating a framework … very little of practical, day-one applicability for most businesses. It seemed almost a prerequisite that you had to spend years and millions before you had a tool that you could actually apply to making architectural changes to your business – a very long road to achieving value from enterprise architecture. It’s no wonder that some attempts at it ran out of energy before they were finished.

Fortunately, over time (and no doubt some failed projects) a more pragmatic viewpoint has surfaced from experienced practitioners, and either some more lightweight (but not necessarily  less rigorous; lighter in scope rather than depth) frameworks have surfaced, or experience has shown that it’s not realistic to expect to implement ALL the TOGAF elements before the business wants to see some results, and a lower-ceremony approach is starting to be seen. Without passing judgement on either, the titles of two I’ve come across give the sense at least that a phased or simplified approach to EA is on people’s minds: Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture Framework (PEAF) and the “Good enough architecture methodology“.

I have found another even closer to home: a local company [disclosure – I work with these folk from time to time. Putting my money where my mouth is, I guess] called Fragile to Agile who have developed a framework that can be applied consistently from the highest level of abstraction (business operating model, business capability model) through strategic project prioritisation all the way to system design and development – which means (subject to application at all levels) the framework can give traceability from a piece of code to the desired business outcome it supports, and identify any gaps in that support. The thing I like about it is that it isn’t necessary to implement the framework at all the lower levels to get value: a relatively short engagement can give the business an operating model decision and capability model that informs strategy discussions. From that point of demonstrated value, a client can choose to extend the framework to the next level of definition (e.g. “building codes” for application deployments), and so on down the stack.

Is it perfect? It isn’t as comprehensive as say, TOGAF – but that’s not a bad thing. Perfection, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder … in this case the client, who potentially sees value quickly and can build on that value iteratively and at a pace of their choosing. I doubt that it’s the only “practical” framework out there – as I noted earlier, EA is looking for shorter paths to value for its constituency.

It’s not too bad for me – I didn’t have to travel far to find an architectural approach that made sense and had a healthy serve of practicality to it – while the objectives (the “what”) of higher-ceremony ideas are great, the execution (“how”) can sometimes look like a “death march” project. My preference has always been for the agile, iterative approach to solving problems and building capabilities … Fragile to Agile isn’t called that by accident.