Tag Archives: strategy

Interesting stuff from August 8 to May 13

After too long a break, we return with the periodic roundup:

  • Bringing order to complexity – Paradoxically, “simple” is hard, and “complicated” is easy. We often end up with complicated business processes not because they are dealing with a complex problem, but because we haven’t taken enough time to design them properly. Design thinking, particularly human-centred design, is offered as an approach that applies multiple perspectives to the problem to understand the implications (upstream and down) of any changes made. One key suggestion: separation of process steps from the business rules being applied, which increases the re-useability of both. This is the stuff of business architecture …
  • Why Meetings Are Often Ineffective – Meetings have (quite rightly) garnered a bad reputation over time, mainly because they are used for the wrong reasons most of the time. Have you ever wondered why we often only schedule interruptions to our work, not the work itself? In this post, Johnnie Moore describes meetings as “action theatre” and “commitment ceremonies” where “we sit for too long, arguing with what we think is great cleverness when in fact our rational brain is already worn out and running on empty”. Fortunately he also has a couple of ideas about how we can make them better and more effective.
  • Business Models in Business Architecture – A very useful attempt from Nick Malik to describe the distinctions between business DNA (values, mission, etc.), business strategy, business models and business capabilities … as well as the relationships between them. Of particular value is the recognition that enterprises that are non-trivial in scale will often have multiple business models, each with its own strategy; and that these strategies may not co-exist happily. This is a problem when senior people don’t understand the interactions between business models and their related strategies, because it leads to turf wars, confused prioritisation and no idea what capabilities could be shared. This also is the stuff of business architecture …
  • Party politics is slowly dying. So what will take its place? – While the locale for this piece is the UK, Australia’s major political parties should take note, as the symptoms are similar here. We can recognise thoughts like “ … describes a draining away of authority from the main western parties, which, since the end of the cold war, have become increasingly bland: dangerously similar when it comes to ideology, and incorrigibly controlling” and “The mainstream politicians have forgotten that they are here to represent, not govern … We’re sick of being lied to”. The article describes the rise of single-issue movements, something increasingly echoed here in Australia. If the major parties seek a return to relevance, perhaps they should pay more attention to what issues people engage with, and “represent” rather than “govern”.
  • A Corporate Coup in Disguise | Alternet – Despite some raucous objections in the small, the TPP hasn’t hit the public’s consciousness to any great extent. This is partly due the excessive secrecy that cloaks its discussions, but also to the seeming lack of interest from the general public. This article, although slanted to the US, suggests there’s a number of reasons we should be paying attention, and why we shouldn’t let it happen …


Interesting stuff from February 24th through April 2nd

The periodic round up:

  • Every Employee Should Work From Home – David Heinemeier Hansson: “[Face time is] far less important as a tool of getting things done. Managers vastly overestimate it’s efficiency because it’s their job to interrupt people. But everyone else knows that being pulled into endless meetings is toxic and makes progress harder.” Remote working is topic du jour, it seems … but it’s true that the office isn’t always where you get work done. 
  • How Google Is Using People Analytics to Completely Reinvent HR – Not entirely surprising that Google takes a data-heavy approach to its HR – it IS after all its raison d’être. Will be interesting to see how it holds up over time, but I suspect that results are better than most subjective hiring decisions.
  • “The Art Of Not Sucking” – Hugh McLeod’s recipe for a meaningful life? Learning how NOT to suck … this is the place to go for real advice on success – defining it as well as achieving it. You might recognise Hugh as the source of my favourite cartoons too 
  • The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case – The potentially far-reaching effects of the charges laid against Manning for his Wikileaks whistle-blowing represent a threat to some of the USA’s constitutional freedoms, and arguably an Al Quaeda victory more substantially damaging than 9/11
  • Death To Core Competency: Lessons From Nike, Apple, Netflix | Fast Company – “Sticking to the knitting” was the mantra; finding your key competency was essential to competing well … but is that too limiting? The Nike experience suggests that disrupting yourself is preferable to having disruption done to you: “You can’t have a barrier or restriction to that core competency. If we constrain ourselves by a circle of competency, we’ll do ourselves a disservice.”


Interesting stuff from January 7th through February 18th

The periodic round up:

  • IT as Manufacturing – Commoditisation, modularisation and small bets … this is a long way from “IT as we know it”, but right where it should be (even if it DOES upset a few large vendors :) )
  • How is social business like urban traffic? – Stowe Boyd again exploring the benefits of subordinating personal productivity to network productivity, drawing parallels with research into traffic management that indicates that forcing drivers to think more selflessly (and not seek the most personally efficient outcomes) actually improves traffic flow. So too, at work we may be collectively better-performed if we think less of our personal productivity and more of our network’s.
  • Alain de Botton’s 10 Commandments – for Atheists – Is religion required for morality? Atheists would contend not, and de Botton’s list is a good start for developing /nurturing our morality independent of a belief in gods … “We are holding on to an unhelpfully sophisticated view of ourselves if we think we are above hearing well-placed, blunt and simply structured reminders about goodness. There is greater wisdom in accepting that we are in most situations clunking and rather simple machines, with only a few moving parts and in want of much the same firm, basic guidance as is naturally offered to children and domestic animals. ”
  • America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead – An interesting, and somewhat disturbing look at what lead has done to society, and still is. It’s probably not the whole story, but the statistics suggest it’s a large part of it … and there’s still plenty of petrol-related lead in our soil, and still plenty of old places with lead paint.
  • Why IT Should Be on the CEO’s Agenda – Is enterprise architecture’s time about to arrive? Now economic observers are beginning to notice that just thinking seriously about IT isn’t enough – there has to be a bridge between the CEO and IT’s strategic potential. Enter the enterprise architect. As this article says: “Enterprise architecture can be understood as a change and transformation framework to provide open and flexible business architecture for change management under conditions of high uncertainty.”


EA Metamodel Update (Number three and counting!)

Well, I think it has improved – I prefer the treatment of governance now, and packaging a multiplicity of business capabilities into a business system (more in the “systems thinking” meaning than in the “IT system” sense) gives a clearer picture of how they string together with both end-to-end business processes (think Order to Cash or similar) as well as lower-level sub-processes contained within capabilities.

EA Metamodel v0.3

EA Metamodel – click to enlarge

As much as I’d like to, I’m not sure there’s “space” left in the diagram to display the idea of business services, which can be useful for describing boundaries for top-down vs. bottom-up process change, technical services (as in Service-Oriented Architecture), and data/process stewardship decisions. That service boundary definition exercise is much clearer on the Business Capability Model; trying to do it here may be mixing abstract and concrete concepts.

A note about the placement of governance: it’s more than just the policing of rules. Governance is about making sure that the business design delivers on the business intent, and that starts with the design constraints and framework derived from the business intent. So it’s part of the original business design exercise, as well as the ongoing monitoring and development of the design’s execution. That’s why I’ve placed it as a central plank of the model – it’s hard to deliver a business design without the ground rules embodied in a governance framework.

As a reminder: this is “standing on the shoulders of giants” – my earlier posts credit the more theoretically robust models this is derived from – this metamodel is designed to lead conversations with C-suite executives about what enterprise architecture is, and where it fits with their work at a strategic level. When it comes to actually doing this stuff, more detailed tools are more useful.

As always – comments and criticisms welcome (did I really say that?) :)


helicopters and metamodels take 2

As I threatened, I’ve had another attempt at the enterprise architecture metamodel (model of models) that I started earlier. I think it’s an improvement, but I’m still not satisfied – I’m not completely happy with the way I’ve placed the governance … but it’ll come to me! 

EA Metamodel v0.2

Hopefully I’ve made it clear that the business intent drives business design, and specifically that the business model predominantly sets the capability and people requirement and that the operating model sets the scene for business processes by determining the level of process standardisation and integration across business units.

The business intention sets the governance framework, which is then in place to monitor the execution of the business design.

As I mentioned earlier, this represents my synthesis of work done by others, specifically the Enterprise Business Motivation Model from Nick Malik, the Business Model Generation material from Osterwalder and Pigneur, and Enterprise Architecture as Strategy from Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill and David Robertson (see the foundations of the operating model idea in this PDF document, registration required). 

This is a “helicopter” level view – meant as a consulting and conversation guide for senior managers to help them place enterprise architecture appropriately in their strategic thinking. When it comes to actually doing the design work involved in getting value from enterprise architecture, a framework such as Fragile to Agile’s Integrated Architecture Framework is a natural progression from this diagram, usually teamed with some consultation to help you (re-) design your business (end shameless plug!).


If you’d like to talk some more, contact us.


How do we handle change?

[One of a series of posts posing questions that enterprise architecture can answer]

How do we handle change, whether we’re making it ourselves or it’s being imposed on us by the business environment?

Change is a business constant. On any given day, a business can look around and say “We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto”. Whether it’s an internal change in direction, market or product mix; or whether it’s regulatory change; or disruptive changes in the market from existing or new players … we WILL have to deal with change. How can enterprise architecture help?

Start with creating a business capability model. Then define boundaries around functions, or groups of functions that form clear services that the business provides internally or externally. At this stage, by ignoring HOW these functions are performed (business processes) and by WHOM (organisational structure), it is possible to see potential for different combinations of those services to form new products, service offerings or complete businesses. It is easier to see where to invest or divest, what can be outsourced, multi-sourced or brought back in-house, as changing circumstances demand. The popular term for this currently is agility, and it comes from seeing what the business does as modular services. 


If you’d like to talk some more, contact us.


Other questions in the series:

Business design: how can we improve our business design – how we structure it, how we compete, how we manage it.

Investing: how can we ensure that we invest to our best business advantage?

Management conversations: how can we ensure that internal management discussions use a common language and understanding of the business?

How do we know we’re getting value from our IT investment?



How can we invest to business advantage?

[One of a series of posts posing questions that enterprise architecture can answer]

How can we ensure that we invest time, money and resources to our best business advantage?

In most businesses, it’s not a shortage of good ideas to pursue or problems to fix that is the issue – it’s deciding which are the most critical that causes difficulty. Discussions about which projects to fund are often hijacked by vested interests, rather than being driven by what is important to the organisation. How can you avoid that?

This is one of the most important results of defining and documenting the business intent, the organisation’s DNA. With a clear, shared strategic view of WHY the business exists, it is easier to direct investment effectively. Likewise a clear view of the current state of play with people, process and systems; a vision of the preferred future state of play; and a strategic roadmap to bridge the gap will all inform the prioritisation process. The future vision is driven by the business capability model, and the strategic analyses that it enables. All of these things are outputs of an enterprise architecture engagement – would they be useful to your organisation? 


If you’d like to talk some more, contact us.


Other questions in the series:

Change: how do we handle change, whether we’re making it ourselves or it’s being imposed on us by the business environment?

Business design: how can we improve our business design – how we structure it, how we compete, how we manage it.

Management conversations: how can we ensure that internal management discussions use a common language and understanding of the business?

How do we know we’re getting value from our IT investment?