Tag Archives: work

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 February 24th through April 2nd

m4s0n501

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.”

 

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? 

 

 

How do we get management conversations “on the same page”?

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

When we’re busy with our own little part of the world, it is sometimes difficult to notice how our colleagues in other parts of the business are getting on (or not), and easy to immerse ourselves in our own tasks and issues. It’s understandable, but makes it difficult to collaborate when we DO meet together because no-one truly comprehends what other parts of the business are doing, and communication is often lost in translation between the different “dialects” we speak in our own specialisations. Where do we get the business equivalent of the Rosetta Stone, or a Babel fish?

Since the business capability model describes in reasonable detail what every part of the business does it is a useful tool for directing conversations to views of the business which are unambiguous, understandable and consistent with the business intent, or DNA. When supplemented by various heatmap analyses (e.g. competitive differentiators, where investments are made, skill requirements etc.) the capability model can focus people’s attention on the important things, and give them a vocabulary that underpins shared understanding. The model itself usually fits on a single page, so it literally becomes the “same page” for all to be reading from. 

 

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, how we compete, how we manage.

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

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

 

 

How can we improve our business design?

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

How can we improve our business design: how we structure, how we compete, how we manage?

One of the initial tasks an enterprise architect can undertake is the discovery and documentation of the business’ DNA – any existing mission statements, strategy documents and long-term plans. The purpose of the exercise is to determine the business INTENT – broad, high-level statements about the markets, products and services that will (and won’t) be targeted; and what will make this business different.

Depending on the management maturity in the organisation, this set of information may or may not exist in an easily-accessible form. Some of it may not exist in some formal sense at all, and on inspection the stated intent may not be what is being actioned in reality. This exercise alone may prompt some projects to (re-) establish the business intent in a form that all participants can subscribe to, and that creates a useful launching pad for enterprise architecture.

When the compiled DNA is combined with a capability model, any mismatch or misalignment between the intent and the reality can be highlighted – again prompting improvements to the business design. 

  

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?

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?