Caution workforce in the road!

What would your reaction be if the workforce in the road, fixing the road, did not have any tools or machines to do the job?

Frustration at the waste of time in the resulting traffic queue?

What would be your reaction if the washing machine repair man turned up without his tool kit, without a diagram of the appliance and without access to spare parts?

Refuse to pay the bill?

A security company providing security without enough staff

Questions in Parliament?

How is that so many Enterprise Architects can do their job without the tools of their trade?

Often Enterprise Architects are missing vital parts of their tool kit:

  • Standards
  • Principles
  • Reference architectures
  • Models of the Organisation
  • Application Landscape
  • Analysis and design tools
  • Information sources to feed the analysis tools
  • Stakeholder analysis

Worse than this they seem to lack the basic tools to be able to create the EA tools they need such as the processes to maintain the models, principles, guidance and governance.

Do you wonder why EA gets a bad name?

I am not suggesting that we go back to the old EA approaches

  • Boil the ocean documenting the current state
  • Tons of detailed standards (always out of date)
  • Heavy handed governance that increases costs,  misses deadlines and the point

And any of the other EA anti-patterns

Togaf 9.x of course points us at lots of artefacts and things to do, it is supposed to. We do not have to do them all, we can mix and match – What happens when we mix and match ourselves out of TOGAF9.x in all but name? Are we no longer doing architecture?

There are precedents for this situation:

SSADM was created and adopted, but everyone picked the bits they liked or could do. No one could afford to complete the whole SSADM – Especially with paper and pencil (there were few tools around).  SSADM became discredited; Every claim of compliance was subject to interpretation.

A similar thing happened to PRINCE.

I guess that there are many other examples of the dilution of the good practices until they are no longer effective.

Will this be the fate of TOGAF?

Are we architects no longer doing architecture?

Last week I attended the EA & BPM Conference in London. This is an interesting event covering the Holy Trinity of Enterprise Consulting; Enterprise Architecture, Business Process Management and Business Architecture (the key filling pulling this sandwich together).

This was the second year they have collocated the BPM Conference with the EA Conference and I think this makes for a really interesting mix. It also highlights the rise of BPM as a key function in the Enterprise. This was reflected in the exhibitors where BPM was a recurring theme on the majority of the stands. I found there was so much of interest that selecting a session was really tough over the course of the three days so I’ll highlight a few of my favourites.

Day one was a collection of seminars. I was intrigued by Alec Sharp’s Data Modelling seminar. Not for everyone Alec insisted on audience participation as he gradually built up his set piece of normalisation dance moves. Bizarre initially but I gradually found myself totally buying in to this. It’s a great way to reacquaint yourself with the various forms of normalisation. This was however a serious session providing tips and techniques for applying this ‘Misused Technique’. I’ll be laying out my diagrams in a more structured form and looking to apply ‘Guerilla Modelling’ where I encounter resistance to modelling in the future.

I was introduced to Blue Ocean Strategy during Jeff Scott’s Key Note on day three. He showed the use of the Strategy Canvas as a tool for developing strategy potentially making your competitors irrelevant. This was particularly interesting and BOS has been added to my reading list as a source of inspiration for my growing Business Architect’s toolkit.

For me the most challenging speaker, and also presentation attendee, was Michael Roseman. His constant reference to ‘Commodity BPM’ and ‘Cute’ ideas pushed you to think about the desired outcomes and values of your BPM initiative. Sure you need the fundamentals in place but conventional analysis and modelling techniques aren’t guaranteed to produce the innovation Enterprises need in today’s highly competitive and changeable environment. His classification of brainstorming as a child’s technique that is more often than not a hit and miss affair was great. He continued to explain that what’s needed is patterns for thinking and innovating that allow you to move towards a repeatable approach.

It was a great three days with an enormous amount of information and learning to be gained from both the presenters and in discussions with the exhibitors and attendees between the presentations. I’ve come away with new tools, techniques, ways of thinking and an even larger backlog of reading to cover. All I need is some time to sit down with a good book and a cold beer…

According to a Gartner survey presented at their EA summit in London the order of merit for the integration of EA into Business is:

1 Asia

2 South America

3 Europe

4 USA

It demonstrates that emerging economies and their developing organisations are more prepared to engineer and construct their businesses with help of the EA, than organisations in either the US or Europe.

I suspect that history is repeating itself – In the late 1970s Lean Manufacturing (Just in Time) had been developed by Toyota and had just been discovered by US businesses. Toyota, who had had a pressing need to catch up with the USA and Europe manufacturing, developed the processes originally started by Henry Ford.

In the face of competition from Japan in the 70s and 80s the US and Europe needed to catch up with Japan’s manufacturing methods and desperately copied the ideas emerging from Japan and from Toyota.

I predict that from 2013 and beyond, when the businesses in the USA and Europe realize that to compete with Asiapac and South American businesses – they too will have to re-architect and re-engineer their organisations and processes, just like in the 70s and 80s.  This time it will be the business models and the business processes created by EA that will be re-exported to the US and Europe by the developing economies.

Calling all Enterprise Architects – are we ready for the challenge?

BananaSkinOver the years, we’ve seen some blunders in the Enterprise Architecture (EA) world, and some reoccurring themes have emerged. Being honest, we’ve even been in the room sometimes when they happen :). So we thought we’d document a few of these mistakes – here’s the first three. Feel free to add comments with your own favourites – maybe we’ll collate this info together at some point and summarise it in a white paper.

Introduction

Do these things (below) for a while, and then pack your bag because your EA function will be disbanded. OK, it might be renamed (always a good rule – if a project is failing, the first thing to do it rename it) or re-organised in some way – but it’s just the organisation thrashing around you as it tries to deal with the fact that YOU HAVE FAILED. A clear symptom of this is when other teams start doing what you might consider to be EA work (“hey, I should be doing that”) – that’s when you know you’ve blown it.

Great PowerPoint strategy, but no execution

Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless (Morris Chang)

A common EA behaviour is to specify a preferred technology for some enterprise function, but define no roadmap to create the necessary dev/test environments, train people etc – therefore the barriers to use by projects are just too high for any one project to bear. The strategy is therefore utterly pointless, even damaging in fact as it just wastes resources.

Seduced by complexity

The engineer in us loves it – e.g. we love trying to populate the whole Zachman grid. It’s like Pokemon – you’ve “gotta catch ‘em all!”. Also, we love to have a conceptual model, then a logical model, then a physical model etc – and for some aspects of EA maybe this is appropriate. But the numerous dimensions can multiply up to create a seemingly infinite number of artefacts and viewpoints that you can never complete (and definitely cannot maintain).

If you feel a need to fill in all the boxes or else “I’m not done, I don’t have a complete EA”, just take step back. It’s nonsense. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why are you there? To support the business that you work for.
  • Where do they get the value? Probably 50% of the value of EA comes from the first 20% of the effort – having a vision for various aspects of your EA, and a candidate roadmap to get there.

Modeling hell

This is a special case of the “seduced by complexity” error that deserves its own special mention. There is something incredibly seductive about using a model ling tool…

  • You suddenly feel “if only I could capture everything perfectly, then the world would be perfectly understood!”…
  • …quickly followed by “and if I could capture the right meta-data, maybe I could execute some of my model, or at least have some great live reporting from it!”…
  • …slowly followed by several months of coffee and darkened rooms…
  • …and then rapidly followed by your notice period

Sure, model ling has its place (a key role in fact) but the trick is to remember why on earth you are doing it and what value you and the business as a whole will derive from it. Otherwise you’ll descend into the 9th level of model ling hell…

Gartner EA Summit, London 09 May 2011

From left: Brian Burke (Research VP, Gartner), Robin Meehan (CTO, Smart421), Drew Fettes as Manuel, Johnny Hansler as Basil Fawlty, Neil Miles (MD, Smart421), Julie Short (Research Director, Gartner). Photo by kind permission of Jim Templeton-Cross

During 2010, Smart421 decided it was time to take a stronger position on thought leadership and increase our brand awareness. We wanted to be mentioned in market research reports and appear at high-level events. We set to work to develop a good rapport with Gartner, known worldwide for their research and analysis of the IT market at an enterprise level. They enjoy significant influence providing reports, events and consultancy designed to help people evaluate and decide on technologies and suitable suppliers.

Smart421 has already started delivering briefings to Gartner analysts and is sponsoring two key Gartner summit events in 2011. More : http://bit.ly/b2qEPX

Our first event was the Gartner Entreprise Architecture Summit [website] which took place 09-10 May at the Park Plaza Westminter Bridge, London.  Gartner delivered a very high quality audience exceeding 300 people, 34% of whom were UK delegates. Smart421 was represented by our management team Neil Miles (MD), Robin Meehan (CTO), Martin Brazill (Director of Sales & Marketing). We also invested in deploying a team including Lead Consultant with specialisation is EA, as well as Customer Account Managers. No doubt Smart421′s CTO will be blogging about the conference sessions, which included Brian Burke’s key theme of “gamification” which had delegates buzzing during conversations I had (and some I overheard) during lunch and other refreshment breaks on day one.

Dinner at Fawlty Towers

From left: Drew Fettes as Manuel, Johnny Hansler as Basil Fawlty. Photo by kind permission of Jim Templeton-Cross

Day one also saw a Networking Reception which provided a informal place for delegates to meet sponsors, talk shop and reflect on the day. After a full day of conference sessions, delegates and analysts alike emerged looking to be entertained and to enjoy some hospitality. Smart421 stepped up to the mark and, even though it was our  inaugrual summit, we managed to pitch it just right with a stand flowing with goodies and our “Dinner at Fawlty Towers” theme, thanks to our comedy duo look-alikes courtesy of Laughlines.

Not that Smart421 can be compared in any respect to a shabby hotel in Torquay run by a maniac, but feedback indicated that people liked the fact we were very approachable, different from the crowd and didn’t take ourselves too seriously. Now that sounds like Smart421 to me.

The Tattinger champagne went down rather well, so did the fresh strawberries from Alder Carr and our Suffolk Cupcakes were a big hit.

Gartner organisation was top notch, the Park Plaza Westinster Bridge staff very efficient, our fellow sponsors very friendly and, perhaps most importantly, the delegates seemed to really appreciate the entire 2-day event.

Photos by kind permission of Jim Templeton-Cross

PresentationCroppedYesterday was a busy Enterprise (EA) Architecture day – I was presenting with a colleague from Visa Europe at the Open Group conference, and then was off to the Gartner EA Summit for the evening networking event, where Smart421 was a sponsor and had a stand. Due to a rare piece of good fortune the two events were within walking distance of each other near Westminster, and so I could race from one to the other. I even walked past Vince Cable along the way – despite last week’s hammering at the polls he was looking quite chipper. More about the Gartner EA summit in another post – maybe I’ll even mention Basil Fawlty…

The presentation was about the maturing of Visa Europe’s Architecture practice, and was jointly presented with Mark Pettit (on the left in the picture) who is head of EA for Visa Europe. Smart421 and Visa Europe have worked closely on this ongoing continual improvement process since mid-2009, and so it was nice to be able to shout about our joint success. The EA world certainly needs to celebrate successes whenever it has one, because they don’t seem to be that common :). We got good interest from the audience which was flattering, including some interest in using the presentation material as a case study for an EA under-graduate university course in the US (see below).

The attendance at the Open Group event was a little disappointing I felt – maybe about 120 delegates or so, but as always I picked up some useful snippets and a few gems during the day. Your impression of an event is always skewed by which streams you chose to attend, but there seemed to be a strong focus on business strategy (measured via balanced scored card from Kaplan-Norton) and it’s relationship to EA which was interesting – I detected a shift from the historical “is business architecture really part of EA?” wrangle towards general acceptance.

There was a stronger representation from the Middle East than I’ve ever seen before at these conferences, and clearly the Open Group see this as a key growth area. I attended two very credible presentations from speakers from this region.

The final presentation of the day that I attended was related to the teaching of EA in universities, specifically Penn State in the US. Dr Brian Cameron is clearly getting a lot of traction with industry bodies and companies – with really encouraging student employment and starting salary rates. I was surprised in a recent interaction with a university in the UK that architecture in general was so poorly represented in their Computer Science degree curriculum, and so Penn State’s advances in this area show the way forward. Tomorrow’s graduates are going to be assembling solutions from cloud-based components, not writing pages and pages of Java (although this “nuts and bolts” knowledge is still necessary, I accept) – so the EA discipline is going to become an even more relevant skill over time.

"Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises" - Demosthenes

"Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises" - Demosthenes

Did you know that of the 500 original companies of the original S&P 500 (Standard & Poors) in 1957, only 74 of those remained in 1997 – that is a staggering 85% reduction!

Why is this?

The capital markets in the world today encourages rapid and vast growth leading to greater revenues and wealth, meaning people are expecting companies to adapt and perform to the market conditions and are not too understanding when they under-perform over the long term. Of those companies that are no longer in the S&P 500 one of the key factors that they were unable to be keep up with the changing demands of the markets and been able to be agile in entering new high value markets. Whilst change can be slow, it is always powerful!

It is having this ability to adapt and change that helps companies today to survive and a great way to help your business achieve this agility is by adopting a SOA architecture. It can really help a business create an IT infrastructure that will support a truly dynamic enterprise.

SOA is all about defining services that align and support business process, and exposing these services so they can re-used easily. It also allows these services to change independently so only aspects of business processes that need to change (as the business adapts and changes) minimising the impact on the rest of the IT infrastructure and business.

The loose coupling gained from adopting a SOA also provides abstraction from underlying systems and applications. This allows greater flexibility on consuming and invoking the capability exposed through the SOA, whilst enabling the ability to  switch the underlying systems and platforms as and when this is required.

When you consider all of these benefits you can see the agility this provides your business.

SOA is nothing new and has been around for a number of years now (and in a number of different guises) but in our opinion it is now a widely accepted mainstream approach within IT architecture, which we are seeing with a number of our clients investing and driving forwards with SOA as they have realised (and are already reaping) the benefits that it brings and how that journey can be the beginning  of a great and dynamic future.

Brian Burke, Research VP at Gartner speaking at a Local Briefing event in London on 2nd February 2010, was talking about the flatter horizontal organisation and which means that control is much more difficult to exercise these days.

I think that control has always been a difficult idea.  The thought that one of us can control the actions of others is scary.  By and large we submit to the control of others because it is in our benefit to do so, either for individual gain or for the collective good.  The idea that the Enterprise Architecture (EA) team have control over the Strategy, the execution of Strategy, or are responsible for the upholding of the principles against all comers is an old fashioned illusion.

Governance comes high up the list of wants of all Enterprise Architects (if only we could make ….), but the control and the power to control is illusory.  Enterprise Architects need to make it in the interest of others to conform to the strategy, the principles and standards.

The EA team only wield power by virtue of the willingness of others to follow and for others to perceive that it is in their best interest.  For some people the collective interest is not sufficient.  They perceive that their own self interest can be best served by going against the collective interest and they will do so.  One of the tricks is to line up individual self interest with the collective interest.

The flatter organisation and the reduction in command and control management is also mooted as a significant trend and change.  Of course, when it comes to command and control, Seddon was right to draw the connection between leaders such as Ohno, Ford and Sloan as examples of command and control implementers (Seddon, 2005 p.9) and also right to recognise where all this came from in the first place: Taylorism and scientific management , as highlighted by the prominent management consultant John Seddon (2005 pp.199-202; Greenberg and Baron, 2008 pp.12-13).

Would it be reasonable to say that the higher performance comes from pull rather than push as well as a workforce engaged in the life of the organisation?  Systems thinking means engaging the workforce in decision making in stark contrast to creating “management factories”. For example, putting variety back into the production line and devolving decision making to the workforce.

Systems thinking should enable organisations to move from satisficing to higher performance.  Also, it fits with the notion of open systems based organisations and those that are “learning” based.  Organisational culture, therefore, becomes a key determinant, alongside, it has to be emphasised, good people management and an acknowledgement of how the architecture of enterprise-wide computer systems help to bond an organisation together.

Author Peter Senge loves to talk of ‘learning organisations’ but even he acknowledges this is very hard to achieve.

Senge (1995, p.21) asserts “deep beliefs are often inconsistent with espoused values in organisations. The organisation might espouse an ideal or ‘empowering’ people, but an attitude that ‘they won’t let us do it’ prevails. Thus, even though espoused values change, the culture of the organisation tends to remain the same. It is a testament to our naïvete about culture that we think we can change it simply by declaring new values. Such declarations usually produce only cynicism.”

The most effective organisations have always been those that are managed by co-operation rather than dictat (although modern-day disciples of Machiavelli’s The Prince may dispute this: see this paper for a discussion).  It is now even more obvious that this is the only way to manage.  The armed forces (a model of command and control) manage by the willing co-operation of their participants (the troops).

To claim, therefore, that Enterprise Architects can no longer rely on the command and control type of organisation is to deny the political skills of the previous CIOs and Chief Architects in gaining respect for their opinions and actions for their plans.

In the context of EA the power of veto is illusionary without the respect and support from peers, as once exercised, the power dissipates rapidly when unpopular decisions are forced through.

The soft skills that are required by IT architects are formidable, if the architect is to play their part in the shaping of the solutions or the organisations, they need the full set of soft skills, just as Gartner research director Chris Wilson pointed out.  It is not a new set of skills though, as Chris Wilson says “to be qualified as the best paid snake oil salesmen we had better be equipped to facilitate, persuade and sell and sell and sell.”

Way back in 1987, Beckard and Harris came up with a valuable contribution to help us all to get a handle on organisational transitions. Their ‘change equation’ still holds the road today. I’ll leave you to work the numbers for your own situation.

C=[ABD] > X

C=Change

A=Level of dissatisfaction with the status quo

B=Desirability of the proposed change or end state

D=Practicality of the change (minimal risk and disruption)

X=“Cost” of changing

You might be thinking that this still leaves Enterprise Architects in a dilemma, but hey – what’s new there? It’s precisely why Enterprise Architecture should be entrusted to the professionals.

References

Beckhard, R. and Harris, R.T. (1987) Organizational Transitions: Managing complex change 2nd edn. Reading, MA, Addison Wesley

Greenberg, J and Baron, R.A (2008) Behavior in Organizations 9th edn. Upper Saddle River, NL, Pearson Education.

McGuire, D and Hutchings, K. (2006) ‘A Machiavellian analysis of organizational change’ Journal of Organizational Change Management 19 (2) pp. 192-209 DOI 10.1108/09534810610648906 Also available at http://teaching.fec.anu.edu.au/MGMT7030/McGuire%20and%20Hutchings%20-%20Machiavellian%20Change.pdf [accessed 02 February 2010].

Seddon, J. (2005) Freedom from Command and Control: a better way to make the work work 2nd edn. Buckingham, Vanguard Education.

Senge, P., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R, and Smith, B. (1995) The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook London, Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Leading analyst Brian Burke talked persuasively about Hyperconnected enterprises in his presentation “Return-to-Growth Strategy: Architecting the Next-Wave Business Model” at the latest Gartner local briefing on Enterprise Architecture in London this week

Gartner’s view is that organisations are becoming more horizontally structured and more interconnected with other organisations and with their customers. To such an extent that the hyperconnected organisation will be unable to deliver without its connections.  I suspect that this is part of the continual evolution of businesses such as adoption of Just-In-Time and the exploitation of e-commerce.  Is the vertically integrated organisation a dinosaur?  Are there any left? Some of Smart421’s clients are actively pursuing strategies of horizontal integration and removing their vertical integration.

It all makes sense; changes in the environment create opportunities to be exploited, so it is natural that the Internet and fast reliable and cheap communications will be fuelling new ways of not only doing, but creating businesses.  The explosion in software services and cloud computing, which is just around the corner will accelerate this trend.  In fact it may well be that these two developments will drive much of the growth in the next economic cycle.

Brian Burke was also talking about “emergent strategies”, that is those strategies that happen outside of the corporate strategies – strategy on the fly if you like.  Gartner are suggesting that the emergent strategies are becoming more important, diminishing the effect of the more ponderous corporate strategies.  This is a wake up call to organisations with centrist attitudes.  The more distributed the organisation, the more distributed the strategies and governance need to be.  The British found that out some 200 years ago, a lesson learnt from the colonies.

What EA needs is a strategy to deal with and adopt the emergent on-the-fly strategies.

Luckily for me ticking off all the new and emerging ideas from Brian’s presentation, I found that Smart421’s EA proposition and in particular the “Sustainable EA” stance ticks all of the boxes for the hyperconnected organisation complete with an agile strategy to deal with on-the-fly strategies.

Hyperconnected organisations also reminded me of a project that I first heard about from a colleague at Smart421 on the subject of Linked Data. The project is being run out of the University of Southampton. What is particularly interesting is that Messrs Berners-Lee and Shadbolt are looking very carefully at this whole area.

Samuel HolcmanThis evening I attended this BCS EA specialist group event at the IET building in London. The presentation was given by Samuel Holcman from EACOE, a US-based EA consultancy/training/certification organisation that are trying to break into the UK market. Consequently the presentation was a bit of a sales pitch and didn’t feel very “BCS-like”, but as always with these things whilst most of it was the usual familiar EA messages, there were a few interesting little snippets that I picked out.

I must admit to being pretty restless during the first 40 minutes (!) when Sam went over the usual intro material – definition of EA etc. Everything he said was sensible. But how many times can you have the basic interrogatives of the Zachman framework explained to you before you start to glaze over? I appear to have reached my limit anyway! To be fair, there was some interesting historical new ground covered when he was describing the pre-Zachman seminal paper days in IBM during the tenure of Dewey Walker.

Then he launched into the “Maximising Business Sponsorship” material. I was expecting the discussion to be about how to get the business excited about the possibilities of EA, why is it important to them, and how to keep that excitement/engagement alive over an extended period of time etc, but Sam focused on the initial EA engagement really and how to maximise business sponsorship during those early days. In our experience this is not the problem – not saying that it’s easy, but it’s keeping it going over the long term that is tougher. We were discussing this afterwards and someone proposed an interesting theory – that “organisational memory” is about 3 years long (related to organisations’ regular personnel changes and re-orgs), and so in that time period anything older is forgotten and tends to then get performed again (such as EA initiatives). The people you dealt with 3 years ago have all been replaced and moved on, and they didn’t tell their replacements which cupboard the corporate data model was put in…

His key message was that business engagement/sponsorship requires 3 things:

  • A clear methodology and defined roles/responsibilities for the EA effort. In a discussion afterwards with my BCS colleagues the general conclusion was that business guys generally won’t want to know the method you are using (in detail at least), but will want to be reassured that you have one, i.e. you’re not making it up as you go along. The method outlined by Sam was TOGAF-esque in nature – as we know there’s only so many ways of skinning that particular cat.
  • “Human consumable” outputs. Sam outlined some sensible practices and rules of thumb here for “consumability”. However I was pretty amazed when he said that all the outputs they produce are either in Visio or Excel. I like the idea of outputs being in a business-friendly format, but maintaining them in Visio? If you needed just to rename something used in more than on diagram, then…er…oh dear. Please… :)
  • Traceability. Now, I initially thought he meant traceability from corporate goals->strategy->divisional goals->divisional strategy->projects, or something similar – but maybe I jumped to that conclusion as that is one of my areas of work at present. But he meant traceability of everything (corporate goals etc) to the actual source document section that they were harvested/discovered from. This is new news to me and seems like a lot of work (and implies a kind of “plough through hundreds of documents to discover the enterprise architecture”-type approach), but I can see the benefits. It draws out and provides direct evidence for conflicts in the views between business stakeholders and also demonstrates that nothing has been “made up” by the EA team.

All in all, I’m glad I attended. It’s always a bit of a hassle to go to an event like this after your day job but Sam provided good sensible reminders of the EA basics (e.g. eat your own dog food, start scope small and build on success, communications strategy is key, have a method, timebox for frequent deliveries etc) and also threw in some good provocations to keep me interested. Thanks!

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