Being more systems savvy

What questions does this title prompt?

  • What is meant by “systems savvy”?
  • How systems savvy am I?
  • How systems savvy are the organisations of which I am part?
  • What is the value in being (more) systems savvy?
  • Why should I bother thinking, reading or trying to be (more) systems savvy?

Being (more) savvy

Let’s start with some synonyms for “savvy”

shrewdness, astuteness, sharp-wittedness, sharpness, acuteness, acumen, acuity, intelligence, wit, canniness, common sense, discernment, insight, understanding, penetration, perception, perceptiveness, perspicacity, knowledge, sagacity, sageness

“savvy” reflects the degree to which we understand “things” and can apply our knowledge and understanding to “things” and how we create, maintain and use these “things”.

Systems

Now, what about “systems”?

“systems” are one of the common ways in which we make sense of “things”, how they work and how to change how they work. In one respect, “systems” are a figment of our imagination. Why do I say that? Well, often different people view, describe and understand the same “system” in different ways. Lots of systems are sufficiently large and complex that we can’t know all that there is to know about the system. What we know about the system is influenced by:

  • what we know, in general
  • what we observe and experience in seeing and interacting with the system

Since that is different for each person, it is not surprising that the same system can seem different to different people. Hence, I find it helpful to appreciate that others probably have “a different system in mind” than the one in my mind.

Systems savvy

So, when we speak of being systems savvy, we mean that a person appreciates the finer points of understanding, designing, realising, and operating an entity through the lens of “systems” and is effective in designing, realising, operating, maintaining and changing “systems”.

Here are a couple of critical elements that are brought to bear in thinking about systems:

  • every system is part of a bigger (containing) system
  • many systems include feedback mechanisms

Every system is potentially part of more than just one containing system, prompting us to consider how a system-in-focus must operate in the context of being a part of a greater whole, where the other parts impact on the system-in-focus as much (or sometimes more) than any change to the parts of the system-in-focus might realise.

The feedback mechanisms enable the system to adjust to external factors over which the system-in-focus may have no “control” ie. they are open systems (when often “closed system” thinking is applied to their design and operation).

In particular, we also mean that a systems savvy person appreciates and practices the finer points relating to “social systems” – systems composed of people. Why? Because there are a number of critical differences between social systems and other systems.

Social systems

There is much to explore and understand about social systems – hence, our interest in continuing to:

  • explore new territory in this field
  • apply our learnings
  • share our learnings

Here are a couple of the most critical differences from our perspective. Social systems are:

  • self-designing, self-realising, self-operating, self-maintaining
  • reflective of how we make sense of the way in which we work or should work together
  • often the means by which we conceive, design, realise, operate and maintain other systems

Further elaboration on social systems is provided in a separate article.

Being brain savvy

Given that systems exist in our minds, as we learn more about how our minds work, we have the opportunity to change how we deal with systems in our minds.

Understanding more about how we think, feel, act and learn and applying this understanding is what is encompassed in being “brain savvy”.

So, we are interested in:

  • being more brain savvy
  • enabling us to be even more systems savvy

A range of different elements that are important to understanding systems, and how we govern, design, realise, operate and change them are explored in other articles, which can be found in this index.

Who are we? We are Associates with Interface Consultants. We offer services aimed at helping clients become more brain and systems savvy.

Interface Consultants are holding a lunch and learn event on being more brain and systems savvy. Further details are available on EventBrite.

Reducing enterprise dissonance

Have you thought about the degree of dissonance that exists within your enterprise?

Have you considered what the cost of this dissonance might be to the performance of your enterprise and its future success?

Have you identified where the greatest points of dissonance exist in your enterprise?

Have you considered what you might do to reduce dissonance in your enterprise?

Exploring enterprise dissonance

You may not have considered the concept of “enterprise dissonance” before now. It was prompted by thinking about enterprise integration, wholeness and harmony, and contemplating potential antonyms. Here are several definitions for dissonance that you might use to reflect on the dissonance within enterprises with whom you are engaged.

Dissonance: lack of agreement or harmony between people and things

Dissonance: conflict or incongruity

Dissonance: uncomfortable sense experienced by people in the midst of change

Assuming you do recognise the existence of dissonance in your enterprise. What are the causes of this dissonance? What might you do to reduce the degree of dissonance (assuming that it is an unnecessary overhead and impediment to enhanced enterprise performance)?

Diagnosing enterprise dissonance

One of the key causes of dissonance, in my experience, is that people hold different models of the enterprise, the environment in which it operates, or the parts of which it is composed. This prompts engaging with enterprises to explore:

  1. the explicit models that the enterprise is using to describe itself or its intended self
  2. any gaps or inconsistencies that might be evident in these models
  3. any gaps or inconsistencies between current capability and intended capability represented by these models
  4. any gaps or inconsistencies that might be evident between the implicit models that are evident in how leaders think, communicate, decide and act and the explicit

Any of these gaps or inconsistencies can be the cause for enterprise dissonance as people:

  • unknowingly act in differing and conflicting ways
  • respond to demands which expose gaps requiring immediate response without the opportunity to agree the manner in which the issue should be addressed
  • intentionally take actions to further personal or group goals and aspirations which may not be consistent with enterprise goals and aspirations

Dealing with enterprise dissonance

Having identified critical gaps, the enterprises are more readily able to develop a more integrated set of models on which to base an assessment of capability gap and a transformation plan to address the priority gaps.

Many enterprises have well established approaches to business transformation planning and capability development. The more critical issues seem to be:

  • identifying the critical gaps
  • addressing these gaps in a more holistic manner

This is where architecting enterprises, in enhancing enterprise awareness, enables enterprises to take a more effective approach to achieving enterprise integration, wholeness and harmony, thereby reducing enterprise dissonance, and enhancing enterprise performance and enterprise viability and sustainability.

These themes are explored further in the linked articles and more fully in the following series of articles (see series index).

  • Architecting enterprises – plain and simple
  • Architecting enterprises – digging deeper
  • Architecting enterprises – principles
  • Architecting enterprises – for Directors
  • Architecting smaller enterprises
  • Architecting disability sector enterprises
  • Architecting enterprises – reflections

Enterprise guidance

In reflecting on various approaches to expressing the design of our enterprises, I have discovered an interesting common pattern as to how we provide guidance to the ongoing evolution of the design and its realisation. This article describes the background to learning about each approach and the common pattern between them.

Knowledge Ecology Workgroup

In the late 90’s, I was a member of a global, online community exploring how to articulate and engage others in understanding the generation and sharing of knowledge through the lens of knowledge ecology.

As part of the group, Mike McMasters introduced an approach to “defining an organisation” based around articulating its essence through four themes:

  • Core idea
  • Principles and values
  • Models
  • Rules

The core idea conveys the essence of what the organisation is about and around which the organisation revolves, so to speak.

Principles and values are those held dear to the organisation and which reflect and guide the manner in which the organisation thinks, make decisions and behaves.

Models reflect the manner in which the organisation will operate.

Rules are key policies that act as guidance to the manner in which the organisation will operate.

These were seen as the minimalist set of guidance that would adequately describe an enterprise and give it the freedom to innovate and leverage the resources, particularly its people and their knowledge, to the greatest benefit to the organisation.

Economic Development Advisor

In that same period, I worked with Tim Waterhouse in the South Australian Development Council, which was established to provide advice to the Government on economic development strategies. Our role was to further develop strategies for building a strong and vibrant IT industry, expanding on the IT 2000 strategies that the government has established in the mid 90’s.

Tim operated on the basis that if we shared the same vision and values, then he was confident I would make similar decisions to him in whatever circumstances I might find myself, enabling us to be involved in more activities individually, and achieving broader coverage and engagement.

I would add to this that we also shared a number of common models which underpinned our thinking and understanding of the South Australian economy and of approaches to developing a stronger and broader economy, the IT industry as an enabling industry, and government as an anchor customer.

Latest articulation of approach

In a recent article, I have explored (a little) around the vision and purpose of enterprises, and have been reflecting on the need for such statements. I have wondered whether a vision or statement of purpose is required or whether it can be derived from the business model and business strategy? I am aware that there are significant challenges in crafting a useful vision or statement of purpose (but that does not mean it should not be done). I am also aware that there are benefits in expressing the core motivation for the enterprise.

Several comments were made about the “positioning” of vision at the commencement of the approach. In a subsequent revision, I left the vision element out. Yet, there does seem to be a need for expressing the motivation for the enterprise, perhaps as that element which provides the energy, life and inspiration for pursuing the enterprise.

In reflecting on the “core idea” from my Knowledge Ecology Workgroup experience, I can see that this is essentially the expression of vision and purpose in that particular approach.

Common pattern

From these different experiences, it is probably pretty evident that the common pattern looks quite like the model outlined by Mike McMasters in the following visual.

This seems to align closely with the core elements of expressing the intended architecture of an enterprise, providing guidance to the ongoing design of a self-organising, self-designing, self-realising enterprise.

Exploring digital transformation

lemmings (1)

When I hear expressions such as digital transformation and digital leadership, the following images come to mind:

  • Millions of 0’s and 1’s transforming into 2’s and 3’s
  • An endless line of o’s and 1’s following each other like lemmings

More seriously, the following questions come to mind:

  • What is digital transformation?
  • What does it mean to my enterprise?
  • What decisions will it require?

Understanding digital transformation

So … let’s unpack digital transformation using some simple equations.

  • Digital transformation = digital strategy + business transformation
  • Digital strategy = digital products / services + business strategy

Combining the two equations, we get …

  • Digital transformation = digital products / services + business strategy + business transformation

For me, that makes things much simpler because:

  • I understand what is entailed in business transformation
  • I understand what is entailed in business strategy
  • Now, I need to understand the implications of digital products and services

Digital products and services

There are several different elements to consideration of digital products and services, including:

  • those existing products and services which are amenable to being delivered as a digital product or service
  • those new digital products or services which complement existing products and services in such a manner as to enhance the value proposition for existing or new customer segments
  • those digital products or services which can be integrated with other digital products and services from within your enteprise or from other sources

Each of these areas offer the opportunity to extend greater value to existing and new customers.

Examples

That all sounds fine – but what does it mean in practical terms for your or my enterprise? And let’s consider some pragmatic examples and not just trot out the usual, unreachable examples such as Amazon, Netflix, Air BnB or Uber!!

Depending on your enterprise – it may prove a valuable exercise, simply to list your products and services. For some enterprises, it is obvious. For others, not quite so easy.

In my own line of business, I provide consulting services. Often, these services are summarised in a deliverable (product). The consulting is largely done face-to-face and on a client site. The deliverable is typically a presentation or a document, already provided in digital form. There will often be several steps in developing the report. The early stages of the consultancy may involve some form of assessment. This could potentially be undertaken via a digital channel, enabling my client to undertake the assessment at a time and in a place that suits them, without needing to coordinate our schedules and our locations.

Of course, this is not feasible for all businesses. A friend who operates a lawn mowing and gardening business is not going to be able to offer an alternative digital product! But that does not mean that there are no digital product / service opportunities. Perhaps there are complementary digital products and services that he might offer? These could relate to:

  • booking and paying for his services
  • hints and tips for “after-care” of lawns and gardens

Ultimately, the test for complementary digital products and services relates to customer need and potential for the customer to value these, in combination with the physical products and services. A helpful approach to identification and consideration of such opportunities is to consider the “customer lifecycle”, from genesis to lapsing of a particular need. An important consideration in developing and delivering digital services is to consider the customer journey and customer experience. A disjointed, difficult customer experience will not be conducive to business growth in this area.

An example which has been given consideration by governments is the process involved in establishing a new cafe or restaurant. Depending on circumstances, the entire process can require interaction with a number of different government entities (at differing levels of government in differing national contexts) including:

  • Registering a business and business name
  • Securing licences for selling and serving alcohol
  • Gaining local authority approval for food preparation
  • Dealing with any entertainment licensing fees
  • Subsequent renewal of approvals

Such processes can involve provision of similar information on numerous occasions, and may entail presentation of considerable supporting documentation, through slow and cumbersome office / counter channels. A digital service would allow the prospective business owner to provide the necessary information once and to be able to undertake the process at a time and place of their convenience. This first emerged under a program entitled “Ask just once” – promoting the line of thinking that government agencies would move to a position where they did not repeatedly ask citizens or businesses for the same information.

Another example revolves around considering all the related events which occur in a “life event” such as moving house, where a range of changes occur in relation to:

  • the property transactions (sale and purchase)
  • utility connections (power, water, telecoms)
  • advice of change of address to other organisations

In this scenario, all three elements can prevail – replacing physical services with digital services, offering complementary digital services and integrating a range of digital services to offer greater value and convenience to customers.

Tools and techniques

What tools and techniques can be used to identify and explore opportunities and implications as part of developing a suitable digital strategy?

Changing the product or service portfolio can be effectively explored through the discipline of reviewing your enterprise business model(s). Such a review gives cause to considering the viability and sustainability of product and service offerings and their value proposition to customers and consumers.

Better understanding the value proposition for customers should prompt consideration of digital products and services and the use of digital channels to complement existing market channels.

The same disciplines, applied to your enterprise operating model, will enable identification of opportunities for efficiencies and more responsive processes in producing and delivering your products and services, offering greater value to existing or new customers.

Conclusion

Digital transformation calls for thinking about digital products and services which may complement or extend your existing products and services and which will deliver greater value to customers and enable you to offer your products and services to broader markets.

Provision of these digital products and services will leverage existing capabilities within your enterprise, but also require you to strengthen and extend your business and digital capabilities. It will demand that you better understand and manage the inter-dependencies between your enterprise capabilities and their integration to ensure that a seamless and positive customer experience is provided for the new products and services you offer through wider and more convenient channels.

Attention to development of your enterprise in this direction may be critical due to the emergence of digital products and services from existing or new competitors, but also offers your enterprise the opportunity to enter new markets which you have previously been unable to access.

Engaging enterprise architects

Business people in office

There are a number of key motivations behind the articles which I have written over the last 18 months, which may help in appreciating the manner in which I have approached the task of communicating the essence and value of architecting enterprises. These drivers include:

  • contributing to economic, social and environmental development
  • engaging Boards, Directors, Executives and Managers
  • exploring architecture as a preventive rather than corrective measure
  • continuing my commitment to using plain business language
  • linking with other well-established and sustained resources
  • extending systems engineering to enterprise systems engineering

Economic, social and environmental development

I am convinced that architecting enterprises leads to higher accomplishing enterprises, whether the enterprises are pursued within, by or across multiple public, private or community sector organisations. Mature, sustained architecting capabilities enable enterprises to more effectively achieve their intended outcomes, whatever combination of financial, economic, social and environmental dividends they realise. To that extent, improving enterprise performance is a means of making an effective contribution to the future economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the community, state, nation and world in which I live.

Living in South Australia, an economy that has a higher proportion of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) than most other states in Australia, prompts me to explore ways in which architecting can be applied practically and deliver value to these organisations. In considering Directors as one part of my audience, I am conscious that one third of the 40,000+ members of the Australian Institute of Company Directors lead, direct and manage SMEs, reinforcing the significance of the SME constituency.

When considering Australian commercial businesses, statistics indicate the following profile:

  • 1-19 employees – 755,000
  • 20-199 employees – 78,000
  • 200+ employees – 5,000

Architecting offers the prospect of enhancing the performance of all of these organisations, well beyond the current profile which predominantly entails the 5,000 commercial businesses with more than 200 employees, plus other large organisations in the public and community sectors.

This orientation and motivation has prompted me to write articles which enable any leader to bring architectural thinking to bear in the enterprises in which they are engaged.

Directors, executives and leaders

Executives and leaders have always been the architects of enterprises. This does not change with the introduction of a more disciplined approach to architecting. Architecting of enterprises will always be done by executives and leaders. If done by others, this can compromise the efforts and value provided by these individuals, as executives and managers will inevitably change the architecture developed on their behalf by others. Even where advice is sought or tasks are delegated to others, it is critical to the sustainment of the enterprise and the integrity of its architecture, that executives and leaders understand the manner in which the architecture is expressed and maintained.

With the increasing degree of disruption to business and operating models, Boards are giving increasing attention to the intended business and operating models for their enterprise. This requires that the language used in expressing the architecture of the enterprise is based on natural business and governance language. The ability of executives and leaders to present meaningful architectural outputs and decisioning, and to demonstrate a mature architectural capability within their enterprise will offer significant confidence and assurance to Directors.

To that end, I have explicitly chosen to convey the approach to architecting enterprises in a manner that will be readily and easily understood by directors, executives and leaders. I have also chosen to demonstrate how the architecting capability speaks to corporate governance by attending to the integration of business and operating models with a sound, well recognised governance model.

Prevention rather than cure

Architecting has a number of different objectives, and one of these is to enable stakeholders to more easily deal with complexity. I recall early in my involvement in discussions on LinkedIn in The Enterprise Architecture Network (around 2012), there were views expressed that enterprise architecture just made enterprises more complex. This typically arose in discussions relating to the need to document the current architecture, where extensive effort could lead to high costs with limited value derived from these activities.

It occurred to me that:

  • architecting enterprises was most typically undertaken in large corporate and government organisations, with few smaller organisations making use of this capability
  • architecting capabilities were often directed towards dealing with organisational silos and to achieving greater organisational integration and wholeness
  • large enterprises arise from smaller enterprises that are less complex (or so I assumed)
  • embedding architecting capabilities in smaller enterprises might prove easier to effect and might aid in preventing the emergence of organisational silos

In this manner, I formed a simple view of disciplined attention to architecture being a treatment for various organisational ailments, which might be more readily addressed by taking a preventive approach. At this time, I also read Ichak Adizes “Managing Corporate Lifecycles”. Adizes looks at enterprises through the lens of their growth, pre-conception through childhood, teenager years, early adult life, maturity and through to death. Adizes also speaks of:

  • growth and change causing disintegration and requiring re-integration of our enterprises
  • an optimal path entailing earlier, balanced attention to integration

Viewing architecting as a tool for integration, this further encouraged me to consider the architecting of smaller enterprises (which I have explored in a number of other articles).

Plain business language

The nature of architecting systems is that it entails recognition and exploitation of common principles and patterns. That can lead to the creation and use of terms which seek to be neutral across multiple contexts and agnostic to the structures established in enterprises.

As examples:

  • the term organisation may be used as a more general term rather than business, corporation, government agency, or community body
  • the term enterprise may be used to accommodate the pursuit of an endeavour by part of an organisation, an entire organisation, or multiple organisations

However, it can also lead to terms which are foreign and unfamiliar to stakeholders.  “Segment” is one such concept which comes to mind.  Whilst it makes sense, it is not a term which is commonly used in normal business and executive conversation.

I have a preference to find and use terms that stakeholders already use and understand, and to avoid “special” language which can become exclusionary. This highlights a key aspect of my thinking and practice – taking an inclusive approach.

This is part of the reason that I commenced focusing on business models and operating models, now becoming more widely referenced by Boards, Executives and Management Consultants through research and tools such as:

  • Business model canvas
  • Value proposition canvas
  • Operating model canvas

Linking to other resources

When I first encountered Bruce McNaughton, I found that he was always trying to relate different frameworks to those well established frameworks that his clients use and/or are familiar with. Where this was possible, he would prefer to use the language in these frameworks and link his approach to architecting enterprises to these frameworks.

This makes great sense to me. It means that these elements will be developed and maintained by the appropriate bodies and will be familiar to many of my clients. Examples include:

  • ISO 9001 quality management
  • ISO 31000 risk management
  • Recognised project management and program management frameworks

Linking to these resources narrows the scope of architecture frameworks and the effort to sustain them, as well as making the architecture framework more readily understood by key stakeholders.

Applying enterprise systems engineering

A more recent driver has been to explore and apply concepts which have been outlined in the field of enterprise systems engineering.

I was introduced to this field through “Beyond Alignment: Applying Systems Thinking in Architecting Enterprises” ed. John Gotze. This has since led me to INCOSE – the International Council of Systems Engineering – an international organisation advancing the discipline and profession of systems engineering, including enterprise systems engineering and socio-technical systems engineering. This provides a strong base for advancing enterprise architecture in its broadest context, being a natural part of enterprise engineering.

Early engagement with INCOSE through its International Symposium 2017 being held in Adelaide has afforded me the opportunity to explore the extent to which my articulation and practice of enterprise architecture aligns with the lines of thinking being advanced through this body. As I learn more, I expect this may result in further refinement of the language that I use in these articles and in engaging with directors, executives and leaders in architecting enterprises.

Important elements in the capability development lifecycle include:

  • stakeholder engagement in problem definition and redefinition
  • refining and building shared understanding of conceptual models

In this regard, it is important to “start simple” such that the learning journey is shared by all stakeholders.  Those facilitating the process must bear in mind that they hold a much more sophisticated model and understanding of the lifecycle processes which stakeholders will progressively learn by sharing the journey.

Summary

These different factors have remained as part of the context and motivation for the series of articles that I have developed, including the most recent one on the approach that I take to architecting.

It is aimed at providing a clear and simple approach (as outlined in my first article entitled “Enterprise architecture – plain and simple“) to architecting such that directors and leaders can apply the thinking tools that architecting offers to their ongoing role as architects of enterprises and assurers of the architecture of enterprises.

Approach to architecting enterprises

Many of my articles have been about particular concepts, topics, models or perspectives relating to architecting enterprises. In that regard, they have not offered as much about the process of architecting or the methodology that we employ.

This article seeks to explore this territory, offering a simple approach which can be applied to any enterprise-as-a-system, and on which I may elaborate in later articles.

Enterprise models

Our method uses three key models:

  • Governance model
  • Business model
  • Operating model

The governance model entails application of the Tricker model, which is introduced to any Director undertaking the Company Directors Course offered by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Key areas that are given attention are shown in the following diagram.

Use of this model this model means that the activity of architecting the enterprise is easily integrated into the corporate governance model and will be familiar to many Directors, not only in Australia but also in other countries.

The second model is the business model, taking an enhanced approach to the Business Model Canvas. An example of a business model representation for a disability organisation is shown in the following diagram.

Further exploration of business models and their development is provided in:

The third model is the operating model which is developed to enable the enterprise to realise its intended business model(s). An example of an operating model for a fictitious taxi company is shown in the following diagram.

Further exploration of operating models is provided in:

Transformation program

By iterating the use of business models and operating models, an enterprise can:

  • articulate its business strategy
  • express its intended business and operating model
  • enable the organisation to assess capability gaps
  • develop an investment portfolio and transformation program

Overall, this approach is reflected in the following diagram.

As with the business models and operating models, this can be applied to any enterprise, whether it relates to a multi-organisational venture, a single organisation or part of an organisation.

Applying this pattern

If you interpret the diagram to mean that one creates a vision for where an enterprise should be in five years’ time, a roadmap to get there, and then religiously follow that roadmap for the next five years, then you will find it very 1970s thinking – as commented by a colleague.

That is not how the process “works out”. Nevertheless, it is the case that whenever a change in business model is contemplated, a number of change initatives will inevitably emerge. It is also the case, that whenever I encounter a client there is a “portfolio” of change initiatives in train, whether or not they are being managed as a program and portfolio, and that there will be elements of this cycle that are layered on top.

Sometimes, my starting point is the current portfolio, working backwards to ascertain whether there is clarity about the capabilities being improved, the operating model being realised, and the business models being pursued. So, the cycle may be entered at any point (because annual capital budgets create a cycle anyhow) and in any direction.

 

Enterprise dualities

There are a range of conceptual pairs that I have found to be important to understand and consider when architecting enterprises. Each of these pairs constitute a duality where change of one encompasses or allows change to the other. Understanding both dimensions of each of these dualities is essential to the successful architecting and design of enterprises. Equally, changing one without appreciating the other is changing can be fraught with danger! The pairs that come to mind include:

  • Self and other
  • Enterprise and organisation
  • Internal and external
  • Information and process
  • Means and ends
  • Capability and outcome
  • Autonomy and control

Self and other

I have listed this first because people are intrinsic to all enterprises. People conceive and pursue enterprises. Many enterprises entail collaboration with others, engaging them in the ongoing conception and pursuit of the enterprise.

From the outset of our lives, we engage in a process of understanding ourselves. The concept of “self” unavoidably entails the concept of “other” – to define “self”, we must be able to differentiate “self” from “other”. Consider the development of a child, coming to understand themselves as separate and distinct from:

  • their mother and father
  • the world or environment in which they live

Our understanding of ourselves is as much informed by our understanding of others, and vice versa. We communicate with others and that communication changes them. They communicate with us and that changes us.

As we collaborate with others in conceiving and pursuing enterprises, we engage in developing a shared conception of our enterprise and the manner in which we pursue it. We share our conception and others conception may be challenged, reinforced and possibly changed. They share their conception and the same may occur.

The models that we develop as part of conceiving and pursuing our collaborative enterprise inevitably entail ongoing changes to self and to others. In my experience, they are more successfully conceived and pursued when I give due attention to the manner in which others can and do contribute to the enterprise.

This duality prompts consideration of numerous dimensions, far more than can be covered in this article, providing an valuable source of topics for future articles, including:

Enterprise and organisation

“Enterprise” has a number of different meanings. Often it is used as a synonym for organisation, as in:

  • enterprise-bargaining and organisation-wide-bargaining
  • enterprise-agreement and organisation-wide-agreement
  • enterprise-development and organisational-development
  • our-enterprise and our-organisation

In architecting enterprises, it is helpful to bring a different meaning into play – as outlined by Len Fehskens when I encountered him through LinkedIn and more recently through the Association of Enterprise Architects and their journal, of which he is Chief Editor. Len encourages us to consider

enterprise as an undertaking or endeavour

In doing so, it is then possible to make a clearer distinction between the organisation that we establish to pursue the undertaking or endeavour and the undertaking or endeavour itself. It also enables us to apply the concept of enterprise in a range of different ways that are not tied to the scope of an organisation, including:

  • a new product or service as an endeavour
  • a multi-organisation endeavour
  • a project as an endeavour

Each time the conception of the endeavour changes, there will be a necessary change to the organisation established to pursue the endeavour. Each time the organisation is changed, we create the capability and opportunity to pursue different endeavours.

Internal and external

This is a more general version of self and other, but applied to any entity or system. As we create and define the boundary which “defines” the entity or system, so

the boundary creates the distinctions of internal to the boundary and external to the boundary

If we change what we regard as internal, then we are changing what we regard as external. If something changes externally, then this may cause us to change something internally.

For some enterprises, their ultimate failure has arisen through a failure to recognise the external changes that have been impacting their enterprise as each enterprise responds to external needs by making internally developed offers.

Information and process

This is probably the earliest “pair” that I encountered, as part of my role as a business analyst.

For any process, it is possible to identify:

  • the information consumed by the process
  • the information generated by the process

For any information, it is possible to identify:

  • the generating process
  • the consuming process

Hence, the view that one does not exist without the other. This has provided the basis for reviewing and assuring the quality of business requirements documents, checking that there are identified processes for the information requirements, and that there are identified information domains and entities for the process requirements.

Means and ends

This is a well known pair that comes in a variety of forms:

  • means and ends
  • strategies and objectives
  • how and why

They can exist in a cascade where:

  • Strategy A is pursued to realise objective 1
  • Objective 2 reflects Strategy A
  • Strategy B is pursued to realise objective 2

These elements may be used to explore:

  • business objectives and business strategies
  • program objectives and program strategies
  • project objectives and project strategies
  • system objectives and system strategies

Change the objectives and it is necessary to change the strategies. Change the strategies and different objectives may be realised.

Capability and outcome

Whenever a different outcome is required, there is a need to determine whether that demands new or different capabilities. Whenever a different capability is available, there is the opportunity to realise new of different outcomes.

There are several modeling techniques which enable effective exploration of this particular duality:

  • Benefit realisation chains aid in understanding the chain of outcomes that are required in order to realise ultimate enterprise goals and outcomes. Once developed, it is helpful to explore the capabilities required to deliver each benefit / outcome in the chain
  • Business capability models aid in reflecting the capabilities existing within an enterprise or required to pursue an intended enterprise. Once developed, it is helpful to explore the gaps in capability to inform a change or transformation program, and to articulate the outcome measures for each capability which aids in evaluating progress and degree of success.

Autonomy and control

Consideration of autonomy versus control arises in a range of situations, most commonly in relation to:

  • Governance
  • Management
  • Process

In a governance context, there is a recognition of the separation between the governing body and management. Governance creates an environment through articulation of strategy and policy within which management are expected to operate. Strategy and policy which are too prescriptive limit the capacity of management to respond the dynamic nature of the environment in which the enterprise operates. Alternately, ill-defined strategy and policy may offer a degree of autonomy such that management pursue outcomes beyond those identified by the governing body.

In a management context, managers and staff reporting to a manager will give consideration to the degree to which the manager controls staff or empower staff and affords them a degree of autonomy. Staff with little autonomy will often speak of being micro-managed, implying a degree of control beyond that which they deem necessary.

In a process context, consideration needs to be given to the conditions within which the process operates and the extent to which these can be accommodated by a process which prescribes what should be done versus a process which relies on the knowledge and skill of staff to determine what should be done.

In each context, increasing autonomy entails decreasing control and vice versa. Careful attention is required to determining the appropriate balance between autonomy and control.

Conclusion

Each of these dualities are important to the successful architecting, operation and sustaining of enterprises.

Perhaps there are other dualities of which you are conscious and which you find important to consider?