Enterprise pertinence

pertinence

In thinking about the problems that enterprises encounter, the following questions came to mind:

  • What problems is your enterprise experiencing?
  • What problems is your enterprise trying to resolve?
  • How do you decide that these are the most important problems to solve?
  • What questions do you ask in this process?
  • Are you asking the right questions?

The answers to some of the questions will provide some insight into the measure of your enterprise pertinence.

Enterprise problems

All enterprises encounter problems. Yet, I wonder how well enterprises deal with the problems they encounter, and more particularly, how well enterprises deal with determining which problems to resolve, what priority to give to resolving them and how much to invest in resolving them.

The constant references to failed enterprises, failed business strategies, failed change initiatives, failed IT projects, … suggests that there are no shortage of problems to address and no shortage of opportunities to get better at solving problems!

Given how many problems might be encountered and the investment in effort to analyse the problem, design and assess potential solution options, develop and integrate these solutions into our enterprises, there is a need to:

  • assess and prioritise the problems, their solutions and the value they will deliver in terms of enhanced enterprise performance and outcomes
  • assess the cost and value of assessing and prioritising any prospective problem

This is what leads to considering whether we are asking the right questions about:

  • the problems we are experiencing or might experience
  • the extent to which these problems might prevail given changes in the ecosystems in which they operate or in the directions we might pursue (whereby some problems might not arise)
  • the root causes of the problems we are experiencing
  • how we perceive the problems that might or might not arise

Attention economy

What is the attention economy? How is it relevant to enterprise pertinence?

The attention economy reflects a view of our lives as being awash with information commanding our attention. Think of all the information coming to you via:

  • television, radio and print media
  • emails commanding your attention and action
  • social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter feeds

There are only so many “waking hours” in a day, so there are only so many “signals” to which you can give your attention. Here we have a supply and demand problem – one where “economics” comes into play. There is more demand for your attention than there is supply of attention that you can give. How do you decide which to ignore and which to consider? We make choices as to the allocation of our time and attention. We deem one signal to be more pertinent to our life and the various enterprises in which we engage. This is the “stuff” of work / life balance, of strategic versus tactical, of relevant versus irrelevant, of attention versus distraction.

It is as much about how we spend our “personal” time as it is about how we spend our “work” or “enterprise” time. Our awareness of problems and attention to problems is part of enterprise pertinence.

Power of questions

How do we identify problems? How do we assess problems? How do we assure ourselves that we are assessing problems well (right) and assessing the right problems?

This is the business of quality, assurance and governance, asking questions and asking the right questions. In governance roles, one learns to ask questions and one learns to recognise powerful questions. An example is the question all Boards must ask themselves and should be able to answer:

  • What constitutes success? How would we recognise success?

This is also the field of learning, single, double and triple loop learning:

  • Single loop learning – are we doing things right?
  • Double loop learning – are we doing the right things?
  • Triple loop learning – how do we decide what is right?

In understanding and exploring any area of activity, it becomes evident when asking a leader in the field a particular question, and they respond “That’s a good question” or “I have thought of asking that question”. Such situations of evidence of high individual and (potentially) enterprise pertinence.

Enterprise development

With the increasing complexity of the environments in which enterprises operate, we appreciate that enterprises must adopt an adaptive approach, where they need to learn about their situation and the associated problem space before being able to consider potential solutions. This will engage us in asking a range of questions, often around the five interrogatives:

  • Why?
  • What?
  • How?
  • Where?
  • When?

Deloitte University recognises this growing dynamic, and advises clients that we are transitioning:

  • from the industrial age where successful enterprises successfully scale efficiency
  • to the knowledge age where successful enterprises successfully scale learning

That entails developing the capability of asking and answering the right questions – the capability of developing enterprise pertinence.

Are you asking good questions in your enterprise?

Enterprise awareness

This article extends the thinking outlined in Enterprise Development which encompasses those capabilities required by an enterprise to support its adaptation, development, or transformation towards its intended future state. It explores enterprise awareness as a key capability within the enterprise development domain, and considers enterprise awareness in terms similar to those of individual self-awareness.

This is the first real expression and articulation of the thinking around enterprise awareness. I expect that further discussion and exploration will lead to progressive refinement and expansion of the thinking around this concept and its application to enterprises and their development. I would like to acknowledge Doug McDavid who prompted this thinking through his long-standing advocacy for the value of establishing and maintaining a repository of the architecture of enterprises.

Concept

When we are more self-aware as an individual, we are able to act in more effective ways in challenging situations. In this regard, I am suggesting that when enterprises are more self-aware, they are more able to recognise and respond appropriately to situations they encounter, whether these be threats or opportunities. In effect, an enterprise is more able to sense, respond, adapt, transform or develop:

  • than it would with lesser awareness
  • then other enterprises in the environment in which it is operating.

Application

What is required to be more enterprise-self-aware? In its most simplest form, it is to be aware of its existing and potential capability.

How often do we encounter:

  • The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
  • The divisions are silos with no collaboration between them.
  • Duplicated capabilities in different parts of the organisation

These and other similar situations are symptoms of an insufficiently self-aware enterprise.

What does it take to redress this situation?

  • Some minimal diligence in maintaining models and views which reflect the way in which the enterprise is organised and operates
  • A place where these models are visible across the enterprise and able to be explained and shared as part of the enterprise narrative
  • An assurance mechanism which monitors the maintenance of the models and views and the quality, integrity and usability of their representation
  • Appropriate skills and experience to provide support for this activity to occur in a sustained manner

Implementation

If this makes sense to you, you might be asking how you might explore and apply this concept to your enterprise? There are a number of minimum essential elements to consider and pursue:

  • Leadership
  • Learning and development
  • Scalability

Leadership

Developing enterprise awareness requires leadership to effect a cultural change which creates an environment in which enterprise awareness can develop and thrive.

An effective starting point is simply for the Executive team to test their own shared awareness and consistency in understanding and expressing:

  • the business model(s) underpinning their enterprise
  • the operating model for their enterprise
  • the desired culture and values for their enterprise
  • the means by which the performance of the enterprise should be assessed

Failure to be able to do this in a consistent and coherent fashion prompts serious questions as to how well others in the enterprise understand these fundamentals about the enterprise.

Exploration of the differences and development of a consistent expression with a shared narrative will then enable the Executive team to undertake this process with their direct reports. There will need to be, in conjunction with this activity, an organised way of recording the shared expression of the business model, operating model, values and principles, which can be used in common by all who engage in the progressive development of greater enterprise awareness.

Learning and Development

As the enterprise leadership engages in establishing greater enterprise awareness and greater enterprise alignment, the recognition of differences in understanding and practice are part of learning about the reality of the enterprise, and about deficiencies in its current organisation to achieve its desired goals and aspirations.

This is part of a self-discovery and learning journey. It should be treated as an open enquiry process where no participant is “wrong” and where no “blame” is attached to the existence of differences. These value arises in appreciating the differences and being able to attend to them, as they are, in part, one of the fundamental reasons that the enterprise is unable to realise its aspirations and its full potential.

Deficiencies in the current business model(s) and operating model will prompt revisiting of business strategy, which in turn will require the development and transformation of the enterprise to realise revised business strategies, business model(s) and the associated operating model.

Scalability

The approach which have been outlined can be applied to any “enterprise”. This means that it can be applied to:

  • an entire organisation
  • a division within an organisation
  • a team
  • a cross divisional function (eg. people management system)
  • a cross organisational system (eg. criminal justice system)

For each, it is entirely appropriate to consider:

  • business model (customers, services, channels, value proposition, capabilities)
  • operating model (operations, development, resources and governance)
  • culture, value and principles

For enterprises that are part of an organisation, there will be a need to determine the manner in which the enterprise integrates with other parts of the organisation. This may prompt a broader approach being taken, having determined that value has been derived in considering a smaller part of the organisation.

Facilitation

How might you facilitate the exploration of your enterprise and its self-awareness?

There are often a range of people within enterprises who are well placed to support such an activity. These include staff in the following functions:

  • Business strategy
  • Organisation development
  • Quality management
  • Business architecture

If your enterprise is not of sufficient size to have these positions, then a consultant with appropriate understanding of the architecture of enterprises could facilitate such an activity.

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.

Vision, purpose, enterprise

Enterprise-development-1

EM_journey_v0-15

In a recent article, I used this simple visual to describe my approach to architecting enterprises. As you can see, it starts with a vision and ends with a roadmap for realising the vision. This attracted significant comment from a number of colleagues, prompting reflection on my approach, the communication of my approach and the visual aids that I use in explaining my approach to those with whom I engage.

Genesis

Let me start by describing the genesis and motivations for creating and using this visual. In engagement with an enterprise, an early task is to outline to the Executive the journey that we will be jointly undertaking so that they have a sense of how we will realise the intended outcomes of the engagement. This diagram is the result of multiple refinements of that visual and is often customised to reflect the particular language and position of the organisation on this journey.

In a recent assignment, the organisation had done significant work on a “strategy cascade”. As the Executive sponsor and I talked through their cascade, we were able to determine that it encompassed the main elements of vision and business model, such that the “entry point” for this organisation would be with an initial operating model they had developed, seeking to refine it to a point where it would provide input into their annual capital budgeting process.

As it turned out, I became aware during the process that the budgeting process was well in train, even before we started this journey, such that we started describing our activity to those engaged as an assurance process – providing another view on the organisation, the capabilities that they needed to realise their intended business model and their intended differentiated positioning in the markets in which they operated.

In another assignment, the starting point was an “aspirational brief” which had been developed as part of a co-design undertaking by the enterprise and their customers. That is, in fact, how that artefact came to become part of this visual.

In many assignments, the journey ends up being different than indicated by this simple graphic – but that is only known in reflecting back on the journey, which has been an adaptive experience, determining the activities in the course of discovering the new possibilities that might be pursued in iterating through development or refinement of their business model(s) and operating model. It is important, though, to provide a simple representation and to let the journey unfold – any more complex representation becomes confusing and difficult to explain, without greater appreciation of “what is to come”. That is a critical point – my colleagues know “what is to come” because they have been on this journey many times, but often this is the first time for my clients and they need to be afforded the opportunity to discover and shape the most appropriate path for their enterprise.

Disrupted world

In the last forty years (my working life), the world and the working world have changed radically. It was common, in my early working life, to encounter a planning process which essentially entailed forming a vision for where the enterprise wished to be in five to ten years and developing a plan for “getting there”. And to a fair degree, this worked.

Turn the clock forward, and it no longer works! Why not? Because by the time the plan is executed, the world has changed so that the vision is no longer relevant or appropriate. In fact, the vision may entail a range of operating assumptions that are simply no longer valid. This change is reflected in expressions such as market disruption and business model disruption. Markets are changing rapidly, with new entrants bringing new business models and new ways of thinking and operating that can totally undermine the business model of an organisation. I am sure I don’t have to reference the oft-quoted enterprises or industries in which we have seen these changes occur.

Hence, the disrupted world can mean that our visions are no longer relevant or if relevant may be subject to radical disruption within the next five to ten years. In this respect, establishing and creating a vision for our organisation has become an ineffective approach to planning, architecting and designing. This can lead to developing a vision of our organisation as opposed to a vision of the world in which it will be operating. But that, too, might not be reflective of the manner in which our organisation has adapted and evolved in a change world.

Yet, we need some ongoing expression of the enterprise we are pursuing and the motivations underpinning our enterprise. If a vision is not suitable, how do we express our purpose and motivation?

Corporate lifecycle

Taking a slightly different angle, I have found “Managing Corporate Lifecycles” by Ichak Adizes offers a range of valuable insights into the architecting and developing of organisations. Adizes speaks of four key dimensions through the acronym PAEI:

  • Purposeful
  • Administrative
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Integrated

He speaks of each of these coming to the fore at different stages in the lifecycle of an organisation and offers an “optimal path”, which takes a balanced approach to each of these dimensions. Elements of this thinking are reflected in several of my articles, including one on enterprise integration and wholeness.

Reflecting on his book takes my mind to thinking about:

  • Enterprise integration
  • Enterprise and personal integrity
  • Enterprise completeness
  • Enterprise and personal fulfillment
  • Enterprise and personal awareness

All of these require some sense of purpose and may entail some vision of the enterprise and people we aspire to be.

Evolving purpose

Another line of thinking that has been influential for me has been Ackoff’s classification of systems which revolves around the concept of being purposeful. Ackoff defines this as any entity which is able to change either of the means or the ends by which the entity operates. This is a key element of strategic planning and its use of the concept of capability, where exploration occurs in relation to:

  • the new markets (ends) which may be pursued with existing capabilities (means)
  • the new capabilities (means) which might be required within existing markets (ends)

Ackoff classifies systems in terms of whether their parts are purposeful / non purposeful and the whole is purposeful / non purposeful, naming the systems with purposeful parts and whole as social systems (since it is the people element which brings the social construct of purpose to this purposefulness).

As you would appreciate, when we explore using existing capabilities to pursue new markets, we are exploring new purposes for our existing capabilities. Hence, the need to be flexible (and alert) when exploring strategic directions, seeking to shape our future and potentially change the purposes of our organisation.

Evolving architecture, development and enterprise

It seems to me that the development and sustainment of successful enterprises engages us in evolving our purpose and hence the expression of the enterprise that our organisation is pursuing.

As we evolve our enterprise, we must equally evolve the way in which our enterprise develops, and accordingly, must also evolve the way in which we architect and design our enterprise.

Approaches to architecting enterprises inevitably engage in envisioning the future environment in which they will operate and the way in which they will operate in such environments. It is incumbent on all of us who are involved in leading, architecting, designing, developing and sustaining enterprises that we appreciate the manner in which vision and purpose must evolve and be balanced and adaptable.

As we pursue these activities, we may express our vision and purpose for our enterprise, for our development and for the manner in which we architect and design our enterprise.

Genetics

Hopefully, then, it will come as no surprise to consider that we are genetically wired to be enterprising. I am sure there are authors and thinkers I could reference here! My simplistic view is that being enterprising helped us when we were hunters and gatherers, recognising that collectively we could achieve more than individually. It has helped us through each of the ages – agricultural, industrial, and information / knowledge age. Our enterprising capacity has enhanced our capability to survive and has been further concentrated through our ongoing evolution.

Our enterprising nature has enabled us to develop envision, shape and realise our future, to evolve our visions and our expressions of purpose and to pursue these evolving visions and purposes.

Our enterprising nature enables us to design and realise purposeful organisations, able to give attention to changing the means or changing the ends as we sense and respond to the environment in which we operate.

Conclusion

Perhaps visions and purposes are means and not just ends? Perhaps they are helpful if we appreciate and use them in an adaptive manner as an instrument for conceiving of possible futures and evolving our capacity to realise these futures in a rapidly changing world?

Food for further thought and reflection!

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.