How to Create Well Orchestrated Change!

My last post shared 3 tips for how I start the movement towards well orchestrated change. Today I want to dive in and talk about the approaches I use.

I describe EA as…

Imagine the possibilities through design – I believe you must show value immediately for something to be supported and I do this by creating that first instance of the EA Consolidated Roadmap within a three to four month period. Now I realize there is NO WAY to create a detailed and precise design within four months which is why I start passively. I lead the creation of the MVP (Most Viable Product) or a starting point and then I start participating in “change” to evolve and validate that design.

Make it come alive through projects – I believe you must demonstrate by example for something to be truly understood and I do this by selecting a project to work with… a project to demonstrate what an “EA Influenced Project” looks like. I realize there is NO WAY to walk in and take control of how an organization runs their projects which is why I start passively. I lead the creation of an Architecture Review Board… and I start by running that review board as more of a show and tell. Each meeting focuses on:

  • reusable components,
  • efficiencies that other business areas can take advantage of and
  • a new way of ensuring strategic components and decisions are taken care of.

Which brings me to STAY IN YOUR LANE… I know there are all sorts of architects out there and they range from assorted levels and areas of focus. When I talk about Enterprise Architecture I am talking about the architects that sit at a strategic level. They exist to connect the dots across the organization, they do not specialize in products or systems. These architects focus their attention on ensuring change does not impact the business across the organization. They follow the information flow and business activities across the highest business functions end to end across the organization. They look for patterns across departments searching for ways to bring efficiencies, reduce costs and potential risks and achieve the vision. They must be continuously evolving and testing their thinking against changes being proposed, technology advancements and expectations. They must be willing to put up their hand when contradictions appear.

I have created a three part course… How to “DO” Enterprise Architecture which goes into depth on how I implement the first year of a new EA Practice. I have created a fictitious organization and use it to provide a step by step guide. Watch the following introduction clip… How to “DO” Enterprise Architecture – Using the EA Consolidated Roadmap to Influence Change... to get a preview of the course which is due to release December 2020.

EA does not happen overnight – tips to help year one

I have said many times that what EA means to me is well orchestrated change… the ability to create a design for the future and work within the current environment through well orchestrated change to realize the vision.

The fact is this is not something that will happen overnight.  One of my favorite sayings is changing an organization is like turning the titanic with a wooden spoon… and some days it feels like the wooden spoon is being eaten by fish.

I want to share three of my techniques for helping an EA Practice in it’s first year…

  1. Start passively – year one is all about “influencing change” … listening, observing, validating the design, and planting seeds.
  2. Educate through example – pick one project, and run it as an EA influenced project to show the benefits and value,
  3. Stay in your lane – think strategically by connecting the dots to ensure:
    •  information flow is not being impacted across the organization,
    • reusable components are used across business areas and departments and
    • priorities and dependencies across all 5 architectural disciplines are not overlooked.

The job of the EA Practice is to create a design and be armed with a million ideas for how to implement it and be able to pivot the thinking based on the environment, priorities and discussions at hand.

Excited to Announce…

How to Create an Enterprise Practice Roadmap course is being recognized as the highest rated on Udemy!

Please keep the suggestions coming so that together we can keep it at it’s best.

This course contains four sections, each section walks you through the steps I take to create a roadmap for an Enterprise Architecture Practice. The roadmap is a list of activities that need to transpire to move an organization from a level 0 to 5 EA maturity.

Similar to creating an EA Consolidated Roadmap for an organization you must start with an understanding of the vision for the EA Practice. Ideally all organizations should have a vision to achieve a level 5 maturity but not all leaders are willing to invest in something they do not completely understanding.

My approach is to educate the organization while gaging the maturity level with a goal to have the senior executives asking… “What is the appropriate Enterprise Architecture Practice for our organization?” and not “Do we need an Enterprise Architecture Practice?”

The course focuses on the 5 areas measured when gaging an organization’s EA Maturity level:

  1. EA Process and Activities – the tasks performed by the EA Team. EA is all about orchestrated change and it is the EA process and activities that put structure around organizational change. Having structure around change ensures potential risks and liabilities are addressed and that projects achieve business goals and objectives.
  2. EA Team – consists of five architectural disciplines lead by the Enterprise Architect. Each architectural discipline ensures their area of expertise is considered at all times. The leader of the EA team bridges the gap between business and technical.
  3. Governance – vehicle to manage organizational change.
  4. Business Processes – are what the organization does. Having a level 5 EA Maturity means all business processes are managed and monitored using KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and change is based on metrics of how well each of the business processes is performing.
  5. Organizational Commitment – Enterprise Architecture must be embedded within the full organization for it to be successful if there is not a commitment from the full organization a level 5 maturity will never be realized.

The course starts with walking you through the steps to understand the senior executive’s vision with respect to an EA Practice. Once the vision is understood the course will explain how to gage the organization’s current EA Maturity Level. By analyzing the current state and discussing what I have learned throughout my career I will help you identify the activities needed to move your organization from a level 0 maturity to a level 5.

EA – How to identify an organization’s vision and direction

Enterprise Architecture is about creating orchestrated change.  Understanding the vision and then designing a plan for how to move the organization from the current state to the future is one of the main objectives of an Enterprise Architect.

 The only way to do this is to understand the senior executive teams’ visions, priorities, and appetite for change.  Senior executives are the ones accountable and liable for the organization and for this “change” to be successful there must be one clear vision and direction endorsed by the FULL senior executive team. 

Time and time again I am asked… How do you get the senior executive team to land on one clear direction and more importantly how and what do you get them to prioritize?  My response to questions like those is… How much time do you have?

Every organization is different, and the answers depend on the environment and the people within it, there is no way to just give one answer to those questions.  What I can do is walk you through the process that I take to come up with the answers and along the way explain some of the hurdles I have run into.

I land on the vision by focussing on:

  • what the business of the organization is and what it should be,
  • the systems, both processes and applications within the organization and are they following industry best practices,
  • the strategic areas of change and what they mean to operations and
  • each of the individual senior executives’ thoughts and goals. 

I bring the full senior executive team together and challenge them on aspects of the four focus areas mentioned above, we explore status quo versus eutopia type scenarios.  Taking this approach will get discussions going and will lead to the best decision for the full organization with the one leader typically the CEO making the final decision.

I land on a prioritization by focussing on:

  • business capabilities or the functionality it takes to perform the business activities and
  • potential risks which includes such things as manual errors, inefficiencies, data integrity, safety, reputational and litigation to name just some.

Knowing that priorities must be driven from a risk, liability, compliance, value add and modernization perspective I apply potential risks to business capabilities. I then present them to the full senior executive team during a prioritization exercise where we explore what was observed during job shadowing sessions.

For a step by step guide demonstrating my approach using a fictitious organization – How to “DO” Enterprise Architecture – Part I – Creating the Consolidated Roadmap.

I want to help…

I have spent the last 30 years working in the IMIT field and I want to share my experience to help organizations during this uncertain time. My worry is that due to this social distancing it is almost impossible to bring experts in so we must come together and use the resources we have.

During this time it is the strategic resources that can help executives come up with a plan. A plan that will not only help them continue their services but help repurpose their staff so that they are not adding to this economic crisis.

Last week I put out a video showing how Business Architecture can help, and today I am offering my services free of charge. Please reach out if you would like to chat and learn more in addition to that I am creating a package to show step by step how to unleash the power of business Architecture and will make it available free of charge in the coming weeks.

My hope is some good can come out of this crisis…

Enterprise Architecture 101 for Executives… What Every Executive Needs to Know About EA!

I have created 5 short clips to explain Enterprise Architecture that every executive needs to see.

I start with a brief introduction…

Then I share my thoughts on what an Enterprise Architect is and the characteristics that make them successful…

Next I describe the process behind Enterprise Architecture and the keys to it’s success…

Now understand why EVERY organization needs EA…

The last piece of the puzzle is to understand the Architecture Team…

Watch for a course on how to assess the maturity of the Enterprise Architecture Practise within your organization…

Enterprise Architecture What Everyone Needs to Know

Well, my goal was to put out a post each week, then I thought maybe writing a book would be easier, and as you can tell I accomplished neither. I have now started a YouTube Series on Enterprise Architecture.

I have outlined a series that includes three chapters:

. Chapter 1 contains 5 videos geared to the senior executives. Here I talk about what enterprise architecture is and why every organization needs it.

. Chapter 2, yet to be recorded contains information geared to an enterprise architect and their direct report. Here I talk about the approaches I have used to begin an enterprise architecture practise within an organization. Time and time again I hear enterprise architecture doesn’t work. My first thought is you haven’t seen my approach have you?

.Chapter 3, yet to be designed is going to contain a number of videos geared to various positions within an organization. My thinking is I want to share how every position in the organization is important to the success of enterprise architecture and no only that but how every position can benefit from a mature enterprise architecture practise.

Please have a look at the videos and let me know what you think. Give me ideas of what you would like to see, and how I could improve on what I am doing .

My YouTube Series

Business transformation —- driving change from the business

I have started this post a number of times and kept thinking that this is too obvious of a topic and that I wouldn’t have enough to say but here it goes….

Business operations evolve over time.  New technologies emerge, people become more technically savvy, demands increase, and the world has become more of an online self service society.  ALL businesses/organizations need to keep up with the times.

IT (Information Technology) shouldn’t drive change…  I guess that statement is a little confusing because as I just stated businesses need to evolve to keep up with the changing technologies and society movements.  Maybe a better way to put it is when IT changes technology the reason behind it must be to achieve business goals and objectives.

What is business transformation?

A business is defined by what it does, and not by how it does it.  Transformation is changing how business is done.  This raises an interesting point… what is the difference between operational changes and transformation?

There are a lot of updates and changes that must be made to continue doing what you are currently doing, these type of changes are what I have been referring to as operational changes.   For example changes can be:

  1. a result of efficiencies determined from monitoring applications and processes and measuring against the KPIs (Key Progress Indicators),
  2. in response to policies, rules or regulations changes,
  3. due to security assessments,
  4. technology updates.

Transformation on the other hand is driven by business goals and/or objectives changing and can be triggered by a number of things foe example:

  1. Efficiency… the desire to reduce costs or increase productivity,
  2. Expectations… new leaders, or clients/members demands,
  3. Technologies… upgrades due to decommissioning or advancements and
  4. Amalgamation… combining organizations or departments.

Looking at each trigger independently:

  1. EFFICIENCY

Day to day operations monitor and improve areas in isolation, their goal is to do what they are currently doing as efficiently and effectively as possible.  As staff come and go changes are made and adopted based on assumptions and interpretations.  Applications, systems and processes may not be as efficient when you evaluate the full organization.

An EA has the ability to look at the big picture and identify duplication, overlaps and gaps across the organization.   Looking at the big picture can also identify risks and vulnerabilities that were invisible to any specific area in isolation.

2. EXPECTATIONS

Expectations come from both staff and clients, and have a tendency to change over the years as new leaders come and go, and as new information comes forward.

An EA has the ability to gather and document all expectations, weight them against each other and then evaluate them against the full organization.

3. TECHNOLOGY

As new products emerge IT determines which products do what the business is currently doing most effectively and efficiently.  The problem is what the business is currently doing isn’t necessarily the most effective solution for the business.  If you step back and really understand the business requirements and objectives you will find that some of what the business is currently doing is because of restrictions, misconceptions and assumptions over the years.

An EA never looks at just one element and never assumes the current way of doing things meets the business goals and objectives.  If technology is to be retired, or new purchases to be made an EA must start with the business requirements.  They must evaluate the business goals and objectives to determine the most effective way to achieve the business requirements, they must look for risks and vulnerabilities and they must evaluate based on business resources and priorities.

4. AMALGAMATION

Acquiring a new company, or merging departments, result in duplicate processes, systems and applications.  Running parallel  is inefficient and choosing one  over the other could impact expectations.

An EA has the ability to step back and look at the big picture. Starting with the business goals and objectives the EA can assess the current environment and put a design in place.   Not only does a merge impact the business processes, systems and applications but it also impacts the corporate processes, systems and applications.

 

Regardless of the trigger the transformation must start with understanding the business goals and objectives.  There must be a design documenting what is important and what the end goal looks like.  Understanding what you are starting with allows you to create a plan or roadmap ensuring the end goals and expectations are met.

Simply put an EA is used to design change similar to the building architect who is used to design a new house, an addition, or a renovation.  The first step to change must be gathering business requirements, creating a design and detailing out the plan.  It has to be done from an EA position even an IT change

The difference between Enterprise Architects and Solution Architects

In my opinion there is confusion around the architect positions.  I have seen some strange position titles with the word “architect” in them.  The way I like to explain the whole concept is by comparing organization architects to building architects.  The building architect’s main  focus is the design and integrity of a building whereas the organization architect’s main focus is the design and integrity of the whole operation.  There are 3 architectural levels as follows:

1. Building Architect – The role of a building architect is to understand the strategic goals and objectives of the building and create a design working within the city’s policies and standards.  This is true wether the design is a renovation, addition or a new build.  The end result is a blue print.

A building architect is not an electrician nor plumber and does not get into the wiring nor plumbing details but does have an appreciation of the trades and can highlight certain requirements.  Once the main blue print is created an electrician will take a copy and start over laying their designs, and a plumber will do the same thing.

2. Discipline Architects – Electricians and plumbers are examples of disciplines.  The role of an electrician for example is to understand the building codes that apply to electrical, add their design to the blue print, have the implementation inspected to ensure compliancy and coordinate with experts related to specialty electrical systems.  

For example the head electrician will direct staff to drill the holes and pull the wires implementing the design, schedule an inspector to ensure compliancy and coordinate with a home theatre specialist.

An electrician is not an expert in all of the different electrical systems. They will reach out to solution experts in this case the home theatre specialist to detail the designs for a home theatre system.  The electrician will coordinate among all of the electrical system experts.

3. Solution Architects – The home theatre specialist is an example of a solution architect.  They know their system inside and out, their sole focus is that one system.

Going back to the organization architects you will notice a similar pattern.

1. Enterprise Architect – The role of the enterprise architect is to understand the strategic goals and objectives of the organization and create a design.  The end result is a “TO BE Architecture” or Future Operating Model.  For more details around the role and responsibilities of an EA refer to my previous post.

2. Discipline Architects – The discipline architects focus on designs and standards within their area of discipline.  Their role is to work with the EA to understand the TO BE Architecture (similar to the blue print) and to over lay the details of their discipline.  They will create standards (similar to the building codes in the example above) to ensure consistency, reviews (similar to inspections in the example above) to ensure compliance and  create measures and tools as a way to monitor the day to day operations ensuring strategic goals continue to be met.  Looking at each discipline independently:

    1. The business architect is all about the user/customer/client experience, and efficient business processes.  The tools and measures center around KPIs (Key Progress Indicators).  The business process manager and business analyst are examples of roles that would use the measures and tools to ensure day to day operations continue to meet the goals.
    1. The data and information architects as their name states focus on data and information.  The difference between the two is the data architect usually focuses more within the database and the information architect deals with the bigger picture of enterprise content of which data is just one part.  This discipline works very closely with the business architect.  They must understand how information relates to the business, and how it is used within the processes so they can create standards around how to find, store, use, share and secure the data and information.
    1. The integration and application architects focus on software.  The difference between the two is the integration architect usually focuses more with the in’s and out’s of the different systems and how they communicate with each other.  The application architect deals with the bigger picture and focuses on the systems and functions including integration.  This discipline works with the business and information architects to understand how the functions relate to the business processes. They create standards ensuring applications are decommissioned to avoid duplication, upgrades happen to avoid unsupported software, and functions are efficient and shared across systems to avoid duplications and inconsistency.
    1. The technical and infrastructure architects focus on hardware.  They create standards related to the network, servers, and routers as a few examples.
    1. The security architect works closely with each of the other 4 disciplines adding the security components and standards.  They also create measures and tools to assist with risk assessments and security breaches.   

3. The solution architects – The solution architects are focused on individual areas or systems within an organization.  Each of the 5 disciplines have a number of solution architects to help detail out the specific pieces within their domain.  They are responsible for the designs, standards and measures related to their system.

In summary an architect does not implement nor run the day to day business, they create: 

  1. designs so everyone knows what they are working towards, 
  2. standards and guidelines to ensure consistency across the organization during implementation,
  3. reviews to ensure compliancy and
  4. measures and tools to ensure production is meeting the organizations goals and objectives. 

The difference between the Enterprise Architect and Solution Architect is the area of focus and the level of detail.

Do organizations need a full time Enterprise Architect position?

In order to answer the question: “Do Organizations need a full time EA position” let’s first discuss what an Enterprise Architect is and what their roles and responsibilities are.

An Enterprise Architect is an individual that analyzes the business and leads an organization through change by designing a future operational model depicting the technology and processes needed to achieve the strategic goals. The Enterprise Architect is the bridge that joins business and IT. 

The EA is responsible for architectural artifacts, standards and reviews that enforce consistency and drive the organization to their business goals and objectives.  Checks and measures are created as a way to determine whether or not the organization is meeting the business goals and objectives once the designs are implemented.  The Enterprise Architect brings forward innovation, risks and at the same time educates the executives.  They ensure business and IT are in alignment and that there is a transparency between the two.

Keys for a successful EA position:

  1. An EA crosses both the business and technical areas of an organization and must report to the CEO to be successful.
  1. An EA does not need to know the business to be successful.  They must have access to the full executive team in order to determine the executive strategic goals and objectives.  It is the executive team that defines objectives, goals and success.
  1. The organization must be ready for change and have a team that supports the people throughout the movement towards the future operating model. 
  1. A transformation governance structure must be in place to facilitate the movement towards the future operating model.

The Enterprise Architect is an essential position to drive an organization to their strategic goals and objectives and to position them to ensure they continue to meet them as they evolve over time.  An EA does not participate in a day to day operational organization, their strength is business transformation.