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AT#29: Soft Factors of Architecture – Part 1: Trust

AT#29: Soft Factors of Architecture – Part 1: Trust

The stake of Business- and Enteprise Architecture is to ensure that the overall IT landscape and its solutions stay maintainable instead of increasing complexity with each project. Architects, usually without formal authority over other persons working in the projects, have to find soft ways to drive their stake,  and this is always the hardest part of the job. 

“In Enterprise Architecture roles, emotional intelligence (EQ) accounts for more than 90% of a person’s performance and success.”
[Gartner Group]

I have been working in the field of Enterprise Architecture (EA) for almost 12 years now. Over these years I have seen many unsuccessful EA initiatives. Half of the large IT transformation projects I worked in failed to a large degree due to insufficient influence of the architecture team. EAs often simply did not have the “right”social/soft skills.

Motivated by this observation I want to start a series of posts that deal with the “soft factors” of architecture, which are IMHO way more relevant than the analytical/technical bias prevalent in the field of EA. Today’s part 1 explains why building trust should be prio 1 for EAs.

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Three Steps to Regain Control over your IT Landscape

Three Steps to Regain Control over your IT Landscape

Most IT landscapes of larger companies consist of hundreds of applications that are interconnected via poorly designed interfaces. In most companies, these IT landscapes already have an enormous technical debt (i.e., an ‘unnecessary complexity’). In my experience, a company typically runs between 80% and 90% more IT applications (and therefore also servers, databases, networks, costs) compared to what would be needed if it had implemented the ideal architecture. A tremendous waste of money and resources, and the reason why IT is perceived as tardy and as a cost factor and not as an enabler. From my point of view, there are three major reasons for this disastrous situation:

Business Units are not aware of their responsibility for their applications and do not think architecturally

There is a tendency to blame the IT department for this situation, but that’s not true. It’s a business problem. Requirements are typically not consolidated well across departments. IT has always just been the contractor who had to implement those punctual requirements under time pressure. Read More

AT#27: Capability Modeling Crash Course – Elicitation Recipe

AT#27: Capability Modeling Crash Course – Elicitation Recipe

Last week we completed our three-post crash course. We received lots of feedback and questions about how to elicit capabilities with the business people. The blog series reached an audience of thousands of people. For that reason, we decided to add a fourth – “da capo” post.

The previous post in this blog-series discussed why capabilities are the invaluable core of Architectural Thinking, how to use your existing process- or value stream maps and how to structure capabilities. Today we present how capabilities should be elicited by the business architect by a broad participation of business stakekholders.  Enjoy!

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AT#26: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 3

AT#26: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 3

Capability modeling seems simple but is hard to do in practice. If you browse literature or the internet you’ll find only very little advice. No ‘Capability Modeling Guide’ out there. To change that, the Architectural Thinking Framework includes a draft of detailed guidelines that show how to model capabilities step-by-step.

Last week we discussed how to apply industry-specific capability reference models and how to use your existing process- or value stream maps. Today we provide step-by-step instructions to design a map that is easy to be understood by business stakeholders. Enjoy!

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AT#25: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 2

AT#25: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 2

Capability modeling seems simple but is hard to do in practice. If you browse literature or the internet you’ll find only very little advice. No ‘Capability Modeling Guide’ out there. To change that, the Architectural Thinking Framework includes a draft of detailed guidelines that show how to model capabilities step-by-step.

Last week we defined the term ‘Capability’ and discussed why they are invaluable. Today we continue our series with part 2 of 3. Enjoy! Read More

AT#24: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 1

AT#24: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 1

In recent years, the idea of business capability modeling has emerged in the EA community. Much has been written about the idea of capability modeling, and it can even be said that we are facing a ‘capability hype’. You can find capability models for many industries on the internet. There are many industry-specific consortiums that try to model the business functions of that particular industry in the form of capabilities.

Capability modeling seems simple but is hard to do in practice. If you browse literature or the internet you’ll find only very little advice. No ‘Capability Modeling Guide’ out there. To change that, the Architectural Thinking Framework includes a draft of detailed guidelines that show how to model capabilities step-by-step.

Today we start a series of three blog posts that provide a capability modeling crash course. It includes the experience of ten years of trial and error in several companies and review by many practitioners.

 

Definition: Capability

A business capability is a core of ‘what’ a business does, a technique for the representation of an organisation’s business anchor model, independent of the organisation’s structure, processes, people or domains [GartnerGlossary]

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AT#23: How to use your Wisdom to make existing Practices agile

AT#23: How to use your Wisdom to make existing Practices agile

Whenever I discuss with people from the Agile world what ‘Agile’ is all about, they tell me that it’s very core is a mindset that is established through values and principles.

All agile practices, methods, and frameworks evolve out of this mindset. Ahmed Sidky visualizes this idea in his ->webinar:

 

 

When I saw this picture my gut told me that there is something fundamentally wrong with this idea. It took me weeks to find out why: Read More

AT#22: Digital Transformation – What Companies should learn from ‘Christkindlmarkt’ Vienna

AT#22: Digital Transformation – What Companies should learn from ‘Christkindlmarkt’ Vienna

A recent article by an Austrian newspaper stated that the growth in sales of the ‘Christkindlmarkt’ Vienna exceeds the turnover growth of online shops by 30%. At the first instant, I was quite surprised by this fact. After some contemplation, I asked myself questions like:

  • Could it be that we admire companies like Amazon too much?
  • Do we live in an age that believes too much in technology and progress?
  • Are companies of the old economy aware of their tremendous strengths that still keep them in front of innovative startups like Fintechs?
  • Is the hype of digital transformation slowing down because of the reality of real, tangible assets that can not be disrupted by internet companies?

After answering these questions from my point of view I would give the following recommendations: Read More

AT#20: Why Digital Transformation fails without Architecture

AT#20: Why Digital Transformation fails without Architecture

Structure not only increases our chance to success,
it makes us more efficient at it.’ – Marshall Goldsmith

When people discuss digital transformation, they talk mostly about innovation, agility and new technologies. Companies put a tremendous amount of effort into initiatives that should make them more agile and innovative, but most of the companies I know do not manage their innovation initiatives towards a big architectural picture. The overly complex structure of dependencies between innovation- and other projects, and between new technologies and legacy-IT, are not handled with intent. Just present a fancy technology to top-level executives. If it has a low time-to-market and includes AI, chances are high that you can do it. No matter if it’s integration with legacy IT results in unnecessary complexity, ‘technical debt’ that introduces a total cost of ownership that outnumbers the business benefits by far. No matter if it is architecturally sound.

Let’s have a closer look at what ‘architecturally sound’ means, what architecture is all about and why the concept of architecture is helpful, especially in the context of innovation: Read More

AT#19 The only effective Way to drive Digital Transformation

AT#19 The only effective Way to drive Digital Transformation

For a long time, setting the direction of a company was done by a small group of top executives that elaborated a detailed business strategy. Business strategies typically define goals that are normally associated with the creation of value for the coming ten years or so. The concept of ‘Business Strategy’ has been introduced in the 60ies by [Chandler62]. 

This 50+ years old concept is still valid today. What has changed dramatically over these 50+ years is the planning horizon. The notion of ‘long-term’ became shorter and shorter. Today, in the VUCA world, there is no ‘long-term’ anymore. Strategies become more fluid, like software that needs constant upgrading. The reality, today, is that most companies do not have a clearly written out strategy. Why formulate a strategy any more when things are changing before you have your strategy ready?

But how do you make strategic decisions without a clear, verbalized strategy? The answer is given by [Westermann14]:

‘The only effective way we’ve seen to drive transformation is top-down, through strong senior executive direction coupled with methods that engage workers in making the change happen by setting direction, building momentum, and ensuring that the company follows through. This kind of change does not happen through a simple mandate, it must be lead. Among the companies we studied, none have created true digital transformation through a bottom-up approach. Successful transformation starts at the top of the companies’.

What you should do: Read More