Tag Archives: design thinking

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Digital Design and Enterprise Architecture – what is it?

Category:digital transformation,enterprise architecture,governance Tags : 

Enterprise Architecture and Digital Design Digital, what is it?

Likely you will find as many answers as you will find people to ask, unfortunately, that is so. Maybe because the discipline is relatively “young”, or maybe as suggested by Martin v.d. Berg because practitioners and researchers put different meaning into the term; but likely also because it is seen as “supporting” rather than a “line” activity so the term “decision support” associates with it. Clearly, there are more interpretations to what it is.

If you smell the words, “Enterprise” and “Architecture”, you will likely ask yourself, what is an “enterprise”? and what is an enterprise architecture then? The term somehow makes it more theoretic, at the risk of sinking like captain Carlsen on his SS Enterprise, which in fact was his enterprise, a ship. In most cases, we can replace the word “enterprise” with “your entire business” or “your organisation with customers and market”, even though we would argue an enterprise could be a business unit or simply the entire or a subset of the business. In any case, business overall with an end-to-end perspective. “Architecture” on the other hand is about structure, how things are connected, what they are composed of, how they are used, how they look and are perceived. We often talk about good or bad architecture based on our experience, durability and interaction. In any case, everyone has a saying of this.

James Lapalme previously has argued, that Enterprise Architecture (EA) could be seen as one of three schools, either the Enterprise integrating, Enterprise IT architecting or Enterprise ecological adaption, where this post takes the proposition to put emphasize on the strategy to execution, marked more blue than the others; see Fig.

Enterprise Architecture is often expressed along-side strategy. That is, you may be manager for strategy & enterprise architecture as a combined title. It does give a clue, that enterprise architecture is about strategic thinking, about decision support with a focus end-to-end.

Enterprise architecture (EA) is a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analysing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes.

Gartner

With such a definition, EA is the authority to lead enterprise responses by working with external disruptive forces, disruptive? This clearly brings EA into the strategic space working with future solutions to achieve vision and outcomes, if need be also with breaking structures and processes or even acquiring new offerings.

At the core, EA is about the bridging between where we currently are, and the future to achieve desired business vision and outcomes. Then this is the tricky stuff, how to help an organisation to transition successfully into the future? This is what EA practitioners refer to as transition architectures, small pieces of planning to provide strategy-to-execution. Often EA practitioners then put actions into roadmaps, so roadmaps are key for making influence more actionable.

Darwin put it slightly different in a different context with “survival of the fittest”, EA is about your “enterprise” survival, what planning do we collectively need to do to be “fittest” and succeed in the market. It is less about doing it, but to inform and encourage management to stay on-course using an enterprise perspective. With reference to J. Ross, we often refer to this as “digital design” (as opposed to many small solutions with individual designs), some would refer to this as enterprise design.

EA is decision-support and enterprise design; based on information and data (not only data). The more we can digitalise the creation of information from data, the closer we get to the core of EA, what to do with it. While Operations focus on today’s services to customers, EA is planning with the perspective of what services do we need in the future, and how to transform the organisation to make that happen. Strategy is sometimes about pace (do more, move faster), sometimes about the unforeseen changes (new competitor, disruptive forces) where market changes force a set of decisions to be made quickly to succeed in the future.

How to make such decisions? That is what EA is all about with frequent updates, collaboration, and enterprise governance – we talk about it as iterative and integrated as it connects tools and integrates business end-to-end. For IT and CI items it integrates with CMDB, around financials it integrates with Finance, and so on. EA is often staffed with senior people as it is a broad role that connects stuff from front-end to back-end of the organisation. It is about long-term business change enabled by collaboration and planning to deal with pace and disruptive forces. Building organisations around EA provides help you to achieve corporate agility to adapt faster to new external forces.

To staff a team to succeed with EA, you need to have more skills represented, see related blog. Finally, working with architecture services, please be aware that there are more architectural practices, please see picture.

Architecture roles – what roles exist?

The following drawing is a simple representation of typical architecture roles, where the Enterprise Architect is the broadest role. Architecture is more than one discipline: To manage detail is different from the enterprise perspective.  The various architecture roles are related, yet very different in skillsets required and target delivery.

The Infrastructure Architect has an important role in keeping IT Operations in mint condition – often tightly coupled to the IT Service Management (ITSM).

The Software Architect has a different role which puts focus on the development of an application that solves stakeholder needs. Such work must be detailed meeting all requirements through properly design, development, documentation, and testing.

The Solution Architect is often linked to project architecture with a focus on how projects get scoped to delivery with a perspective to make a design that is valid post project closure.

The Business Architect has a slightly different skillset – more focused on market and business analysis. This is very often connected to business management, business processes and the strategy development of a business area or future revenue stream.

The Data Architect has a more detailed focus on data management and bringing fresh data between systems to support information and business insights.

The Enterprise Architect seems to do somehow a little of all of that with a perspective to look more end-to-end, secure alignment to the overall corporate strategy and direction, closing the gap between why and how. Focus is often on knowledge sharing, collaboration, planning and compliance to ensure best patterns are selected and re-used towards strategy fulfilment.

We are in the business of helping you to provide successful business change to execute your strategy – reach out if you need advice how to build you architecture office.

 


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How “Design Thinking” improves corporate performance

Category:EA,Services Tags : 

How can a design process impact an overall corporate performance? Design Thinking really is a mindset or a paradigm of how an organisation works with human-centred problems; it is the soft skills that make the execution successful. And working with improving performance and governance, a successful execution of such an initiative is often more about the human adaptation where the mindset and behaviour is tackled better and where creativity, collaboration and iterations are factored into the approach.  It does require buy-in from the top management, but also requires buy-in from the contributors. Succeeding with strategy is more than a single person to work differently.

According to Jen Sheahan, Design Thinking should be perceived as a “mindset”; a way of approaching problems that are human-centred, but as such is nothing new. Design thinking has some interpretations associated, however, when we apply it with information management and strategy to execution, it can be boiled down to the following solution elements:

–         Preto-type

–         Collaborative

–         Short-Cycled

–         Sprints

Let’s go through these to understand why Design Thinking is considered a wise approach that may seem “lightweight”, but often also shows faster-to-market, cheaper and with higher chance of reaching the targeted outcome. As such Design Thinking is agnostic to technology, however, it does put requirements on technology to support the rapid developments embedded in the new mindset. This why we have chosen to work only with predefined technologies (MooD, Signavio, …) that support the mindset of Design Thinking.

Preto-type:
One should look up the pretotyping manifesto or some of the you tubes of Alberto Savoia. Where prototype is about developing an “early” product, pretotype is about testing the idea before building anything. And this concept can easily be applied to strategy execution and architecture, simply to support fail-fast and ensure validation of the outcome is done all-through the learning-curve of an implementation; in other words, secure validation is constantly part of development – not left entirely to testing at the end.

Collaborative:
One should look up the talk to yourself hat, by Kate Hartman to value the perspective, that architecture is not meant for architects; likewise, strategies are not meant for strategists. The entire idea of the execution is to provide a solution that interacts with people to support the collaboration and democratisation of data. This is often the hardest requirement on supporting technology where BI tools and EA tools often come short with heavy clients that allow only collaboration within specialised sub communities.

Short-Cycled:
To tackle improved business performance, Gartner operates with a market guide called Enterprise Business Process Analysis (EBPA) which is the discipline of business modelling aimed at transforming and improving business performance with an emphasis on cross viewpoint, cross function analysis and strategic decision support aimed at improving business outcomes. The fundamental principles of this performance improvement is short-cycled delivery, a light-weight but robust modelling and governance that provides frequent updates like Dev-Ops and many of the agile concepts. This is the fundamental for providing constant delivery.

Sprints:
In the discussion around agile (which to a large extend may be categorized as short-cycled), there is typically a need to structure epics and use-cases into sprints, simply as to communicate and focus development in a larger picture. The structuring of work into Sprints is key to align with management and stakeholders to provide “planning”. Management should focus on the agility and changes of the environment, hence, the ubiquitous purpose of sprints is to support the strategic planning to be prepared.

We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning. If you have questions, please make contact. We are a consulting house with senior profiles and business solutions; we provide deep expertise in digital planning, digital governance and process automation. We power your digital mood!