Sometimes trying to do the right thing can be tough. Especially when your going through collaborative interactions (that maybe outside your comfort zone) with your business partners can be down right frustrating. And I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual as well.
I feel that the problem comes in where you have too many parties trying to make sense of information that they have no one person has background in. This is difficult for the person communicating this complicated data but equally as frustrating is the person on the receiving end trying to translate Latin to English.
So there is a communication divide and finding the right ways of dealing with it poses its own challenges.
I have found that developing something called, “on a page” deliverables can help communicating to people across business and IT quickly and clearly take in a high-level view of the organization’s strategy, business outcomes, business capabilities and initiatives. It reduces the complexity of the organization to a single picture that shows the key elements, priorities and interrelationships. It also helps address a key challenge for enterprise architects — communicating and building relationships with business executives.
There are shared characteristics across these:
- Reduce complexity — It is intended to be largely visual and color-coded, with short bulleted text. Ideally, it should fit comfortably on an A3 sheet of paper, so it can be folded and easily carried around and can be understood in minutes.
- Show key “building blocks” — Key elements such as business strategy and goals, business outcomes, business capabilities, and initiatives are represented.
- Identify priorities — The relative importance of business outcomes, capabilities and so on can be highlighted through the use of color-coding, for example.
- Show interrelationships — Linkages between business strategy, capabilities and initiatives can be shown.
In my personal experience, the “on a page” often forms the focal point for executive discussion and decision making. Many business executives that I’ve worked with like to carry the model with them for reference.
One of my go to “on a pagers” is the strategy on a page model. The elements of the strategy on a page are not fixed, so you can tailor the elements to meet the needs of your organization — for example:
- Use elements that make sense for your organization — Use the language and terminology of your organization. For example, some companies like “value chains,” so include that element (this is one of the templates in the attachment).
- Include other elements where needed — Depending on what business outcomes you’re driving, you might want to include other elements such as “executive concerns” or “IT strategy.”
- Create views — Specific stakeholders, or initiatives, may want views of their own, so rather than having one complicated strategy on a page, create the views you need.
Don’t forget this is intended to be a high-level view that shows the key elements of your strategy, business outcomes and business capabilities. Do not overcomplicate it — when developing your business “on a page”, be clear about the key messages or ideas you want the reader to take from the model.
Here are a Few Other Examples
This isn’t an exhaustive list, just a few that are representative of the concept.
Opportunity on a Page
I used this quite a bit while at Microsoft to convey complex architectures and emerging technology in a business oriented way.
Strategy on a Page
Or another great example is a Strategy on a Page. A business strategy on a page can help enterprise architects, CIOs, and other IT leaders to engage business executives and key stakeholders with credibility and trust through a well-understood knowledge of the business needs and direction.
The CEB version is a really good example of what good looks like here:
Business Capability Models
These pull together the broad view of the future capabilities a business needs to deliver to achieve its strategy. EA practitioners should understand the value it creates. Link the business capabilities that will be enhanced, diminished or created.