EA Effectiveness Series: Highly Impactful EA Organizations Make Value Driven Decisions

Mike The Architect Blog: Value Driven Decisions

A big thank you to all the folks that came to my presentation at the Troux World Conference last week. We had a full room of enterprise architects and EA consultants. Thank you for all your support and great questions. 

I wanted to  share with all of you my presentation given at the conference. Just like with most of my presentations there are lots of images that require a voice over. So, my apologies to those who are seeing this for the first time without hearing it in person. To remedy that a bit, I will post about the concepts form within the presentation over the course of the next few weeks . 




Enterprise Architects are faced with a rapidly changing business climate, competitive pressures and a shifting technology landscape that is forcing the enterprise to evolve. With this acceleration of change in the market it requires faster decisions that are well informed to maximize value. Enterprise Architects are at the tip of the spear to enable this change but need the tools.

In this session I will explore one of the proven practices that I have found from highly impactful Enterprise Architecture (EA) organizations, namely enterprise portfolios. Enterprise portfolios extend past the traditional project and program discipline to cover all aspects of the enterprise. Moving from disconnected, static and context-less pieces of data to a governed portfolio of enterprise knowledge that can maximize value and mitigate risk to our businesses.



International Standards, Reference Models and Publications Quick Guide

Mike the Architect  Standards Header

Van Haren Publishing recently published their 2012 – 2013 Global Standards and Publications book free online for all to use. 

I look at this book as a quick guide or a primer to the landscape of standards globally. The purpose isn’t to give you deep knowledge into each one of these but rather give the overall landscape of standards that you can leverage in your day to day architecture efforts. As you seen in frameworks like TOGAF where the first step in is to “Select Reference Models”, this is a one list you can pull from to see if there is any reuse out there so you don’t have to go into the “think tank” and reinvent a practice, standard or tool that is already been vetted in the community. 

This book does a great job pulling in emerging standards and even some of the lesser known ones as well from around the globe. Below is a list of the standards covered in the book:

  • Agile
  • Amsterdam Information Management Model (AIM)
  • ArchiMate®
  • ASL®
  • Balanced Scorecard
  • BiSL®
  • CATS CM®
  • CMMI®
  • COBIT®
  • EFQM
  • eSCM-CL
  • eSCM-SP
  • Frameworx
  • ICB®
  • ISO 9001
  • ISO 14000
  • ISO/IEC 15504
  • ISO/IEC 27000 series
  • ISO 31000
  • ISO 38500
  • ISO/IEC 20000
  • ITIL®
  • Lean management
  • M_o_R®
  • MoP™
  • MSP®
  • P3O®
  • PMBOK® Guide
  • PRINCE2®
  • SABSA®
  • Scrum
  • Six Sigma
  • SqEME®
  • TMap® NEXT
  • TOGAF®


Download the publication here:




Good High-Level Enterprise Architecture Video

I ran across a really good high-level Enterprise Architecture video last week and thought I would share. It’s brought to us by ArchimateMusings blog. This looks to be a video that his company created to articulate EA’s overall function and value proposition. Here is the description of the video:

This animation shows the role of Enterprise Architecture starting from the perspective of a business user. That user has understandable wishes and requests, and the IT decisions made for him all make sense. But the result of all business users doing this independently is a ‘hair ball architecture’. The role of Enterprise Architecture to prevent this from happening is illustrated.

The video was created by T36 (http://http://www.t36.nl) in Maastricht, The Netherlands for APG Asset Management (http://www.apg.nl/apgsite/pages/english/services/asset-management/). T36 created the story board from interviews with APG AM’s Lead Architect, Gerben Wierda. The video is owned by APG and it may move to an APG-owned channel later.

I wanted to share this with everyone because I think it’s important for EA’s to have a rich set of visuals, examples and media to facilitate the continous education process with our customers. While the video didn’t speak of strategy and business enablement directly, I do think this is a good primer or overview of some key value propositions for EA.


What can Enterprise Architects Learn from Steve Jobs?


I was at the Architecture Summit this weekend and we spun up a roundtable topic based on Steve Jobs. I quickly stepped back and reflected more precisely on the topic of what we as Enterprise Architects can learn from Steve Jobs.

I think the learnings are less about his actions or lack there of, but more to his core in his principles and values. Like many CIO’s their demeanor and tenacity isn’t for the faint of heart.

Below are the key principles that I think EA’s can learn from Steve Jobs:

  1. Focus and clarity – Know your business and focus on what is important. Job’s established rules that there will be a core focus and spent hours declining projects because they didn’t align to the priority areas. It’s so easy for EA’s to be randomized by things that frankly don’t matter to the business of EA. In an EA program or an engagement/project determine what architecture models, descriptions or even meetings align to your business goals and objectives.
  2. Purposefulness – Uniquely, Jobs was able to get to the root of “why” or the purpose behind all things he did. Likewise with EA we must make sure we always get to the root of our purpose and how to fulfill it.
  3. Simplicity – We all know that Apple products are simple but this is a real art to take something complex and make it really intuitive and easy to use. I always fall back to, "Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler" by Albert Einstein.
  4. Results Driven – By combining the focus, clarity and purposefulness with performance based and intuitiveness Jobs really stood out. EA’s could leverage this principle to go back and make sure they are producing results and not just pontificating.
  5. Discipline – Jobs and the overall apple team is known for their extreme rigor and discipline. This shows in their products as the quality is extremely high. The overall EA industry is maturity but there are still well adopted practices that we as EA’s could be more rigorous in our delivery. This comes down to predictable and repeatable results that generates high business value. Discipline + the others we build on make a powerful combination as it ensure we create things of high quality and they matter.
  6. Big Bets – Go big or go home! This principle is all about knowing what to bet big on and executing on it without backing down. Obviously we don’t pull this card often but when we need to we should. This is especially true when we see how disruptive technologies will enable our business.
  7. No Compromise – When it came to quality and meeting the vision there was no compromise. EA’s could use this principle to protect the business such as regulatory compliance, non-functional and functional requirements. This one needs careful balance though, EA’s don’t want to be viewed as stonewalling the organization either. However, you could also argue that if our business model of EA was perfected and we had better traceability to what the business wants we could execute on this principle more?
  8. Emotional Attachment – Jobs had it with his products we as EA’s have it with the designs we create and the relationships we build. For me this really boils down to emotional intelligence. It’s all about having an emotional connection with the businesses we serve.


What Enterprise Architects can Learn from Designers

Warren Berger from the Harvard Business Review Blogs posts a really good article titled The Four Phases of Design Thinking. he contrasts the lessons we could learn from traditional designers.

The four lessons are:
1. Question
2. Care
3. Connect
4. Commit

These are great. I agree a great deal with the article entirely there is a lot of truth to what is being said. I had to laugh for a minute when I read the piece about responses to questions being asked. I used to hear the 22 year bit a great deal when I was in Financial Services space but now I hear more ego or territorial responses in the other industry segments. even though you get those responses it is important to be persistent. I talked a bit about this in my response to the "State of Enterprise Architecture" post.

The care element is not new in principle but is typically stated as "Trusted Advisor" or "Relationship Management". Either way, I like the empathy element of this. It's more than just understand the issues but to empathize with the current pain points, what the customer is not receiving, or the history of events that led up to this point. Enterprise Architects and other roles like them are well equipped for this job. They should be the front line for customer care. Empathy based relationship management should be core.

Connect is critical as well. If you delver a product that is unusable or is not as desired your customer will not use or will not get the right level of adoption you are looking for. As Enterprise Architects we need to sniff these issues out. If a product isn't usable it shouldn't of been built at all.

Very simply, commit equals credibility. This is all about agile delivery of frequent deliveries for rapid feedback. This is where Agile processes like Scrum fit well. If you can not deliver you will not be trusted, you will not have a seat at the table to ask the right questions, to be empathetic, or deliver on a well aligned and useful product. This makes it real.

Here is a portion of the article:

Question. If you spend any time around designers, you quickly discover this about them: They ask, and raise, a lot of questions. Often this is the starting point in the design process, and it can have a profound influence on everything that follows. Many of the designers I studied, from Bruce Mau to Richard Saul Wurman to Paula Scher, talked about the importance of asking "stupid questions"–the ones that challenge the existing realities and assumptions in a given industry or sector. The persistent tendency of designers to do this is captured in the joke designers tell about themselves. How many designers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Does it have to be a light bulb?

In a business setting, asking basic "why" questions can make the questioner seem naïve while putting others on the defensive (as in, "What do you mean 'Why are we doing it this way?' We've been doing it this way for 22 years!"). But by encouraging people to step back and reconsider old problems or entrenched practices, the designer can begin to re-frame the challenge at hand — which can then steer thinking in new directions. For business in today's volatile marketplace, the ability to question and rethink basic fundamentals — What business are we really in? What do today's consumers actually need or expect from us? — has never been more important.

Care. It's easy for companies to say they care about customer needs. But to really empathize, you have to be willing to do what many of the best designers do: step out of the corporate bubble and actually immerse yourself in the daily lives of people you're trying to serve. What impressed me about design researchers such as Jane Fulton Suri of IDEO was the dedication to really observing and paying close attention to people — because this is usually the best way to ferret out their deep, unarticulated needs. Focus groups and questionnaires don't cut it; designers know that you must care enough to actually be present in people's lives.

Connect. Designers, I discovered, have a knack for synthesizing–for taking existing elements or ideas and mashing them together in fresh new ways. This can be a valuable shortcut to innovation because it means you don't necessarily have to invent from scratch. By coming up with "smart recombinations" (to use a term coined by the designer John Thackara), Apple has produced some of its most successful hybrid products; and Nike smartly combining a running shoe with an iPod to produce its groundbreaking Nike Plus line (which enables users to program their runs). It isn't easy to come up with these great combos. Designers know that you must "think laterally" — searching far and wide for ideas and influences — and must also be willing to try connecting ideas that might not seem to go together. This is a way of thinking that can also be embraced by non-designers.

Commit. It's one thing to dream up original ideas. But designers quickly take those ideas beyond the realm of imagination by giving form to them. Whether it's a napkin sketch, a prototype carved from foam rubber, or a digital mock-up, the quick-and-rough models that designers constantly create are a critical component of innovation — because when you give form to an idea, you begin to make it real.

But it's also true that when you commit to an idea early — putting it out into the world while it's still young and imperfect — you increase the possibility of short-term failure. Designers tend to be much more comfortable with this risk than most of us. They know that innovation often involves an iterative process with setbacks along the way — and those small failures are actually useful because they show the designer what works and what needs fixing. The designer's ability to "fail forward" is a particularly valuable quality in times of dynamic change. Today, many companies find themselves operating in a test-and-learn business environment that requires rapid prototyping. Which is just one more reason to pay attention to the people who've been conducting their work this way all along.

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