October 31, 2007

Contingency Theory and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric EA seeks to develop an organization both through integration and differentiation.

In Lawrence and Lorsch's groundbreaking work "Organization and Environment," the authors explore the implications of integration and differentiation in the enterprise.

  • Integration is the "state of collaboration that exists among departments that are required to achieve unity of effort."
  • Differentiation is when different departments have different structures and orientations (such as short-term versus long-term outlooks or relationship versus task foci).

Both integration and differentiation can be useful in different environments. For example, in stable environments an integrated organization tends to function best, while in an uncertain or turbulent environment, an organization that is differentiated internally has greater prospects for success. A key finding of Lawrence and Lorsch’s research was that the most successful organizations simultaneously achieved high levels of both.

Contingency theory states that there is not one best way for an organization in terms of structure or leadership style. Rather, according to contingency theory, it is best to vary the organizational structure and management style depending on the environment in which the enterprise operates.

EA should plan for organizations in various environments. No one plan can be successful in every type of environment. Therefore, EA should use contingency theory to develop options or alternate paths for an organization to take depending on the landscape it finds itself in. Refining the degree of differentiation and integration of departments in the enterprise is one way to navigate in different operational environments. Centralizing or decentralizing decision making, situational leadership, and altering task versus people orientation are just some of the other factors that can be varied to adjust to changing environments. The key is to keep the options open, to be nimble and agile with planning, so that the enterprise is not hamstrung by ill-conceived plans that were developed for a future state that may not exist.


October 30, 2007

Apple’s OS Leopard and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 25 October 207 reports that Apple’s new operating system (OS), Leopard, is “faster, easier than [Microsoft’s] Vista.”

Overall “the Mac is on a roll…Macintosh computers has surged in popularity in the past few years, with sales growing much faster than the overall PC market, especially in the U.S. By some measures, Mac laptops are now approaching a 20% share of U.S. non-corporate sales.”

Reasons for Mac’s recent success:

  1. Security problems inherent in Windows platform
  2. Spillover from success of Apples iPod music players
  3. Macs can now run Windows (with third party software Fusion, can run OS X and Windows simultaneously)
  4. Apple’s hot retail stores
  5. Mac versatile, easy to use OS X (now called Leopard, previous version called Tiger)

Advantages of OS X versus Microsoft Vista

  1. Apple has upgraded far more rapidly (~ every 18 months) versus Microsoft (5+ years)
  2. Faster than Vista
  3. Easier to use than Vista
  4. Preinstalled on all new Macs
  5. Sold in 1 full featured upgrade version for $129 versus Microsoft 4 upgrade versions for between $100-$249 (from basic to ultimate)
  6. Automatic backup of entire computer (called Time Machine)
  7. Free software to run Windows on a Mac (called Boot Camp)
  8. Few to none of the compatibility problems with printers that Vista has

Apple continues to be the technological leader, ahead of Microsoft, in terms of functionality, user-friendliness, speed, and the cool factor. From a User-centric EA perspective, Apple is the game to beat, even though Microsoft remains the 800 pound gorilla. As an EA practitioner, I am trained to look 3-5 years ahead and it is hard to not see Apple continuing to make major inroads against Microsoft.


October 29, 2007

The Architect of Destruction: Adolf Hitler

While I know that Hitler was a despicable human being (if he even was a human being) and that I’m pushing the limits on the discussion on enterprise architecture by looking back in history at the vile acts that were perpetrated through the lens of enterprise architecture—nevertheless I find it compelling to look at what happened through this lens. I also know that this is a very cursory exploration of this topic, but nevertheless I want to at least introduce it. Hitler used the finest German engineering and business process acumen, coupled with the latest technological advances of his time, to drive his malevolent ends.

Thus Hitler (“may his name and memory be erased”) was an enterprise architect, although maybe not in the modern sense of the way we think of one working for a Fortune 500 company or in the U.S. federal government (fulfilling the mandates of the Clinger-Cohen Act).

Hitler presided over Germany (1933-1945) and architected the German war machine and the obliteration of 1/3 of the world’s Jews (over 6 million men, women, and children!) and well as millions of other innocent victims whom he considered sub-human or just in the way of his plan for world domination.

In his book Mein Kampf, Hitler writes:

  • In a few days I myself knew that I should some day become an architect. To be sure, it was an incredibly hard road; for the studies I had neglected….the fulfillment of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.”

While Hitler did not end up becoming an architect-architect, he did become a type of enterprise architect, in the sense that he developed a baseline for Germany (what they were, defeated and shamed after WWI), developed a target for Nazi totalitarianism, world domination, and the obliteration of the Jewish people, and he set out on a transition plan for achieving his objectives. Not only this, but he and his henchmen were masters of business process engineering, using the latest technologies of the time to kill and conquer.

  • BASELINE: Germany was defeated and degraded after WWI. “The Treaty of Versailles deprived Germany of various territories, demilitarized the Rhineland and imposed other economically damaging sanctions. The culpability of Germany was used as a basis to impose reparations on Germany. Germany in turn perceived the treaty and especially the paragraph on the German guilt as a humiliation.”
  • TARGET: Hitler documented his detailed plans for Germany’s conquest of the world and the extermination of the Jews in Mein Kampf. “The book was an autobiography and an exposition of his ideology. It was published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926…in Mein Kampf, Hitler announces his hatred toward what he believed to be the twin evils of the world: Communism and Judaism. The new territory that Germany needed to obtain would properly nurture the ‘historic destiny’ of the German people.”

  1. Hitler architected the rise of Germany. “Hitler oversaw one of the greatest expansions of industrial production and civil improvement Germany had ever seen. The unemployment rate was cut substantially, mostly through arms production. Hitler also oversaw one of the largest infrastructure-improvement campaigns in German history, with the construction of dozens of dams, autobahns (highways), railroads, and other civil works. Hitler's government sponsored architecture on an immense scale.”
  2. The extermination of Jews was a planned and systematic process. “The massacres that led to the coining of the word "genocide" (or "Final Solution of the Jewish Question") were planned and ordered. Moreover, Hitler had pored over the first blueprints of gas chambers. Hitler was recorded saying to his associates, ‘we shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jews.’ Extermination camps were the apex of Nazi engineering. Extermination camps were one type of facility that Nazi Germany built during World War II for the systematic killing of millions of people. The majority of prisoners brought to extermination camps were not expected to survive more than 24 hours beyond arrival.”

(Adapted from Wikipedia)

So we see that while enterprise architecture can be a tool for good (like improving organizational performance and mission execution), it can also be used for evil in the hands of a malevolent psychopath like Adolf Hitler.


Cloud Computing and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 8 October 2007 reported that IBM and Google “are starting a program on college campuses to promote computer programming techniques for clusters of processors knows as ‘clouds.’’

In this case, the cloud computers will be accessible from the following universities: University of Washington (in Seattle), Carnegie Mellon, MIT, University of California (at Berkeley), and University of Maryland.

Cloud computing “allows computers in remote data centers to run parallel, increasing their processing power…it allows companies and universities to share resources and not have to expand their own costly data centers.”

Some of the potential issues with cloud computing include:
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Ease of use
Google and IBM are perfect partners for this venture, because Google is already as master at cloud computing as the basis for its search technology, and IBM is a master at running data centers.

Other technology giants such such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard are also developing approaches to cloud computing.

Forrester research says “this is the next generation of computer architecture.”

October 28, 2007

Feng Shui and Enterprise Architecture

Feng Shui, which literally means earth and water, is typically a way of “arranging living quarters with optimal comfort for mind and body.” It is the adaptation of “homes to harmonize with the currents of ch’i” (life force or energy).

However, feng shui does not only apply to home arrangement. More broadly, “the aim of feng shui is to change and harmonize the environment—cosmic, currents known as ch’i—to improve fortunes.” “The Chinese saw a magical link between man and the landscape: Nature reacts to any change and that reaction rebounds in man. They saw the world and themselves as part of a sacred metabolic system.”

Feng shui has a basis in Taoism. “The Taoists glorified nature. Love of nature permeated their view of life. Things would not be correct until man could mirror within, the harmony of nature without.” “Tao united everything, exemplifying the need of nature and man to bring all opposing forces [yin and yang] into a fluctuating harmony.”

“Ch’i is the most important component of feng shui.” “Ch’i must flow smoothly and near a person to improve his ch’i. It must be balanced. If the current is too strong or too weak, it can have negative effects.” “Feng shui practitioners try to direct a smooth, good current of ch’i to a person and divert of convert harmful ch’i.” (Adapted from Feng Shui by Sarah Rossbach)

In User-centric EA, we seek to create information products that are useful (relevant—current, accurate, and complete) and useable (easy to understand and readily accessible) to the end users to enhance decision-making. One way to make EA products more usable is by applying the teachings of feng shui in terms of harmony, flow, and balance.

User-centric EA seeks to harmonize information products to make them balanced, flowing, and positive or harmonious to a person’s ch’i. In other words, if EA information products focus not only on content, but also on the format, then the information products can be easier to understand, more potent in reaching end users, and more influential to decision-making.

“Feng shui brings good fortune to the home.” I believe it can also bring good fortune to the enterprise that effectively uses it to communicate vital information to end users for business and technology decision-making.


October 27, 2007

Lecture by John Zachman on Enterprise Architecture

John Zachman Lectures on Enterprise Architecture:


Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) - Defined

What is Service Oriented Architecture?


October 26, 2007

With Age Comes Wisdom and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 11 October 2007 reports that “in boardrooms these days, it is rare—perhaps too rare—for old-timers voices to be heard.” A main reason for this is that board members are frequently required to retire at age 70 or 72.

Are we to value or decry our seniors?

  • Experience—some people are starting to questions forced retirement, since it is the older people that have more experience and expertise.Perhaps, we are wasting a most valuable resource by not tapping these older directors for longer.The same could be said for leaders, in general.Why put good leaders out to pasture, simply because of age?If leaders are healthy, have all their faculties and want to continue working, why not let their “wisdom, common sense, and institutional memory” continue to lead the way?
  • Drawbacks—of course, we don’t want the elderly napping in the boardroom. Nor do we want “founder and their heirs” to main absolute control over companies and stifle healthy change and innovation.
  • A balanced approach—probably, the best approach is to judge each individual case on its own merits, so that healthy, competent seniors can continue to be a source of wisdom to their organizations.

From a User-centric EA approach, it is important to recognize the valuable contribution that senior people in the organization can bring to the strategic issues that we face daily.

  • Preventing mistakes—those who have served for 20, 30 or more years have a wealth of experience and institutional knowledge to keep the organization from making unnecessary mistakes.
  • Sustaining creativity—seniority should not stifle healthy change, creativity, and innovation; also, just because something failed in the past, doesn’t mean it is a doomed approach forever.
With age comes wisdom, no question. But the organization needs to balance the valuable contribution of its seniors with the creativity, enthusiasm, and new ideas of new generations.

CIO and Enterprise Architecture

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the executive in charge of information technology in an organization. All information systems design, development, operations & maintenance, datacenter and support operations fall under CIO jurisdiction. Increasingly, CIOs are involved in creating business and e-business opportunities through information technology. Collaborating with other executives, CIOs are often working at the core of business development within the organization. (adapted from PCMAG.COM)

From this definition, we see two important roles for the CIO.

  1. Operations—the CIO is responsible for the IT operations of the organization (systems, datacenter, and so on).
  2. Strategy—the CIO plays a critical role in strategy and architecture (business and e-business opportunities).

In short, we can summarize the role of the CIO as follows:

CIO = Strategy + Operations

While the CIO has traditionally managed IT operations, we can see the CIO’s role and responsibility expanding more and more into strategy and architecture. Here are some other examples of this:

• “Typically, a CIO is involved with analyzing and reworking existing business processes, with identifying and developing the capability to use new tools, with reshaping the enterprise's physical infrastructure and network access, and with identifying and exploiting the enterprise's knowledge resources. Many CIOs head the enterprise's efforts to integrate the Internet and the World Wide Web into both its long-term strategy and its immediate business plans.” (TechTarget.Com)

• “The Chief Information Officer of an executive agency shall be responsible for…developing, maintaining, and facilitating the implementation of a sound and integrated information technology architecture for the executive agency”. (Clinger-Cohen Act).

More and more, we see the CIO focusing on architecture and the overall policy and planning of IT, while the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) handles day-to-day IT operations.


October 25, 2007

User Concerns (Finally) Answered and Enterprise Architecture

There are a number of prominent issues or concerns that many users seem to voice or have about EA (and I have seen these as common across most organizations).

Here are the concerns:
  1. What’s in it for me (WIIFM)—everyone wants to know the answers to these questions: What do I get out of this? Why collaborate? Why cooperate? Why share information (“information is power” and information is currency”)? Why is EA on my turf?
  2. Perceived obstacle—EA provides for IT governance, but why do we need that? Doesn’t it stifle innovation? Isn’t it better to be ‘free’ to implement what you like, when you like? Why all this bureaucracy?
  3. The knowledge gambit—EA is not technical, what do you know about IT? EA is not operations, what does EA know about the business of the organization?
  4. Unhealthy competition—why is EA competing for management attention, influence, resources, and so on?
It is the job of the chief enterprise architect to address these concerns.
  1. EA is about trust and collaboration; we’re not working for ourselves and against each other, we’re working for the good of the organization. By sharing information, you will also get information from others that will enhance your understanding of the enterprise and enable you to do your job better. If everyone shares, then everyone (and the enterprise, as a whole) benefits!
  2. Governance, when designed right, is a help for users—and not a hindrance or obstacle to progress or innovation. The governance process is owned by the executive decision makers in the organization, usually the Investment Review Board, made up of senior decision-makers from across the organization (both business and IT). The IRB authorizes, prioritizes, and funds new IT investments. EA facilitates the investment review process by providing valuable input to the decision makers in terms of technical review and architecture assessments of new IT projects, products, and standards. EA helps make projects a success by providing business and technical input, and best practice guidance. By bringing subject matter experts together to review and vet ideas before they actually get implemented, we get a better end-product. Innovation is valued and encouraged by EA and moreover, information sharing through EA helps drive innovation and collaboration in the organization.
  3. EA synthesizes business and technology and therefore, is a bridge between the business and technical experts in the organization. While EA is not the ‘subject matter expert’ in either area, EA is an honest broker and functions as a competent facilitator translating business and information requirements to IT and conferring on technology solutions, plans and governance with the business.
  4. There is no competition between EA strategy and operations. The organization needs operations and strategy to not only coexist, but also to complement each other. Strategy and operations are co-dependent. One without the other would not only be suboptimal, but would actually not make sense. You need a strategy and you need to execute—period.


October 24, 2007

Terascale Computing and Enterprise Architecture

In MIT Technology Review, 26 September 2007, in an article entitled “The Future of Computing, According to Intel” by Kate Green, the author describes terascale computing— computational power beyond a teraflop (a trillion calculations per second).

“One very important benefit is to create the computing ability that's going to power unbelievable applications, both in terms of visual representations, such as this idea of traditional virtual reality, and also in terms of inference. The ability for devices to understand the world around them and what their human owners care about.”

How do computer learn inference?

“In order to figure out what you're doing, the computing system needs to be reading data from sensor feeds, doing analysis, and computing all the time. This takes multiple processors running complex algorithms simultaneously. The machine-learning algorithms being used for inference are based on rich statistical analysis of how different sensor readings are correlated.”

What’s an example of how inference can be used in today’s consumer technologies?

For example, sensors in your phone could determine whether you should be interrupted for a phone call. “The intelligent system could be using sensors, analyzing speech, finding your mood, and determining your physical environment. Then it could decide [whether you need to take a call].”

What is machine learning?

As a broad subfield of artificial intelligence, machine learning is concerned with the design and development of algorithms and techniques that allow computers to "learn." At a general level, there are two types of learning: inductive and deductive. Inductive machine learning methods extract rules and patterns out of massive data sets. The major focus of machine learning research is to extract information from data automatically, by computational and statistical methods. (Wikipedia)

Where’s all this computational power taking us?

Seems like we’re moving ever closer to the reality of what was portrayed as HAL 9000, the supercomputer from 2001: A Space Odyssey—HAL was“the pinnacle in artificial machine intelligence, with a remarkable, error-free performance record…designed to communicate and interact like a human, and even mimic (or reproduce) human emotions.” (Wikipedia) An amazing vision for a 1968 science fiction film, no?

From a User-centric EA perspective, terascale computing, machine learning, and computer inference represent tremendous new technical capabilities for our organizations. They are a leap in computing power and end-user application that have the capability to significantly alter our organizations business activities and processes and enable better, faster, and cheaper mission execution.

October 23, 2007

Linux and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 17 October 2007 reports that Linux is “barely scrapping a single percentage point of the market share” for desktop users.

What is Linux? “Linux is the free operating system whole development is overseen by Mr. [Linus] Torvalds.” Linux is open source and is used at Google other major companies.

However, adoption by users to replace Windows at the desktop has been slow and neglible. Even Mr. Torvalds’ father and sister resist using his Linux creation!

People are continuing to pay hundreds of dollars for Microsoft Windows, instead of the free alternative, for a few reasons:
  1. Bundled with the PC—“For most consumers, Windows is ‘free,’ coming as it does [bundled] with their new PCs.”
  2. Philosophical heartburn, not!—“Typical consumer user has none of the philosophical objections to Windows of some members of the open-source community.”
  3. Net utility—“Windows works well enough that the difficulty involved in switching operating systems outweighs any sling and arrows of using it.”
Linux now comes bundled with other software like web browsers, word processors, and so on in a product called Ubuntu, into an “easy-to-install package.” However, one Ubunto’s main backers implies that it’s really not all that easy to install, as the backer states, “anyone can use it as a primary operating system, as long as they have a technically savvy friend to help with rough patches.”

Mr. Tovalds states “I’m a technical guy, so I tend to believe in the ‘if you build it, they will come’ motto.” However, from a User-centric EA perspective, we believe that business drives technology, and not technology for technology sake. So while Linux is a great option, it’s got to be a product that is truly business-driven. And to be a business-driven product, Linux must become a real alternative to the consumer so that is easy to install, user-friendly, secure, full featured, and responsive to future marketplace changes. Linux should not be selected for end-users or the enterprise based on philosophical discourses or subjective biases, but rather based on net utility.

October 22, 2007

The Atomic Bomb and Enterprise Architecture

J. Robert Oppenheimer (April 22, 1904 – February 18, 1967) was an American theoretical physicist, best known for his role as the director of the Manhattan Project, the World War II effort to develop the first nuclear weapons, at the secret Los Alamo laboratory in New Mexico. Known as "the father of the atomic bomb," Oppenheimer was shocked by the weapon's killing power after it was used to destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…After the war, Oppenheimer was a chief advisor to the newly created United States Atomic Energy Commission and used that position to lobby for international control of atomic energy and to avert the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union.” (Wikipedia)

Oppenheimer believed that technology and science had their own imperatives, and that whatever could be discovered or done would be discovered and done. "It is a profound and necessary truth," he told a Canadian audience in 1962, "that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them." Because he believed that some country would build a nuclear bomb, he preferred that it be the United States, whose politics were imperfect but preferable to those of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union…Oppenheimer was a fatalist about the evolution of technology and science…He looked to humanity's most progressive institutions to restrain the malignant use of technology. Oppenheimer was asked to build a nuclear bomb, and he hoped reason would dictate that it be used twice, in a just war, and then never again. (MIT Technology Review, “Oppenheimer's Ghost”, November/December 2007)

From a humanistic perspective—I am intrigued by the polarity of Oppenheimer’s acknowledgement that in building the atomic bomb and supporting its use against Japan in WWII that he had blood on his hands, but at the same time believing that its use in WWII was justified to prevent further loss of life as well as it existence being a deterrent for future conflicts.

From a User-centric EA perspective—I am interested in Oppenheimer’s fatalistic belief in the evolution of technology. Are technology advances predetermined and inevitable as Oppenheimer believed or is there an element of human control?

Of course, organizations determine through their IT governance (i.e. investment review boards and enterprise architecture strategy), what IT projects to invest in. However, looking beyond distinct individuals or organizations, it seems that nothing will truly impede global technological progress, if there is any gain to be had economically, politically, socially, or otherwise. Net utility (cost-benefit analysis) determines whether innovation is funded and pursued.

EA and IT governance can broker IT investments, but just like the building of the atomic bomb, if it can be done and it benefits someone, it will be done by someone, somewhere!


October 21, 2007

Circumventing the CIO—What’s the Harm?

One of the most difficult challenges we face as enterprise architects is when end-users don’t ask permission, but instead ask forgiveness.

The typical scenario is that a division or unit or group of end-users decides to go out and purchase some new IT widget, gadget, or system without going through the CIO shop. (I know this shouldn’t happen if the CIO controls the IT funding, but even then someone always finds some money squirreled away and decides to use it for something they weren’t supposed to or in some cases even bypasses the money channels altogether, getting a freebie from a eager vendor looking to build or test some new capabilities to sell later to other customers).

Well, where’s the harm?

Oh my G-d, where should I start…

Innovation from the field and operators is great, but bypassing the CIO shop circumvents the structured processes and good governance that is in place to ensure projects succeed. Without these mechanisms, IT project can be at tremendous risk:

  1. Business Case—Without a business case, the justification for the IT project was never made, return on investment not calculated, alternatives not considered, and the best course ahead not properly laid.
  2. Investment Review Board—Without IRB vetting, the senior-level sponsorship has not been solidified, the project has not been authorized, and its priority has not been set with respect to other, maybe more critical, projects that the enterprise needs; further, the project may not have adequate life cycle funding; additionally, the project is likely not being ongoingly monitored and managed by leadership and enterprise subject matter experts for cost, schedule, and performance.
  3. Enterprise Architecture Review—Without an EA technical review, the IT project may align with the target architecture and transition plan, may not be interoperable with other systems, may not meet enterprise technical standards, may overload or be incompatible with existing infrastructure, may be duplicative of other investments, may not be the best or most cost-effective technical solution, may not meet various legal, regulatory, and other compliance requirements.
  4. System Development Life Cycle—Without following a defined, repeatable, and measureable SDLC process, the project risks failure by not having adequate and documented planning and requirements, design, development, testing, implementation, training, operation and maintenance, and disposition.
  5. Project Management Plan—Without a project management plan, projects are at risks for being mismanaged, having cost-overruns, schedule delays, and quality problems.
  6. IT Security Plan—Without an IT security plan, the project is at risk in terms of the confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy of the information.

No question, from an end-users perspective, there are quite a few hurdles to go through in implementing a new IT project. An if we’re honest with ourselves, the process can be onerous. Therefore, the CIO and his staff needs to work to streamline the processes, integrate them, provide the users with job aids and excellent customer support. Additionally, there should be a quick pass process for getting those “emergency” (must have now) projects through quickly (although not any less comprehensively).

The key is to balance the needs of the enterprise (ensuring mission execution and sound stewardship of enterprise resources), end-users (supporting innovation and operators ability to do their jobs successfully and safely), and customers or citizens (bringing new products or services to market quickly, reliably, and at high quality levels). To do this we have to balance the necessary processes and governance to ensure IT projects’ success with the imperative to foster innovation and deliver quality and speedily to market.

So as an enterprise architect, what do you do when a end-user asks forgiveness, instead of permission?


October 20, 2007

Leadership Development and Enterprise Architecture

Fortune Magazine, 1 October 2007, reports on the world’s best companies are finding out that “no matter what business they’re in, their real business is building leaders.”

“’People are our greatest asset’, CEOs always say that. They almost never mean it. Most companies maintain their office copiers better than they build the capabilities of their people.” But now companies are finding in this high liquidity market, that they are less dependent on financial capital, and more on human capital, and so they are getting serious about leadership development!

Fortune provides a number of good ideas for organizations to help develop their future leaders:

  1. Invest in leadership—“you don’t build leaders on the cheap.” You’ve got to invest not only money, but also the time of the organization’s executives to help develop leaders.
  2. Identify leaders early—“begin to evaluate leadership capability on day one of employment.” Moreover, begin their leadership development early.
  3. Assign leadership positions strategically—assign promising leaders to work on things they need work on, rather than those things they are already good at: challenge them!
  4. Give lots of honest feedback—Provide feedback on a continuing basis and make it candid!
  5. Inspire leaders to perform—motivate performance through sense of mission; passion for one’s job in an organization is contagious.

In a world economy built on human capital, organizations must develop their leaders and mean it!

While many incorrectly think of enterprise architecture as simply a technology-based endeavor, EA is really a broad-based blueprint for the organization.

In User-centric EA, we look to build the capabilities of the organization to meet mission requirements: this includes everything from technology solutions, to more efficient business processes, to information sharing, to human capital development.

Previously, I have called for a human capital reference model (and persepctive) to be added to the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA):

The pressing need for more and better leadership (and management) development is yet another reason to finally get this done by really focusing attention on the organization’s human capital needs through its inclusion in the FEA.


October 19, 2007

IT Strategic Plan and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric Enterprise Architecture supports the development of a meaningful IT strategic plan for the organization. Based on my experience in strategic planning, there are a number of core goals that should be represented in the IT Strategic Plan. These are as follows:

  1. Information —delivering the right information to the right people at the right time; providing for information management, including information sharing, information assurance, privacy, accessibility, and records management.
  2. Technology — developing and maintaining a sound, secure, reliable, cost-effective IT infrastructure that enables mission execution.
  3. Process — supplying world-class service to customers, by providing defined, repeatable, and measurable processes for systems development life cycle, configuration management, change control, and problem resolution; also, facilitating business process improvement and reengineering.
  4. People — ensuring the education, training, certification, and personal and professional development of IT staff.
  5. Governance — managing IT though structured governance processes including capital planning and investment control, enterprise architecture, IT planning, and portfolio management.
  6. Stewardship — administering resources including IT assets, finance, and human capital for the design, development, maintenance, and operation of IT solutions.

Together, these six goals provide the foundation for a sound IT strategic plan.

As a visual representation, I see these goals in the following way: First there is a Venn diagram in the center composed of People, Process, and Technology. This diagram is surrounded by a circle made up of sound Governance. Emerging from this circle and Venn diagram is Information (and IT capability) provided to the organization to optimize business processes and enable mission execution. And underlying all this is a foundation of responsible Stewardship of IT resources.


October 18, 2007

IT Projects - Get It Right or Fix It Later?

The Wall Street Journal 25 September 2007 reports on a new model being called the “wave of the future”, where IT projects are rolled out “on schedule…even if all the kinks haven’t been worked out” and then fix it later, as problems arise.

The idea of this model is that by rolling out and fixing problems on the fly, you avoid extensive schedule delays and cost-overruns common with IT projects.

Arizona University followed this model in rolling out their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and it was hailed as “highly successful” by a VP at Oracle, even though “there were payroll mistakes that left some [3000!] workers unpaid, underpaid, or overpaid.”

“Oracle hailed it as a model for both universities and corporations to follow.” The strategy is to “implement, adapt, grow.”

This model of fix it later is being used by “Internet companies like Google Inc. These companies label the software they release ‘beta,’ meaning that it is good enough to use, but it isn’t finished. Sometimes they keep it that way for years, using feedback from users to create ever more-refined versions.”

In the fix it later model, you “admit from the start that there will be mistakes; then work through the glitches [after rollout] with users’ help. This is the opposite of the traditional model that says companies “take their time and don’t start using a new computer system until they are convinced almost everything works right.”

Which approach is better?

From a User-centric Enterprise Architecture point of view, we have to balance two competing drivers.

  • One is the importance of meeting user needs and mission requirements, and this means that we don’t delay important IT rollouts unnecessarily, incurring schedule delays, cost overruns, and unmet requirements—This sides with the Fix It Later model.
  • On the other hand, we don’t compromise the mission by taking unnecessary risks and rolling out IT systems that are not tested ready and reliable—This sides with the Get It Right model.

Perhaps, the best IT model is a hybrid that I would call—“Get It Right, On Schedule and Within Budget!”


October 17, 2007

The Art of War and Enterprise Architecture

Sun Tsu (544 BC – 496 BC) is the author of The Art of War (an immensely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy).

The following are three lessons from The Art of War for Enterprise Architecture:

1) Strategy is Critical

“Tzu-lu [a disciple of Confucius] said, supposing you had command of the Three Hosts, whom would you take to help you? The master [Sun Tsu] said, the man who was ready to beard a tiger or rush a river without caring whether he lived or died—that sort of man, I should not take. I should certainly take someone who approached difficulties with due caution and who preferred to succeed by strategy.” (The Art of War)

Sun Tsu recognizes the importance of strategy and the danger of rash actions. Similarly, User-centric EA identifies the needs of the organization and its users and develops an appropriate plan for the enterprise to execute. The well thought out EA plan guides the organization in lieu of rash and flailing actions of individuals.

2) Agility is Tactic #1

“Just a water adapts itself to the conformation of the ground, so in war one must be flexible…this is not in any sense a passive concept, for if the enemy is given enough rope he will frequently hang himself. Under certain conditions, one yields a city, sacrifices a portion of his force, or give up ground in order to gain a more valuable objective.”

User-centric EA must always be flexible and adapt to the needs of its users and the enterprise. It’s easy to get caught up in ivory-tower architecture efforts, rigid EA plans, and governance structures that hinder rather than help progress. But if we remember that the “more valuable objective” is the mission execution of the organization, then we put these needs first and foremost and adjust the architecture to it.

For example, in Hurricane Katrina, when action on the ground was needed to be taken immediately to save lives, governance was loosened to allow the enterprise to adapt quickly.

3) Unification is strength

“He whose ranks are united in purpose will be victorious…the appropriate season is not as important as the advantages of the ground; these are not as important as harmonious human relations.”

In User-centric EA, the enterprise is unified (and focused) in meeting user requirements, executing on mission, and moving the organization forward in a structured, orderly way. By everyone following the same script (the target and transition plan), organizational progress is faster, deeper (the change is up and down the organizational ranks), and more meaningful (since everyone is on board).


October 16, 2007

Agile Planning and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal in conjunction with MIT Sloan School of Management on 15 September 2007 reports that “markets, technologies, and competition are becoming more dynamic by the day. To succeed in this environment…requires a whole new level of flexibility.” Instead of strategy that “too often locks managers into decisions that may turned out to be flawed, because something outside their control doesn’t go as planned. What is needed is…flexibility into strategy—a plan that lays out a series of options for managers to pursue or decline as developments warrant.”

By practicing agile planning (as I call it), decisions are broken down into stages, where management can review events and decide whether “to proceed, hold back, or retreat at each stage” or alter course altogether.

From a User-centric EA perspective, I really like the idea of agile planning in coming up with the architecture target and transition plan. What we may think today is the best business or technical plan to meet user needs, may not be the case 6 months or a year later. Moreover, as plans extend beyond 3-5 year timeframe, the ability to hit the target is often grossly exaggerated.

The concept of agile planning is to come up with milestones and then based on event-driven triggers follow through to a series of next steps. Agile planning gives the enterprise tremendous flexibility to adjust to changes (whether internal or external-driven), and not get trapped in the “planning pit” , whereby decision-makers are caught in the decision hole that they dug for themselves.

While as planners, we cannot be wishy-washy—we must develop a clear way ahead for the organization—developing the capability to move forward, yet be nimble enough to adjust to changing circumstance is the way to build a truly wonderful plan.


October 15, 2007

Vision, Goals, and Enterprise Architecture

In the book, First Things First by Stephen Covey, the author provides insight into setting vision and goals that can be applied on a personal and leadership level.

What is VISION?

“The power of vision is incredible!”

“Vision is the best manifestation of creative imagination and the primary motivation of human action. It’s the ability to see beyond our present reality, to create, to invent what does not yet exist, to become what we not yet are. It gives us capacity to live out of our imagination instead of memory.”

“The passion of vision…we call it ‘passion’ because this vision can become a motivating force so powerful it, in effect, becomes the DNA of our lives. It’s so ingrained and integrated into every aspect of our being that it becomes the compelling impetus behind every decision we make. It is the fire within—the explosion of inner synergy…this passion can empower us to literally transcend dear, doubt, [and] discouragement.”

What are GOALS?

“When we set a goal, we’re saying, ‘I can envision something different from what is, and I chose to focus my efforts to create it.’ We use our imagination to keep the goal in mind, and independent will to pay the price to achieve it.”

“Self-awareness prompts us to start where we are—no illusions, no excuses—and helps us to set realistic goals. On the other hand, it also doesn’t allow us to cop out with mediocrity. It helps us recognize and respect our need to stretch, to push the limits to grow. So much of our frustration in life comes as a result of unmet expectations, the ability to set goals that are both realistic and challenging goes a long way to toward empowering us to create peace and positive growth in our lives.”

“A principle-based goal is…the right thing, for the right reason, in the right way.” This is based on the following:
  • Conscience—“through conscience, we connect with the passion of vision and mission and the power of principles.”
  • Creative Imagination—“through creative imagination, we envision possibility and synergistic, creative ways to achieve it.”
  • Self-Awareness—“though self-awareness, we set goals with realistic stretch and stay open to conscience-driven change.”
  • Independent Will—“through independent will, we make purposeful choices and carry them out; we have the integrity to walk our talk.”

As EA practitioners, we are leaders in our organizations. As leaders, we need to have a clear vision for motivating, synergizing, and giving us the imagination to see beyond our present reality. Additionally, as EA leaders, we need to develop principle-based goals that focus efforts, are challenging yet realistic, and help us to maintain our integrity.

EA leaders must have a vision and goals for not only the development of the EA program to further IT planning and governance and enhance decision-making in the enterprise, but EA leaders must also have vision and goals for the enterprise itself—what is the right things for the organization, for the right reason, and in the right way—this is manifested in the EA target architecture and plans.

Of course, the executives and subject matter experts in the organization ultimately have the vision and goals that drive mission execution and performance. However, EA is in a unique position to integrate those various views and bring synergy and consensus to a way ahead.

EA is an awesome responsibility to lead. EA is a stewardship, a trust. As stewards, EA is called to exercise responsible care over the enterprise baseline and target architectures, IT plans, and governance.

October 14, 2007

Shooting the Messenger and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 11 September 2007 reports that the “everyone knows blaming the blameless bearer of bad news doesn’t help, but we do it anyway. It’s…the gulf between knowing a problem and solving it.”

The article continues, “Big bureaucracies are set up to place human barriers around decision makers. Today there’s the added protection of automated phones and web sites that bury contact information for real people. So the buck stops in the lower rungs of the hierarchy.”

“The government agency…sent lower level staffers to break news to clients that they didn’t get approved…’the true irony of the situation is sending in someone who is less qualified to address a hostile situation, and that creates more hostility, which makes it more likely for him to get shot.’”

The following day, 12 September 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported in another article about another situation of shooting the messenger, as follows: “American Airlines told the Transportation Security Administration in July, that a passenger on a flight to New York had slapped a flight attendant across the face when the plane was ordered emptied in Miami after bad weather kept the flight from leaving. Police were called.”

“Those middlemen aren’t responsible for disruptive decisions or business failures. But they’re the poor souls held accountable.” (WSJ, 11 September 2007)

As EA practitioners, we are often the messengers of corporate news; we analyze problems areas and uncover gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities. Often, others in the organization do not want to hear about these problems and do not want EA to be providing the solutions. Instead, they look to shoot the EA messenger. Rather than pointing fingers and letting off steam at the EA folks doing their jobs, how about teaming up, collaborating, and working to improve the organization and make things better for everyone!


October 13, 2007

NASA and Enterprise Architecture

First all of all let me say that NASA and its people are totally awesome.

On July 20, 1969, the human race accomplished its single greatest technological achievement of all time when a human first set foot on another celestial body.” (NASA)

The trip to from the earth to the moon is approximately 240,000 miles!! (adapted from Wikipedia)

“Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin spent a total of 21 hours on the Moon, two-and-a-half of them outside the landing module. A further 10 astronauts traveled to the Moon in another six missions with the final manned lunar landing, Apollo 17, completed in December 1972.” (adapted from

On 20 September, 2005, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin announced a New Spaceship Designed for Travel to Moon and Mars. Griffin defended the $104 billion dollar lunar program, saying it is intended to make President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration a reality. The price of the new lunar program will be spread out over 13 years and adjusted for inflation represents about 55 percent of what the Apollo space program cost in the 1970s. (adapted from globalsecurity.org)

Why haven’t we been able to send man back to the moon (or to other planets in the last 35 years)? And why do we need to invest another $104 billion to do something that we should already know how to do? Finally, if we were able to go to the moon before the unbelievable technological advances of the last 35 years, why can’t we do it today?

Honest answer:
I don’t really know.

Hypothetical answers:
  • The alien technology that we acquired to make the trips to the moon has either been depleted or destroyed by the Russians. (Ha ha ha)
  • User-centric EA wasn’t around 35 years ago, and therefore, the business and technical processes, information, and means of governance weren’t well documented and have been lost to mankind, and now we need to recreate the whole darn thing (hopefully not).

Barring another Roswell alien landing, we will have to thank the Clinger-Cohen Act for helping us ensure that this critical (and expensive) information is better documented going forward.


October 12, 2007

Information Management and Enterprise Architecture

What is the Information Age?

“Alvin Toffler, a famous American writer and futurist, in his book The Third Wave, describes three types of societies, based on the concept of 'waves' - each wave pushes the older societies and cultures aside.

  • First Wave—the society after agrarian revolution that replaced the first hunter-gatherer cultures.
  • Second Wave—the society during the Industrial Revolution (ca. late 1600s through the mid-1900s), based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, and weapons of mass destruction. You combine those things with standardization, centralization, concentration, and synchronization, and you wind up with a style of organization we call bureaucracy."
  • Third Wave—the post-industrial society, also called the Information Age, Space Age, Electronic Era, Global Village, scientific-technological revolution, which to various degrees predicted demassification, diversity, and knowledge-based production.”

What is a knowledge worker?

“Peter Drucker, in 1959, coined the term Knowledge worker, as one who works primarily with information or one who develops and uses knowledge in the workplace. Knowledge Workers are now estimated to outnumber all other workers in North America by at least a four to one margin (Haag et al, 2006, pg. 4). A Knowledge Worker's benefit to a company could be in the form of developing business intelligence, increasing the value of intellectual capital , gaining insight into customer preferences, or a variety of other important gains in knowledge that aid the business.” (Toffler and Drucker sections are adapted from Wikipedia)

How does EA fit in the Information Age and support the knowledge worker?

EA is a process for capturing, analyzing, and serving up information to achieve improved IT planning, governance, and decision making. So, EA works with data and information and supports the knowledge worker in the following way:

  • Acquisition—captures business and technical information
  • Analysis—analyzes information problem areas and identifies gaps, redundancies, and opportunities for standardization, consolidation, integration, interoperability, and so on
  • Description—describes data and information using metadata and various information products, such as profiles, models, and inventories
  • Classification—catalogues data using taxonomies (i.e. schemas) and ontologies (that relate the data)
  • Warehousing—stores the data in a repository
  • Dissemination—makes the information available for discovery, exchange, reporting, and queries
  • Management—establishes data standards, institutes policies and practices for describing, registering, discovering and exchanging information; administers configuration management of the data; ensures data backup and recovery.

In User-centric EA, all aspects of information management (in terms of development, maintenance, and use of information products) are done with the enterprise and end-user in mind. User-centric EA seeks to make all aspects of EA information useful (i.e. relevant—current, accurate, complete) and usable (i.e. easy to understand and readily accessible) for the information age enterprise and knowledge workers that we support!


October 11, 2007

Engaging Employees Hearts and Minds and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 1 October 2007 reports that “employers should—and increasingly do—care about creating a great workplace.”

Companies are realizing the “the human beings who execute the goals of business are more than just cogs in a wheel.” Companies are now showing they do care more about their workers, through:

  • Best workplace lists—vying for venerated positions on best-workplace lists
  • Luring recruits—“pledging their devotion to work-family balance” and other employee-friendly benefits
  • Employee engagement—boasting about their level of worker-commitment, which manifests itself in low employee turnover; or employees volunteering to make an extra effort on the job

In the traditional rigid, controlling workplace, workers’ needs are left unmet; over time, this “erodes concentration, commitment, and creativity.” Good workplace policies “enable employees to manage their large lives, freeing them to apply more brainpower to complex information-age jobs.”

What’s more, organizations are finding that creating a great workplace for employees actually pays off in dollars (i.e. it “actually causes an increase in a company’s overall financial performance.”)

The New York Conference Board found in a study last year “clear and mounting evidence that employee engagement is strongly correlated to ‘productivity, profit, and revenue growth.’”

User-centric EA is driven to mission execution and meeting end user needs (including employee satisfaction). This is why I have been a long-time proponent for adding a human capital reference model and perspective to the Federal Enterprise Architecture. Balancing these two approaches (mission and employee) creates the synergy that organizations need for long-term success. There is a motto that I often use that expresses this right on—“mission first, people always!”


October 10, 2007

Guns versus Butter Model and Enterprise Architecture

“In economics, the guns versus butter model is the classic example of the production possibility frontier. It models the relationship between a nation's investment in defense and civilian goods. In this model, a nation has to choose between two options when spending its finite resources. It can buy either guns or butter, or a combination of both. This can be seen as an analogy for choices between defense and civilian spending in more complex economies.” (Wikipedia)

The guns versus butter model teaches us that you cannot have it all! There are clear limitations to resources, and it is not possible to produce or spend beyond that.

Yes, of course, our resources can be extended by increasing the limits of production through for example, advances in technology that make us more efficient (like advances in automation or agricultural production). Similarly, we can spend more than we have on both guns and butter, through deficit spending, although this is a temporary phenomenon where we borrow to spend now, and this must be repaid in the future.

The point is that as society, organizations, or individuals with finite resources, we must make choices, since we can’t have it all. Even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet with their billions of dollars, have to make choices too (although their choices may be a little bit larger than ours—should I buy this mega-company or that one).

From a User-centric Enterprise Architecture perspective, the lesson of the guns versus butter economic model is very important. As we baseline the architecture of the organization and see all that is wrong with it (gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities), we are tempted to want to fix everything, right away. In other words, the target architecture becomes an unrealistic wish list and one that seeks to solve all that is wrong in the enterprise. One of my associates calls this the feed the world solution, which he promptly points out are those initiatives that never really go everywhere, because you can’t “swallow an elephant in one bite.”

In EA, we have to develop a target architecture and transition plan that is realistic: one that takes into account the limitations of resources as well as the limitations of the organization to rapidly undergo change. It becomes an issue of priorities. A good architect not only helps the organization identify the possibilities for improvement, but also works with leadership and stakeholders to prioritize those and phase them in. realistically, through the transition plan.


First Things First and Enterprise Architecture

In the book “First Things First” by Stephen Covey, the author describes an important dilemma of what’s important to us in life versus how we actually spend our time. Covey uses the metaphor of the clock and the compass to explain this.
  • The clock—“our commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, and activities—what we do with, and how we manage our time.”
  • The compass—“our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, and direction—what we feel is important and how we lead our lives.”

The idea here is that we “painstakingly climb the ‘ladder of success’ rung by rung—the diploma, the late nights, the promotions—only to discover as we reached the top rung, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.”

“Absorbed in the ascent, we left a trail of shattered relationships or missed moments of deep, rich living in the wake of the intense overfocused effort. In the race up the rungs we simply did not take the time to do what really mattered most.”
What is really important?

Covey sums it up nicely, as follows:

  • To live—our physical needs (“food, clothing, shelter, economic well-being, health”)
  • To love—our social needs (“to relate to other people, to belong, to love, to be loved”)
  • To learn—our mental needs (“to develop and to grow”)
  • To live a legacy—our spiritual needs (“to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution” and most important of all to serve and sacrifice for the one almighty G-d)

In case you don’t recognize it, these align nicely to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.


Maslow “in his last years, revised his earlier theory and acknowledged that the peak experience was not “self-actualization, but “self-transcendence,” or living for a higher purpose than self.

George Bernard Shaw put it this way:

“This is the true joy in life…being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one…being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy…I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can…I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Covey says it this way:

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

As an enterprise architect, who works everyday to build a better organization, with efficient and effective business processes, timely and meaningful information supporting the business, and information technology solutions that drive mission execution, I thought it was important to put this important job in perspective. Because in order to be effective in the role as an enterprise architect, we have to realize that “balance and synergy” among the four needs—physical, social, mental, and spiritual—are imperative.

As Covey states: “we tend to see them [these needs] as separate ‘compartments’ of life. We think of ‘balance’ as running from one area to another fast enough to spend time in each one of a regular basis [or not!]…but [this] ignores the reality of their powerful synergy. It’s where…we find true inner balance, deep fulfillment, and joy.”


October 9, 2007

Functionalism and Enterprise Architecture

Functionalism is about the structure and workings of society. Functionalists see society as made up of inter-dependent sections which work together to fulfill the functions necessary for the survival of society as a whole. The theory is based around a number of key concepts. First, society is viewed as a system – a collection of interdependent parts, with a tendency toward equilibrium. Second, there are functional requirements that must be met in a society for its survival (such as reproduction of the population). Third, phenomena are seen to exist because they serve a function. Functionalists believe that one can compare society to a living organism, in that both a society and an organism are made up of interdependent working parts (organs) and systems that must function together in order for the greater body to function.” (Wikipedia)

User-centric EA is firmly grounded in functionalism. EA sees the enterprise as composed of interrelated parts that rely on each other in order to function and survive. Each individual, group, department, division and so on plays a critical role (like organs in a body).

Enterprise architects develop models of the business, data, and systems that show exactly what the parts (or elements) in the organization are and how they interrelate and function—this is functionalism. For example, in the business model, the actors perform activities (or tasks); the activities make up processes, and the interrelated processes make up functions. Clearly there is a structure and interdependency of like components that fulfills enterprise functions. Similarly, the organization’s IT hardware and software products are combined with databases to make up applications with specific business functions. The functionally interrelated applications combine to make up systems. Again, the collection of independent parts (products, applications, systems) forms collections that serve specified functions for the organization.

If a business activity or process or an IT product or application no longer serves a necessary or viable function for the growth and “survival” of the organization or if there are redundancies in these, then the architect recommends that those unnecessary components be discontinued. Similarly, if there are gaps or inefficiencies in the business or IT, where required functions are not being served or served well, then the architect recommends a those gaps be filled or those business or IT areas be reengineered.

EA’s basis in functionalism is what makes it grounded in the realities of the organization needs for survival and maturation.


October 8, 2007

Hoshin Kanri and Enterprise Architecture

“Hoshin Kanri is a strategic planning methodology that uses a Shewhart Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) to create goals, assign measurable milestones, and assess progress.” (Adapted from Wikipedia)

In Hoshin Kanri (HK) “the vision must be shared by all, so that everybody acts (at his own level) consistently to hit targets. Each company layer or function defines its own targets, according to the top ones. The principle goes cascading down to the base (vertical diffusion) or in coordination between divisions (horizontal collaboration) or a mix of both. The concept’s idea states: if all underlying objectives are met, the higher objective is automatically met, and so on, cascading up.”


The four phases:

  1. Plan— higher objectives set by uppermost authority and in cascading fashion, each sub-division defines its own objectives, based on the level above (alignment phase).
  2. Do—everyone carries out their objectives
  3. Check—monitor, evaluate, and report on progress
  4. Action—make course corrections to improve the process and achievement of results (Adapted from Wikipedia)

In general, setting the ‘right’ objectives means they should be SMART:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable (yet ambitious)
  4. Realistic
  5. Time-Specific

(adapted from http://www.valuebasedmanagement.net/)

In HK objectives should also:

  • Improve current ways of doing things (efficiency, effectiveness, cost-savings…)
  • Innovate (new techniques, technologies…)

How does HK differ from Management By Objective (MBO)?

  • HK is focused on the process, while MBO is focused on the target
  • HK defines how it will achieve the target, while MBO does not
  • HK uses lot of communications and builds consensus (horizontally and vertically in the organization), while MBO is more top-down management

(adapted from http://membres.lycos.fr/hconline/hoshin_us.htm)

In short, Hoshin Kanri seems like an evolution of Management by Objective.

The methodology and principles of Hoshin Kanri is a terrific match with User-centric EA. Both focus on developing SMART plans, improving processes, using innovative (yet trusted) technologies to meet mission and user needs, communicating clearly with stakeholders, and building consensus on a way ahead.


October 7, 2007

Succession Planning and Enterprise Architecture

“Succession Planning—is the process of identifying and preparing suitable employees to replace key players within an organization. From the risk management aspect, provisions are made in case no suitable internal candidates are available to replace the loss of any key person…a careful and considered plan of action ensures the least possible disruption to the person’s responsibilities and therefore the organization’s effectiveness. A succession plan clearly sets out the factors to be taken into account and the process to be followed in relation to retaining or replacing the person.” (Adapted from Wikipedia)

How difficult can succession planning be?

The Wall Street Journal, 8-9 September, 2007, describes how difficult succession planning can be and especially for an organization such as Cirque du Soleil (where 21 performers are former Olympians and the majority has backgrounds in acrobatics or traditional circus arts): “Working with such singular talent forces Cirque to walk a tightrope. The artistic side is always looking for new acts. The business side wants to make sure they aren’t irreplaceable.”

How far will some organizations go to manage their succession planning?

Scouts [from Cirque]…travel the world, scour the internet, and vet thousands of unsolicited applications to fill 500 new roles. In their quest, they have created a database of 20,000 potential performers. Among them: 24 giants (including a Ukrainian who is 8 foot 2), 23 whistlers, 466 contortionists, 14 pickpockets, 35 skateboarders, 1,278 clowns, 8 dislocation artists, and 73 people classified simply as small.”

In User-centric EA, succession planning, although not normally part of an EA program, should be considered for future addition. Particularly, with the addition of a human capital perspective to EA, the development and maintenance of succession plans would be an excellent fit!


October 6, 2007

Enterprise Architecture: Catalogues, Portfolios, and Inventories

There are three levels of architecture in the organization: enterprise, segment, and solutions. This is explained in a prior post.

Each level of the architecture identifies and categorizes business and technical information. However, the information captured in the three architecture levels (enterprise, segment, and solutions) differs as to their level of detail.

Here’s how this works:

  • CataloguesEnterprise architecture maintains catalogues of strategic-level enterprise assets. For example, EA provides catalogues of enterprise business functions and activities, enterprise systems, and enterprise hardware and software products and standards.
  • Portfolios—Segment architecture maintains portfolios of items scoped to the individual lines of business (LOB), at a medium level of detail, with impact focused on business outcomes. For example, a portfolio of systems or databases relevant to the functioning of a specific LOB such as for Finance, HR, and so on.
  • Inventories—Solutions architecture maintains inventories of configuration items for the enterprise. The configuration items are at the maximum level of detail for maintaining control of changes. This is used, for example, for software configuration management and for engineering support of IT infrastructure.

All three types of information products types—Catalogues, Portfolios, and Inventories—contain similar types of information pertinent to the organization; however, each product functions at a different level in the architecture—enterprise, segment, and solutions. Each of the information product types should be traceable and align to the next, so that inventories roll up into portfolios, and portfolios roll up in total to the enterprise asset catalogues. In this way, the architecture framework is consistent throughout the organization, items are traceable at all levels—from the solutions developers up to the strategic-level EA—and items can be viewed at the appropriate level of detail depending on whether the viewer is a senior leader, an executive decision-maker in the LOB, or a solution provider (“fixer-doer”).

Some organizations have chosen for simplicity’s sake to call all three of these product types “inventories.” That is acceptable, with the understanding that these “inventories” are providing different levels of detail corresponding to the different levels of architecture.