December 21, 2007

Strategy and Enterprise Architecture

In the book Translating Strategy into Action, by Duke Corporate Education, the authors provide numerous insights into strategy development that are applicable to User-centric EA.

  • Strategy is hard—“As managers, the combination of more information, a faster pace, greater geographic reach, greater interdependence, and elevated scrutiny means the environment we manage and the problem we face are increasingly complex.” The EA strategy is hard to develop, but even harder for today’s overtaxed managers to quickly and simply execute.
  • Strategy is a differentiator—“Strategy is about being different and making choices…it outlines where and how a company will compete [or operate]…it provides direction, guidance, and focus when you are faced with choices.” The EA is a differentiator for where and how the organization will operate.
  • Strategy is purpose—“Creating strategic context for your team creates a greater sense of purpose by connecting what they are doing to the bigger picture.” The EA sets up an alignment between IT and business and establishes context and purpose.
  • Strategy must be adaptable—“Strategy will always be in a state of flux and should be adaptable to today’s fast-paced environment.” The EA must be flexible and adapt to a changing environment.
  • Information is king—“Implementing a strategy requires managers to move from data acquisition to insight. How managers make sense of information is what will set them and their companies apart.” In EA, information is captured, analyzed, and catalogued for developing strategy and enabling decision-making.
  • Always start with a baseline—“Strategy translation and execution always entails moving from where you are to where you want to be. Without an honest and incisive analysis of where you are, this journey begins on faulty ground.” In EA, you’ve got to have a baseline in order to get to your target.
  • Think capabilities—“The more important step is to focus on building the capabilities necessary to achieve these [strategic action] steps, and ultimately the intended vision.” EA should help you define and develop your operational and technical capabilities and competancies
  • Embrace change—“Get comfortable with change. Continue to learn how to adapt because the degree and pace of change is increasing. Your firm’s strategy will change, maybe not in major ways, but always in subtle and important ways.” EA requires that the enterprise is open to change, not for change’s sake, but for adapting to changes in our environment.

Enterprise architecture is a strategic, big picture endeavor. It involves developing the baseline, target, and transition plan. The EA is the enterprise strategy and blueprint for bridging information requirements with IT solutions. EA is the CIO’s strategy for meeting mission requirements.


December 20, 2007

Kiwi and Enterprise Architecture

Most of us don’t give must thought to a company like Kiwi, founded in 1906, that makes shoe polish (you know, the ones sold in the round tins with the twist handles that prop open the lid). However, Kiwi has been remaking itself and in 2007 contributed $310 million in sales to Sara Lee Corporation.

The Wall Street Journal, 20 December 2007, reports how two years ago, Kiwi “interviewed 3500 people in eight countries about their shoe care needs” and they found that “on a list of more than 20 attributes people desired in their shoes, shine ranked merely 17th.” Kiwi went on to re-architect the company from being a shoe shine-centric one to one with a varied shoe care product line more in tune with customer needs for fresh smelling and comfortable shoes.

The Chief Executive of Kiwi states─ “‘it became clear: innovation was a key value of ours’…but innovation wasn’t enough…products had to be informed by the needs and desires of consumers.”

Kiwi’s approach was very much in line with User-centric EA. They focused on the user requirements first and foremost. Then, and only then, did they apply innovation to new products to satisfy the needs.

The company went on to develop: “’fresh’ins’ (thin lightly fragranced shoe inserts for women) and ‘smiling feet’ (a line of cushions for heels and the balls of feet, anti-slip pads and strips that can be placed behind the straps of high-heel sling-back shoes.”) Kiwi transformed itself and became “a foot care brand without losing its edge as the world’s shoe-care expert.”

How did they transform themselves?

1) Requirements gathering: They surveyed and sought to understand their customers’ needs.
2) Solution analysis and design: They consulted podiatrists and physiologists “to understand foot anatomy and how bacteria trigger odor buildup in shoes.”
3) Prototype development: Kiwi created “prototypes that customers could actually put on their feet.”
4) Marketing planning: Kiwi designed new packaging and made a new merchandising system for in store displays that grouped “their women’s products, athletic products, [and] shoe shine products by color─moves intended to make the shoe-care aisle easier to shop.”

Kiwi implemented a true User-centric EA approach to its transformation efforts. They did not let advances in foot care products drive the business approach, but rather they let the consumers and their requirements drive the business and its product development expansion. Moreover, the company focused not only on product development, but integrated a comprehensive solution to meet their consumer needs through a whole new line of foot care products (augmenting their shoe care line) and incorporated testing and marketing to ensure a successful launch. What an amazing feat for Kiwi (no pun intended)!


December 19, 2007

Social-Comparison Theory and Enterprise Architecture

We all compare ourselves to others, that’s human nature, and its part of what’s called Social-Comparison Theory.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 18 September 2007 states that “we compare ourselves to others because it can feel great,” as when we compare ourselves to higher status individuals to improve self-image by association or when we compare ourselves to others less fortunate.
Social comparison can also make us feel horrible when we feel relative deprivation compared to those who have more than us (more money, power, family, friends, social status, even better health, and so on).

While we probably can never stop comparing, we can stop being jealous (in fact, that is one of the 10 commandments). And realizing that “everyone’s got their basket’—that includes both good and bad in life as well as their own challenges and demons to confront, can make this possible.

In the work environment, the feeling of relative deprivation is lessened, when one realizes as the WSJ puts it that “company leaders aren’t [necessarily] the wizards you thought…’a boss has intellectual limitations just like we all do.’”

The WSJ gives a funny example of “when he once rushed past a secretary to speak to an executive, she tried to stop him, implying the boss was busy with important work, [and] ‘he was playing Solitare.’”

So the lesson is we are all human; no super humans out there (like they portray in the TV series Heroes).

From a User-centric EA perspective, it is important to realize as we work with leadership, subject matter experts, users, and other stakeholders inside and out the enterprise that we are all just people. And for EA to be successful in planning or governance, there must be a collaborative effort by many people to make it happen. So don't get frustrated, discouraged, angry, or jealous of others; whether you look up, down, or sideways at the people you work with (or in your private life), have confidence in their humanity and yours, and work the best you can together to make things better today than they were the prior day.

Indoor Positioning System and Enterprise Architecture

Many of us are users or are familiar with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) Navigation, such as the Garmin, which many people use in their cars for navigating their streets and highways. If you ever have tried to use it indoors, you know it doesn’t work typically because the signal inside buildings is too weak and frequently bounces off surfaces.

However, CNET provides a report by Reuters on 12 December 2007 that there is a new satellite navigation system (developed by French company, Thales) that actually works indoors. It is called an Indoor Positioning System (IPS).

What could this new satellite navigation capability be used for?

IPS “was aimed initially at helping fire services, although it could also be used by the police and armed forces. Eventually, it could also be applied in the consumer market and offered as an additional service with GPS-enabled cell phones, allowing users to navigate around shopping malls or airports.”

How does it work?

“The new system was based on a new kind of radio signal, called Ultra Wide Band, designed for very short range and high data-rate links. It uses radio pulses that can, for example, establish the positions of firefighters inside a building with respect to each other and to fire trucks outside.”

From a User-centric EA perspective, this new technology is very exciting. I don’t know about you all, but I very much appreciate my GPS when traveling or stuck in traffic and looking for an alternate route─it is truly invaluable. The extension of this technology for indoor use, potentially linked with our cell phones, makes for a terrific capability for professionals, like emergency first responders, or everyday consumers, like you and I, who can benefit from knowing where we’re going and how to get there. Like EA itself, IPS will help us locate the where we’re going (similar to the target architecture) and will tell us how to get there (like the EA transition plan). IPS is a great new technology for architects to be on the lookout for and a simile for enterprise architecture, itself.


December 18, 2007

Do Me a Favor and Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architects need to collaborate with lots of people inside and outside the organization. Collaboration is a must-have for developing and maintaining relevant content in the enterprise architecture, so that it is current, accurate, and complete representation of the business and technology and in order that the targets and transition plan be validated, accepted, and followed. Collaboration is also vital for effective IT governance through the EA Board, in which subject matter experts come together to review proposed new IT products, products, and standards and provide findings and recommendations on these for the apportionment of IT funding by the Investment Review Board.

The question is do people willingly and openingly collaborate for the good of the organization or is it a “no tickee, no shirtee” world (i.e. one in which people collaborate when there is clearly something it in it for them, even if it’s only the ability to call in a future favor)?

The Wall Street Journal, 18 December 2007, states: “people can’t resist doing a big favor—or asking for any office’s underground economy, favors are the currency by which productivity is purchased and goodwill is gained.”

“Some favors are done with the expectation of nothing returned. Others are performed in the spirit of getting.” One college administrator tells how she “has run into colleagues whose job includes easy access to information. But it doesn’t seem easy when she asks for it. ‘they act like it’s moving a mountain…people think they’re doing this enormous favor.’” Similarly, asking one’s busy colleagues for information for building or maintaining the EA, can be often met with anything from genuine enthusiasm to mild resistance to outright hostility.

Interestingly enough, studies show that if you preface a request (such as for collaboration or information for the EA) with the phrase “can you do me a favor”, compliance goes up significantly. In a study by Stanford’s graduate school of business, the participation in a questionnaire actually went up from 57% to 84%!

Whether as enterprise architects, you preface requests for collaboration to build the EA by asking for a favor or not is a matter of personal preference. However, I believe that the quality of your relationship at work and the maturity of the processes of your EA program will certainly play a factor in people’s cooperation. Strong relationships and mature processes for simplifying the collection of information or validating information helps to ensure ongoing program support. Maybe even more important is strong marketing and communication for the EA program, so that people understand the mandates for the EA, the benefits, the processes, the roles, and the overall vision, targets, and transition plan. In terms of benefits, clearly showing people the “what’s in it for me” is critical and explaining why it’s good for the enterprise as a whole is a not so distant second, but both help people to understand their need to participate, favor or not.


Power of Persuasion and Enterprise Architecture

In Fortune Magazine, 12 November 2007, Retired General Wesley Clark explains “Leadership is the art of persuading the other fellow to want to do what you want him to do.”

Wesley K. Clark, Former Supreme Commander of NATO, explains that effective execution of power, includes the following:

Key lesson #1:

In business, it is important to motivate through the power of shared goals, shared objectives, and shared standards.”

Clark goes on to explain that there are three ways to persuade others:

  • Education—“Employee education is one of the most cost-effective investments that businesses can make.”
  • Participation—“Employees need to become vested in their work through participation.”
  • Co-option—“Building and maintaining the emotional bonds of teamwork, loyalty, and trust.”

Key lesson #2:

”Essentially leaders have to sell themselves and their programs to their teams, in order to influence.”

Leadership, influence, persuasion, building shared community—these are all necessary skills to developing and maintaining an effective User-centric EA program. Architecture isn’t done in a vacuum or an ivory tower, it’s a grass roots effort that takes leadership skills to motivate others through the development of shared goals and objectives—such as, business-technology alignment, information sharing and accessibility, systems interoperability and component re-use, technology standardization and simplification, and information confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy.

We get to these EA goals, through educating others, engaging with them, and building a shared vision and sense of team, and “not by calling in the air-force.” as Wesley Clark would say.


December 17, 2007

Information Privacy and Enterprise Architecture

The Privacy Act of 1974 states: “no agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains.” However, there are certain exception for statistical, archival, and law enforcement purposes.

What is privacy?

In MIT Technology Review, “The Talk of The Town: You—Rethinking Privacy In an Immodest Age” (November/December 2007), by Mark Williams, the author states Columbia University professor emeritus of public law Alan F. Westin defines privacy as, ‘the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others.’”

Do we have privacy?

Already in 1999, Sun Microsystems chairman Scott ­McNealy stated, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.

These days, there is no illusion of privacy, as young people routinely put their biographical details and images online at a myriad of social-networking websites. Moreover, “kids casually accept that the record of their lives could be Googled by anyone at any time…some even considered their elders' expectations about privacy to be a weird, old-fogey thing--a narcissistic hang-up.”

Privacy is certainly not an absolute, especially since we need to balance the right to privacy against the first amendment guarantee of free speech. However, when people think their rights to privacy has been abused they have recourse to tort, defamation, and privacy law.

EA’s role in privacy:

User-centric EA supports the Investment Review Board selection, prioritization, and funding of new IT investments with architecture reviews and assessments; these EA reviews include a detailed appraisal of everything in the “information” perspective, including information management, sharing, accessibility, assurance, records, and of course privacy issues.

Furthermore, more detailed privacy impact assessments (PIAs) must be conducted, according to the the E-Government Act of 2002, “when developing or procuring IT systems or projects that collect, maintain or disseminate information in identifiable form from or about members of the public.”

Although Generation Y does not particularly seem to value their privacy as you'd expect, EA, along with the privacy officer and the chief information security officer, plays a critical role in monitoring and ensuring the privacy of information managed by the enterprise.

Master Data Management and Enterprise Architecture

“Master Data Management (MDM), also known as Reference Data Management, is a sub-discipline of data architecture within Information Technology (IT) that focuses on the management of reference or master data that is shared by several disparate IT systems and groups. MDM is required to enable consistent computing between diverse system architectures and business functions.” (Wikipedia)

Master data are the critical nouns of a business and fall generally into four groupings: people, things, places, and concepts. Further categorizations within those groupings are called subject areas, domain areas, or entity types…Master data can be described by the way that it interacts with other data. For example, in transaction systems, master data is almost always involved with transactional data. A customer buys a product. A vendor sells a part, and a partner delivers a crate of materials to a location… Master data can be described by the way that it is Created, Read, Updated, Deleted, and searched. This life cycle is called the CRUD cycle…Why should I manage master data? Because it is used by multiple applications, an error in master data can cause errors in all the applications that use it. (“The What, Why, and How of Master Data Management” by Wolter and Haselden, Microsoft Corporation, November 2006)

How can MDM software help manage MDM? Wolter and Haselden identify three primary methods:

  • Single-copy of master data—where all changes and additions are made to the master and all applications accessing it use the current master data set
  • Multiple copies of master data—master data is updated in a single master, but the data is sent out to the source systems where data sets are stored locally and changes to non-master data can be made)
  • Continuous merge—where changes are made to the source data sets and are sent to the master to be merged and resent out to the source data sets again., in “Demystifying Master Data Management”, 30 April 2007 reports that “unfortunately, most companies don't have a precise view about their customers, products, suppliers, inventory or even employees. Whenever companies add new enterprise applications to "manage" data, they unwittingly contribute to an overall confusion about a corporation's overall view of the enterprise. As a result, the concept of master data management (MDM)—creating a single, unified view of an organization—is growing in importance.” However, the article notes that adding MDM technologies will not magically correct an organization’s data quality issues, as noted in “a recent report from The Data Warehousing Institute that found 83 percent of organizations suffer from bad data for reasons that have nothing to do with technology. Among the causes of poor-quality data were inaccurate reporting, internal disagreements over which data is appropriate and incorrect definitions rendering the data unusable.”

So the essence of an MDM initiative is to first improve data quality by developing the process to define, categorize, and identify authoritative sources for data, and only then to apply MDM software to build a single view of the data.

MDM is important to enterprise architecture for a number of reasons:

  • Information sharing—MDM is critical to information sharing, data integration, and reconciliation, as it establishes an authoritative source of data that can be shared between systems or organizational entities.
  • Data governanceMDM helps establish the basis for sound data governance, since data owners, stewards, and users need to be able to distinguish good data from bad data, define data objects, establish data standards, metadata requirements and registries for discoverability, access rights, transfer protocols and methods, and maybe most importantly a governance process that defines who is allowed to change system data and how.
  • Business IntelligenceMDM enables business intelligence by providing for an integration of data for mining, reporting, and decision support.

Creating authoritative master data is an imperative for data and systems integrity, and good decision making based on sound enterprise data.


December 16, 2007

The Dunbar 150 and Enterprise Architecture

We need a network of people in our life (family, friends, and colleagues) to accomplish most anything meaningful, including building an enterprise architecture to grow and mature an organization.

But is there a limit to how many significant others we can have?

The Wall Street Journal, 16 November 2007 reports that “several commentators and news articles have cautioned that there is a natural limit to a friendship circle. They typically cite the so-called Dunbar number, 150, as the ceiling on our personal contacts.”

However, with social networking sites and other technological means of keeping in contact (cell phones, email, instant messaging, and so on), we are looking at an expansion of our ability to connect with others and the numbers of others we can stay in contact with.

Some have questioned, whether as you increase the number of casual relationships, it comes at the expense of those closest to you—“those you turn to when in severe distress.”

Others have questioned whether technology really enables close relationships. In other words, technology helps communicate and stay in contact with larger numbers of people, but to be close “you really do need to be touchy-feely with people.”

What social networking sites do help with is “less-close friendships and acquaintances,” those “at the outer edges of your friend group…people who you don’t talk to regularly…but your likely to swap tales, or more, should your paths have a history.”

The Dunbar 150 limit on effective social interactions seems more limited to a time when people were less mobile and were confined to a single village or a lifetime job. “But modern man moves among several groups in a fragmented world.” New ranges for maintaining effective relationships are between 100 to 300.

In the end, while cheap and readily available communication can “enrich your life wih more contacts,” real relationships require more than just communication, such as mutual investments of time, giving (sacrifice), trust, and respect to name a few,

Clearly, a large undertaking like building and maintaining an enterprise architecture (that influences organization-wide decision-making, serves as a true planning mechanism, and is utilized for IT governance, cannot be done by a single architect or by a staff of architects. It is an endeavor that requires outreach and communication up and down and across the organization as well as reaching outside for best-practices and looking at market trends. To build an EA for large organization, I think the Dunbar 150 may be a limit easily exceedable by a good chief enterprise architect.

Want Versus Should and Enterprise Architecture

In the Harvard Business Review (HBR) whitepaper entitled, “Harnessing Our Inner Angels and Demons” by Milkman, Rogers, and Bazerman, the authors describe the “conflict when deciding whether to behave responsibly or indulge in impulsivity”, what the authors call the want/should conflict.

How do we define want and should?

“Some options are preferred by the should self (e.g. salads, documentary films, trips to the gym, etc.), while others are preferred by the want self (e.g. ice cream cones, action films, skipping the gym, etc.).”

How do we decide between the want and should options?

“The optimal choice between want and should options requires summing the short-run and long-run utility that would be gained from each option and selecting whichever provides more discounted net utility. Although should options have more long-run benefits than want options, in many cases the short-run benefits of a want option may be significant enough to outweigh the long-run benefits of a should option.”

An example:

While salad is a should option, and pizza a want option, we frequently chose the pizza, because the short-term instant gratification of the pizza outweighs the perceived long-terms health benefits of the salad.

How does this should/want conflict impact EA?

User-centric EA is all about making choices and trade-off decisions. The enterprise has limited resources and so must chose between IT investment options. Some of these investment may be want options and others may be should options. For example, user may want to upgrade their desktops with the “latest and greatest” computer model and options every year or two. However, the enterprise should invest in business intelligence or customer relationship management software, for example, that will yield significant long-term utility to the organization. Which option does the Investment Review Board choose? Which option is called for in the EA target architecture and transition plan? The HBR whitepaper shows us to measure the utility and make decisions based on the net utility to the enterprise. In this way, the organization gets the greatest good for its IT investment dollars.

Wii and Enterprise Architecture

We all think of kids and teens playing with video games like the Wii, but how about senior citizens?

Well, The Washington Post, 15 December 2007, reports in “Granny Got Game” that “Wii’s move-around style appeals to a new demographic,” the senior citizen.

“Bingo is looking a little like last year’s thing, as video games have recently grabbed a spot the hot new activity. More specifically, retirees are enthusiastically taking to games on the Wii.”

One 73 year old retired marine says he “likes that the Wii emulates the motion of real sports.” And research has shown the physical games are helpful in fighting obesity, similar to how mental activity is beneficial in staving off dementia.

Market research company ESA states that “in 2007, 24 percent of Americans over age 50 played video games, an increase from 9 percent in 1999.” The seniors seem to enjoy games, such as Wii “hockey, bowling, shooting, fishing, and billiards.”

For Nintendo the maker of the Wii, demand from the various demographics continues to outpace supply. “Some analysts have said the company could sell twice as many as it is making available today, even as it puts out 1.8 million units a month.”

The Wii is a brilliant stroke of User-centric enterprise architecture. The Wii is a genuinely a technology product with mass market consumer appeal with users in demographics that range from children to seniors. It is the fulfillment of IT planning by Nintendo, which “had always wanted to appeal to a large consumer base with the Wii.”

Nintendo hit a home run by aligning the Wii technology to the requirements of their users. Nintendo did this by developing a technology solution to handle not only people’s desire for gaming and entertainment, but also their need for physical activity and sports. What’s particularly amazing is that video games, which have traditionally been for kids and teens have extended their reach so much so that “among retirement communities…the Wii is ‘the hottest thing out there.’” That is good User-centric EA in action!


December 15, 2007

Monopoly and Enterprise Architecture

Monopoly─“a board game published by Parker Brothers, an imprint of Hasbro.…since Charles Darrow patented the game in 1935, approximately 750 million people have played the game, making it "the most played [commercial] board game in the world.” (Wikipedia)

Now according to The Washington Post, 15 December 2007, the classic board game is getting a technology makeover.

Monopoly “is one of the most popular games ever…its colored stacks of money─from the white $1 bills to the coveted bright orange $500 bills—have iconic status.”

Yet, even this classic game is being re-architected for the 21st century. In a new edition of Monopoly released this year, electronic bank cards replace colored money and the processes to track your game’s transactions has been reengineered and replaces good old-fashioned counting and scorekeeping.

The changeover in the game of Monopoly is mimicked in the new game of Life, Twists & Turns, and is a reflection of the change in society from being currency-based (with bills and change) to credit and debit cards. As a senior analyst at a consumer behavior research firm states: “I think this is a case of updating the game play/design to reflect the times.”

These days, “our wealth (or lack thereof) becomes just a number, printed on a bland receipt spit out from an ATM.” Moreover, “cash has become such a hassle that it is a nuisance even in our imaginations.” Imagine that: saying the cash is a nuisance (I bet that is a nuisance that a lot of people would like to get their hands on. J)

So Hasbro has reinvented the game to reflect changes in our society. This is a clear case of technology (electronic bank cards) being applied to a business problem (the out-datedness of the paper-based currency in the game). This is enterprise architecture and consumer marketing at work together and in tandem.

If even the Monopoly game that I used to play with as a kid can be refashioned with some good ‘ol doses of EA, imagine what EA can do for other businesses, products, and services. Reengineering business processes and applying technology to improve outcomes is a plus for board games, but an even stronger medicine for organizations and our economy.


December 14, 2007

Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Enterprise Architecture

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was the thirty-second President of the United States. Elected to four terms in office, he served from 1933 to 1945, and is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms. A central figure of the 20th century during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war, he has consistently been ranked as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents in scholarly surveys.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Roosevelt created the New Deal to provide relief for the unemployed, recovery of the economy, and reform of the economic and banking systems. Although recovery of the economy was incomplete until almost 1940, many programs initiated in the Roosevelt administration continue to have instrumental roles in the nation's commerce, such as the FDIC, TVA, and the SEC. One of his most important legacies is the Social Security system.”

“The New Deal had three components: direct relief, economic recovery, and financial reform. These goals were also called the ‘Three Rs.’"

  • Relief was the immediate effort to help the one-third of the population most affected by the depression.
  • Recovery was the effort in many programs to restore normal economic health.
  • Reform was based on the idea that the Great Depression was caused by market instability and that government intervention was necessary to balance the interests of farmers, business and labor.”

President Roosevelt was a man of great accomplishment:

  • Domestically—“On the homefront his term saw the vast expansion of industry, the achievement of full employment, restoration of prosperity and new opportunities opened for African-Americans and women.”
  • Internationally, At War—Additionally, during World War II, “Roosevelt…provided decisive leadership against Nazi Germany and made the United States the principal arms supplier and financier of the Allies who later, alongside the United States, defeated Germany, Italy and Japan.”
  • Internationally, At Peace—“Roosevelt played a critical role in shaping the post-war world, particularly through the Yalta Conference and the creation of the United Nations.”
  • Personally—FDR showed amazing courage and was determined to regain use of his legs (that had been laid waste from the disease polio) through swimming.

(adapted from Wikipedia)

Wow, what an amazing President!

FDR was the impedemy of a doer and fighter. When the world was in chaos, whether from the Great Depression, World War II, or on a personal level when he contracted Polio at age 39, he came out with a plan and acted on it—whether the war he was fighting was povery and social ills, fascism and totalitarianism, or personal illness—FDR was a man of action and achievement, and this country was the great beneficiary.

FDR “brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action, and asserted in his Inaugural Address, ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’” (

FDR is a role model for leadership, but to me, he is also a paradigm for User-centric EA. Why? EA done correctly is not only about having a plan OR about taking action, but rather it is about developing a sound plan AND executing on it the way FDR did over and over again over 4 terms as President. He came up with the plan for the New Deal and successfully executed it, so that 75 years later many elements are still fundamental to our system of social and economic policy and administration. Also, FDR came up with a plan to defeat the Axis in WWII and he with Winston Churchill led us to success. Unfortunately, no amount of planning or execution could successfully fight Polio before the discovery of a vaccine by Jonas Salk.

In summary, EA is not only about planning and governance, but it’s about helping the organization to execute and achieve on its plan. EA does this by developing the transition plan, which logically sequences incremental change for the organization, as well as by working closely with leadership, subject matter experts and stakeholders to actually guide and influence positive change.

All EA practitioners can learn to plan and execute from the master, FDR!


Disruptive Technologies and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric EA plans for the future of the enterprise and is on the lookout for both incremental innovation as well as disruptive technologies.
  • A disruptive technology is a technological innovation, product, or service that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology or status quo product in the market. Sometimes, a disruptive technology comes to dominate an existing market by either filling a role in a new market or by successively moving up-market through performance improvements until finally displacing the market incumbents. (Adapted from Wikipedia).Disruptive technologies are innovations on steroids.
  • Innovations improve product performance of established products. Innovations are often incremental; however, they can also be radical or discontinuous.

How does EA plan for innovation, whether incremental or those that are revolutionary and disruptive?

  • Structure and content—First, EA captures critical baseline and forward looking content from subject matter experts and is responsible for developing a useful and usable structure for the content which enables analysis and recommendation for filling gaps, eliminating redundancies, and creating efficiencies through new technology solutions and process improvement. EA does not actually "own" the content of the architecture. EA develops and maintains the structure. EA works with the subject matter experts (business and technical) to capture the content. In general, facilitates the architecture development, maintenance, and use, so that the content stays current, accurate, and complete, is easy to understand, and is readily accessible to end-users.
  • Synthesis of business and technology—EA synthesizes business and technical information to get a holistic view of the enterprise and where it is going in terms of mission execution performance, functions and process, information requirements, and technology solutions. In this way, EA ensures that new technologies are aligned to mission (i.e. that business is driving technology, rather than technology for technologies sake).
  • Target architecture—EA captures explicit and explicit information in the enterprise and conducts market research and outreach to partners to continuously understand the business and technical landscape and how it may be changing and builds this into the target architecture.
  • Change management (transition plan)—EA believes in a phased approach to change, and helps to manage, guide, and influence these through EA information products and governance services (such as EA Board technical reviews of new EA projects, products, and standards). So even though technology may be radically changing, EA will guide the organization through a phased transition plan, such that the enterprise vets proposed changes, gradually adopts new innovations and is able to integrate it with its existing processes successfully. In other words, EA seeks to ensure that technology is not brought in prematurely, before business process reengineering or improvement occurs. Thus, even though technologies may be disruptive from a market perspective, they are not disruptive to the organization and its mission performance. There is always innovation, and this is a great thing for all of us. It provides us with new opportunities and better, faster, and cheaper ways of doing things.

EA is at the forefront in facilitating innovation—continuously scanning for innovations to bring into the target architecture, conducting regular outreach and market research to synthesize business and technology information, building a useful framework for the EA information, and vetting and phasing in change in consumable chunks by the organization.


The Dialectic and Enterprise Architecture

Hegel [a German philosopher (1770-1831)] stresses the paradoxical nature of consciousness; he knows that the mind wants to know the whole truth, but that it cannot think without drawing a distinction. Unfortunately, every distinction has two terms, every argument has a counter-argument, and consciousness can only focus on one of these at a time. So it fixes first on the one, then under pressure fixes second on the other, until it finally comes to rest on the distinction itself. Hegel refers to this process of alternation and rest as dialectic. Dialectical motion has three stages: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.”

Here is an example of how the dialectic works:

  • Thesis: Starting point—the glass is half full
  • Antithesis: Negation of the thesis—the glass is half empty
  • Synthesis: Negation of the opposition between thesis and antithesis—the glass is half full and half empty

The mind generally moves from one side of an opposition to another, finally discovering a deeper unity from which the two sides are derived.”


In common man’s terms, I believe this is like the metaphor of the swinging pendulum. The pendulum swings from one side to the opposite (like one’s thinking or behavior), until finally settling somewhere in the middle. The dialectic is little deeper in that it has the added dimension of not just a middle position, but actually a synthesis of the two extremes.

In Judaism, there is a principle similar to the “synthesis” in the dialectic, advocated by the Rambam, called the Shvil Hazahav, the golden path. The golden path is also sometimes referred to as the middle of the road approach. This is the concept of the importance of maintaining a balance in one’s thinking, behavior, and in life, in general. Extremes on either side (to the right or to the left) are viewed as negative and possibly even dangerous. But by following the path in the middle, a person is on “safe ground” and will thrive.

In User-centric EA, the dialectic is central to the EA practitioner and EA is a major synthesizing agent in the organization, in the following ways:

  • EA practitioners take two dialectical opposites (business and technology) and bring synthesis to them. EA practitioners integrates the two realities of the organization, business and IT: business drives technology and technology enables business. EA is a communication channel and mechanism for bridging the needs of the business with the capabilities and solutions of technology.
  • EA synthesizes the architectures of all the distinct lines of business, users, and developers. EA is not focused on the individual segments (lines of business) or on solutions (users and developers), but on the synthesis of these—the overall enterprise itself.
  • EA develops the target and transition plan for the organization; in doing this, it hears positions and requirements from many different leaders, subject matter experts, and stakeholders, and must synthesize these into a viable and effective strategy for the organization.
EA, like the dialectic, synthesizes various extremes to derive deeper meaning from the distinct elements (such as business and technology, segment and solutions architecture, leaders and subject matter experts). By synthesizing various types of information, EA perspectives, stakeholders, and architectural views, EA brings out a richer, deeper meaning of IT planning and governance for the organization.


Porter's Five Forces Model and Enterprise Architecture

“Porter's 5 forces analysis is a framework for industry analysis and business strategy development developed by Michael E. Porter in 1979 of Harvard Business School….It uses…5 forces to determine the competitive intensity and therefore attractiveness of a market…They consist of those forces close to a company that affect its ability to serve its customers and make a profit. A change in any of the forces normally requires a company to re-assess the marketplace…Strategy consultants use Porter's five forces framework when making a qualitative evaluation of a firm's strategic position..”

Porter's Five Forces include the following:

Three forces from 'horizontal' competition -

  1. threat of substitute products
  2. the threat of established rivals
  3. the threat of new entrants

and two forces from 'vertical' competition -

  1. the bargaining power of suppliers
  2. bargaining power of customers

(Adapted from Wikipedia)

“The definition of your industry and competition is not a ‘mechanical task’, but requires objectivity and imagination. Strategic planning is not only about today’s customer needs and today’s competitors, but also about future needs and future competitors.”

Porter’s Five Forces Model helps identify industry forces and market attractiveness. Combining the Five Forces (“microenvironmental factors”) with other factors like technological change, growth and volatility of the market, and government and regulatory intervention (“macroenvironmental factors”) is a powerful tool for market analysis and strategy development.

(Adapted from American Management Association)

The Five Forces Model is a terrific tool to understand your industry and decide whether you have a competitive advantage (cost, technological…) that will enable you to serve your customers and do it profitably.Analyzing the Five Forces helps EA practitioners to understand their organization’s competition—and decide whether the enterprise can deliver their value proposition more effectively than their competitors and successfully defend against them. EA is not only about technology differentiation, but also about general planning and governing for the organization's success and longevity.

Furthermore, the competitive environment is constantly changing. So the enterprise can never feel “fat and happy” and ignore micro- and macroeconomic factors. The successful strategy in today’s marketplace may be a failing strategy in tomorrow’s. Therefore, EA must constantly monitor the environment and adapt its strategy accordingly.


Architecting Politics With Mind Reading

Enterprise architecture is good when it help the organization improve mission execution and achieve desired results of operation. However, what happens when it is used to influence politics and elections, such as through the application of brain scanning technology to get votes?

The Wall Street Journal, 14 December 2007 reports that neuroscience and mind reading is being used for “monitoring voters’ brains, pupils and pulses, [and] may be more effective than listening to what they have to say.”

How is this monitoring taking place?

Technology is being applied to support the information requirements of the mission, which in this case is to see what provokes positive images and voting tendencies from candidates to the populace. For example, recently, “volunteers watched the debate while wearing electrode-studded headsets that track electrical activity in the brain.”

How widespread is this?

Neuromarketing firms across the country are pitching their services to presidential campaigns.” One example is “a biofeedback program that tracks brain waves, pupil dilation, perspiration, and facial-muscle movements.”

One Stanford political scientist, who works with the American National Election Studies, that “we need a tricky way to get into people’s minds and find out who they’re going to vote for instead of asking directly.” Another research director stated, “traditional methods of polling voters are sometimes inaccurate — ‘people may say one thing in a focus group and do another thing in the voting booth.’”

How long has this been going on?

“In the 1980s, focus groups became popular, as did ‘dial groups’ where participants register their reactions to candidates with electronic dials. The most cited innovation in 2004 was microtargeting, a strategy borrowed from corporate marketing firms that involves tailoring specific messages to individual households based on their consumer profiles…in recent years, advances in brain scanning technology have allowed researchers to identify areas of the brain involved in political beliefs.”

The neuroethics program director at the University of Pennsylvania stated that “taken to its logical limit, it’s a kind of mind reading." While a democratic strategist stated that “the wide adoption of these techniques is inevitable.”

From a User-centric EA perspective, one has to wonder whether this type of “mind reading” and architecting of politics using the latest in brain scanning technologies is really appropriate. Why are we “tailoring the message" to voters, based on the technical scanning of their brains, instead of being honest and forthright about political means and ends. Perhaps, we are getting to slick with the technology and applying it a little too liberally to an area that should be quite personal and important – people’s politics and voting behaviors.


December 13, 2007

Wanted Enterprise Architect!

A friend at work sent me an interesting article from Business Intelligence Review ( 13 December 2007 about someone who recently went to the Gartner EA Summit in Las Vegas and what he learnt about enterprise architects.

He writes that “If you set out to write the most outlandish job description in corporate America, your classified ad might read something like this:

Wanted: Person or persons to chart IT and business transformation in a huge, old established corporation. Candidate(s) will model current and future states of business drivers, regulation and market dynamics along with the functional role structure of all business units and sub-units. Candidate must understand and relate technology projects and project portfolio, integration programs, application and information systems, business processes (and everything else we own) to business optimization for future planned market dominance. Salary TBD.”

Later the author recounts how “one vendor described, the perfect EA might be ‘half cowboy VP with clout, half academic.’ It’s a situational role.”

He goes to say that while “most demonstrations I saw represented the incipient need for EA more than its result. You could say that EA is in part providing some insurance against future risk and some assurance that investments will make more sense going forward …You can’t help but salute these individuals, their visionary companies and the work they are doing.”

From my perspective, I don’t know about the cowboy VP with clout piece, but what I do know is that EA is not a job for the faint of heart.

An enterprise architect must understand and be able to straddle both the business and technical sides of the house. EA’s have responsibility for architecture perspectives that range from performance, business, information, systems, technology, and security. They must understand not only the mission and business functions and processes and desired results of operation, but also how that translates into information requirements and various technology solutions. Further, EA’s need to be able to translate the business requirements to the techies. Simultaneously, EA’s must be knowledgeable in a broad swath of technology areas (such as systems, technologies, standards, IT security, information sharing techniques, IT best practices, IT governance, IT planning, service oriented architecture, modeling, and so on). Enterprise architects must be able to not only know the current technologies, but also have an eye out toward the emerging. EA’s must be able to explain technical jargon in simple, easy-to-understand language to business executives and program offices. EA’s develop the current and planned state of the enterprise and a path for getting from one to the other.

EA’s need to work across the entire organization, as well as up and down the hierarchy—from being expert in enterprise architecture, to also being highly knowledgeable in line of business segment architectures and developers’ solutions architecture. EA have to develop and maintain catalogues of information; business, data, and systems models, and high-level visual profiles that can “paint a picture” for executives in 5 seconds or less. EA must not only develop and maintain these information assets, but they must be able to analyze them and come up with meaningful, actionable findings and recommendations (like gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities) for executive management. EA’s should be experts in organizational culture and change management/tranformation. EA needs to be able to articulate its vision for the organization and to present regularly to staff, management, and executives. EA’s provide not only information products to the enterprise, but also governance services in terms of technical reviews of new IT projects, products, and standards. EA’s deal with internal subject matter experts and stakeholders and also external private and public sector entities that provide best practices, legal requirements, and other mandates.

EA is a challenging, invaluable, and awesome field to work in!


December 11, 2007

Information Security and Enterprise Architecture

Information security is generally considered a cross-cutting area of enterprise architecture. However, based on its importance to the overall architecture, I treat information security as its own perspective (similar to performance, business, information, services, and technology).

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 11 December 2007, professional hackers are getting smarter and more sophisticated in their attacks and this requires new IT tools to protect the enterprise. Here are some of the suggestions:

  1. Email scams—“hackers have responded to improved filtering software and savvier population by aiming their attacks at specific individuals, using publicly available information to craft a message designed to dupe a particular person of group of people” In response, organizations are installing antivirus and antimalware software from multiple vendors to increase the chance, the an attack that gets by one security software products, will be stopped by one of the others. These products can be obtained from vendors like Sophos, Sybari, Micosoft, Symantec, and McAfee.
  2. Key loggers—“one common form of malware is a key logger, which captures the user names and passwords that an unsuspecting computer user types, and then sends these to a hacker.” However, software from Biopassword Inc. can thwart this by recording employees typing rhythms, so that even a hacker that knows a username and password is denied access if he types too fast or too slow.
  3. Patrolling the network—hackers who get past the firewall often have free rein to roam once inside the network. However, CoSentry Networks Inc. has a product that imposes controls on where a user can go on the network, so even someone with a valid login will be prevented from snooping around the network or accessing information from an unapproved location.
  4. Policing the police—one of the biggest threats to an enterprise is from the insiders, employees who have access to the systems and information. Software from Application Security Inc., however, monitors access, changes, repeated failed logins, and suspicious activity and notifies the designated security officer.

From a user-centric EA standpoint, information security is paramount to protect the enterprise, its mission execution, its employees, and stakeholders. As the WSJ points out, “breaches of corporate computer security have reached epidemic proportions. So far this year more than 270 organizations have lost sensitive information like customer credit-card or employee social security numbers—and those are just the ones that have disclosed such incidents publicly.” EA must help the chief information security officer to identify these enterprise security threats and select appropriate countermeasures to implement.


December 10, 2007

An Ant Colony and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric enterprise architecture supplies critical business and technical information to the end users in the organization to enhance IT planning, governance, and overall decision-making. When developed and communicated effectively, EA is a tremendous information asset to the organization that aids the enterprise in making sound IT investment decisions, aligning technology to mission, and enhancing results of operation.

In the book The Art of War for Executives by Donald G. Krause, the author shows that Sun Tzu’s model for effective, or what he calls “Natural Organizations,” is based on their existence to serve a specific purpose, their information-centered capability, and their adaptability. All of which are highly supportive of the need for a strong EA!

  1. Defined purpose—enterprises need to have a clear mission and this is supported by an enterprise architecture that captures performance outcomes, mission functions, process, activities, and tasks, and seeks to provide the information required to perform those.
  2. Information-centered—“organizations seek and use data as a basis for action. They avoid unwarranted opinion and conjecture, choosing to deal with uncertainty by estimating reasonable probabilities.” Enterprise with a strong EA, with useful and useable information products, have the requisite information to base meaningful decisions on.
  3. Adaptability—“organizations respond quickly and effectively to changes in their environment.” Setting realistic EA targets and transition plans help an organization first of all assess their environment and then to make requisite plans to address change.

Ant colonies are an example of effective organizations that rely on EA-like capabilities:

“Ant colonies have survived for hundreds of millions of years. They exist solely for the purpose of providing food and shelter to its members…are totally information-centered (seeking information about food and shelter and transmitting that to others in the organization), and adapt by changing location and methods to take advantage of opportunities discovered by members.” (adapted from The Art of War For Executives)

While human organizations are obviously more complex than ant colonies and survive by more than simply the search for food and shelter, the simile is apropos:

  • When applied to Sun Tzu’s army, their philosophy for success hinged, like the ant colony, on their ability to come together for a defined purpose, in their case to handle whatever threat or opportunity arose.
  • Sun Tzu’s superior commanders were information-centered, succeeding “in situations where ordinary people fail because they obtain more timely information and use it more quickly,”—they gather, process, use, and give out information.
  • The adaptability of Sun Tzu’s army, enabled them to “respond quickly and adapt readily to changing circumstances…like water, they flow around obstacles and challenges, always seeking to follow the most effective path.”

Like the tried and true success factors for Sun Tzu’s army or the regimented, age-old ant colonies found around the world, organizations succeed through defined purpose, information-centricity, and flexibility. And EA, as a discipline, assists in all of these: focusing and magnifying an organization’s purpose through a well documented and communicated architecture; ensuring information discovery and exchange—often through technology—to support business processes; helping an organization to readily adapt and change through the establishment of targets and transition plans to remain competitive and successful in the marketplace.

From an information perspective, efficient organizations mimic organizations with strong EA’s:

  • Organizations “much like new computer chips…create a greater number of channels to move information faster. They also reduce system overhead by reducing unnecessary intramural data requirements (e.g. interoffice memos, unused reports). They increase system response by obtaining more and higher quality information; by training organization members to use information properly; by ensuring that organization members have quick access to data and allowing them to make and execute informed decision based on information; and by efficiently transmitting information to organization members and outsiders.

In large measure, information is at the center of an EA program. EA information is used for helping organization end-users make better IT decisions, and technology investments helps provide information better, faster, and cheaper to support the mission. Like an ant colony survives on information, an organization’s very survival can depend on timely and actionable information.


December 9, 2007

Master of Paradox and the Enterprise Architect

As enterprise architects, we need to have clarity of vision to see what is and to chart a way ahead for the organization. Yet, we live amidst polarities and paradoxes, which are challenges for every enterprise architect to see through.

In the book The Empty Raincoat, by Charles Handy, the author identifies nine paradoxes that we need not only be aware of, but also be focused on, so that we can find a better way forward for ourselves, our enterprises, and society.

Here are the top six paradoxes (of nine) of our time:

  1. Intelligence—“brains are replacing brawn…knowledge and know-how is the new source of wealth, [yet] it is impossible to give people intelligence by decree, to redistribute it. It is not even possible to leave it to your children when you die…It is not possible to take this new form of intelligence away from anyone. Intelligence is sticky…nor is it possible to own someone else’s intelligence…It is hard to prevent the brains walking out the door if they want to…intelligence is a leaky form of property. [Finally,] intelligence tends to go where intelligence is. Well educated people give their families good education.”
  2. Work—“some have work and money, but too little time, while others have all he time, but no work and no money…we also use money as the measure of efficiency. Our organizations, therefore want the most work for the least money while individuals typically want the most money for the least work.”
  3. Productivity—“productivity means ever more and ever better work from ever fewer people…as more and more people get pushed out or leave organizations…[they] do for themselves, what they used to pay others to do for them.” In a sense the newly unemployed stifle market demand and further growth.
  4. Time—“we never seem to have enough time, yet there has never been so much time available to us. We live longer and we use less time to make and do things as we get more efficient…[yet] we have created an insidious cycle of work and spend, as people increasing look to consumption to give satisfaction and even meaning to their lives.”
  5. Riches—“economic growth depends, ultimately, on more and more people wanting more and more and more things…If , however, we look only at the rich societies, we see them producing fewer babies every year and living longer. Fewer babies mean fewer customers, eventually, while living longer lives mean, usually poorer and more choosy customers.”
  6. Organizations—“more than ever, they need to be global and local at the same time, to be small in some ways but big in others, to be centralized some of the time and decentralized most of it. They expect their workers to be more autonomous and more of a team, their managers to be more delegating and more controlling…they have to be planned yet flexible, be differentiated and integrated at the same time, be mass-marketers while catering for many niches, they must introduce new technology, but allow workers to be masters of their own destiny; they must find ways to get variety and quality and fashion, and all at low-cost.”

Can we as enterprise architects ever resolve these paradoxes?

While, we cannot resolve the polarities of society, we can find ways to balance them, move between the extremes “intelligently,” as appropriate for the situation, and search for better way to adapt. We do this not only to survive, but to help our organizations and society thrive in spite of the paradoxes. “Life will never be easy, nor perfectible, nor completely predictable. It will be best understood backwards [20-20 hindsight], but we have to live it forwards. To make it livable, at all levels, we have to learn to use paradoxes, to balance the contradictions and the inconsistencies and to use them as an invitation to find a better way.”

So as architects what specifically can we do?

As architects, we are advisors to the Chief Information Officer (from a technology-business alignment perspective), Chief Financial Officer (from an IT investment perspective), and to the Chief Procurement Officer and Line of Business Program Managers (from an IT execution standpoint) and other organizational decision-makers. In this advisory role, we can help point out the polarities and paradoxes that may be driving the organization one way or the other, or actually in a conflicting, bi-directional manner. As advisors, we can highlight gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities and suggest ways to improve or capitalize on this. But most importantly of all, by having a structured way of thinking about IT planning and governance, we can provide a perspective to the organization that may otherwise be neglected or trashed (in favor of operations), and we can provide clarity to the organization in terms of planning and governance processes, when the organization may otherwise just be blowing around in the wind of universal contention.

"There are kings [executives] and there are prophets [architects]...the kings have the power and the prophets have the principles...but every king needs his prophet, to help him, and increasingly her, keep a clear head amidst all the confusions...prophets in spite of their name, do not foretell the future. No one can do that...What prophets can do is tell the truth as they see it."

December 8, 2007

Relationships and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric enterprise architecture captures, analyzes, categorizes, and serves up information to enhance decision-making capability in the organization. However, it is not only information alone that helps us make better decisions, but also developing and nurturing important personal relationships.

In the book, It’s Not Business, It’s personal by Ronna Lichtenberg, the author reminds us that relationships are key to personal and professional success and deeply affect our decision-making ability.

  • Lichtenberg asks, “is there room in our new millennium, ‘’ world for relationships? Some folks would tell you there isn’t, that all that matters is performance and speed…the only problem is that all this speed has made us, to use a high-tech word, kludgy…as we whiz by one another, we don’t really connect. Which means that every decision is more complicated, takes longer, and is less intelligent because you can’t get real information about business problems from people you don’t trust.

So in this fast-paced, high-tech world, we overlook others, but can’t we still get good information from disciplines like EA? While EA is a valuable information resource, EA information products or a repository is not a substitute for relationships, nor can you develop and maintain the EA without solid relationships.

  • “We can be deceived into believing that our world is now too efficient [like through the development and use of EA information and other business intelligence methods and tools ] for relationships, that when every bit of information, and virtually any product or service, can be bought with a click of a mouse, the need for relationships has disappeared. But in fact, it has become even more important.”

How many relationships do we need? While quantity of relationships can be important, it is the quality of those relationships that is even more important. It is the “real relationships” in our lives or those of substance that provide the most satisfaction, value, and meaning to us over the long term. These relationships extend first and foremost to family and friends, but also to professional relationships between talented, dynamic people who can work together to build successful programs, products, and services for organizations and society (and this includes strategic programs like EA).

  • “When working with people and investing in relationships, the value comes not in quantity, but in quality. It doesn’t matter how many people you’ve met in your career or how many Rolodex cards you’ve acquired…what matters is who will be there for you when you really need it…‘networking’ is superficial. ‘Relationships’ are deep.
  • “The trick is to make it personal, to bring your heart into it, while respecting the roles and the rules of business. The goal is not to do business with your friends and it’s not to make friends out of your closest business relationships (though that sometimes happens). It’s to be present, and to bring all the nuance and intensity and affection and power of your personality into your close business relationships.”

Some obvious areas where relationships are critical in building an EA program are as follows:

  • Executive commitment—an EA program needs to have commitment from the highest levels to be successful. That means not only your boss, but also the senior executive team that runs the organization. Developing relationships with senior management that helps to explain the program and gain their commitment is fundamental.
  • The EA team—a good chief enterprise architect carefully chooses his or her EA team. Having experienced, knowledgeable, skilled, talented and enthusiastic people can make all the difference between a vibrant EA program and one that falls flat or fizzles out. Additionally, good synergy between team members helps to build a strong, cohesive program.
  • Subject matter experts—the information in the enterprise architecture cannot be gleaned only from documents and databases. EA is built through the interaction of business and technical subject matter experts throughout the organization, as well as from those outside the organization who can provide best practices. Of course, everyone is busy, but it is through building relationships with others that one can more fully engage them with the EA program.
  • Users—the dot-com adage of “build it and they will come” is way too simplistic for leveraging EA use for a wide variety of users in the organization. The chief architect needs to engage with the end users to, first of all, understand their requirements, but also to develop EA information products and governance services that are truly useful and usable to the end user.

Meaningful relationships, passion for what you do, and the commitment to give it your best, those are the elements of a solid EA program.


December 7, 2007

Boeing and Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture is a combination of developing and using organizational insight and managing sound oversight.

Boeing Company’s recently announced six-month delay of its new 787 Dreamliner jet shows defects in both their EA insight and oversight.

The Wall Street Journal, 7 December 2007 reports that “layers of outsourcing slow 787 production…a look inside the project reveals that the mess stems from one its main selling points to investors—global outsourcing.”

How did global outsourcing reveal the breaks in both effective insight and oversight at Boeing?

  • INSIGHT—EA is the synthesis of business and technology to improve organizational decision-making. EA develops information products, so that the organization has the information it needs to improve mission execution, and so that business is driving technology. In the case of Boeing, they were so focused on getting the technology of the new jet right, that they overlooked the underlying business problems. “It figured the chief risk lay in perfecting a process to build much of the plane from carbon-fiber plastic instead of aluminum. Boeing focused so hard on getting the science right that it didn’t grasp the significance of another big change; the 787 is the first jet in Boeing’s history designed largely by other companies,” and this has been plagued with problems ranging from language barriers to their contractors subcontracting out key tasks, such as engineering. Boeing’s focus on the technology led them to ignore important aspects of the business of designing and producing the new planes. Boeing did not have sufficient insight into the business side (versus the technology) of managing this tremendous endeavor.
  • OVERSIGHT—EA involves IT governance, so that IT investments are made based on sound principles of business alignment, return on investment, risk management, and technical compliance. Generally, the Investment Review Board, the EA Board, and the Program Management Office sees to it that IT projects are reviewed and managed in terms of cost, schedule, and performance parameters. In the case of Boeing, they did not ensure adequate EA oversight for the 787 jet. “Boeing overestimated the ability of suppliers to handle tasks that its own designers and engineers know how to do almost intuitively after decades of building jets. Program managers thought they had adequate oversight of suppliers but learned later that the company was in the dark when it came to many under-the-radar details.” Boeing’s general expertise in project oversight was outsourced along with the engineering and production tasks, and this led to, what an executive of one major supplier has called, chaos.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner may well end up being a true “dreamy” jet plane, but from a User-centric EA perspective, the 787 has been a real nightmare and a example of ineffective EA insight and oversight!