Saturday, May 29, 2010

My current thinking on enterprise architecture 31/5/2010

Focus on strategy, innovation and transformation. Focus on the formulation of business strategy and on the use of innovation and design to bring about effective enterprise transformation.


Success is when there is an impact on strategy at the CEO level. Failure is when there is little or no impact outside IT.


There is growing evidence that "design thinking" has more traction at C-level than EA. Design thinking is also about envisioning a holistic approach to positive business transformation The term “design thinking” is intuitively understood by executives and fits conceptually with strategy, innovation and transformation.


Gartner have an extension of design thinking they call “hybrid thinking”. The extension centres around collaborative innovation and design with a focus on “human-centred experiences” particularly in environments that are highly complex, ambiguous, rapidly-changing or where traditional methods are ineffective. I’m yet to be convinced of the merits of this view but am still open to the idea.


Two genius concepts, “outside-in design” and “middle-out-architecture” are becoming more prevalent in enterprise architecture literature. Both are so self-evident that stakeholders rarely need to be convinced of the merit but conversely, neither are routinely implemented effectively.


Outside-in design is nothing more than designing business services conceptually first and then working out how to implement the design, “service orientation” (in a business sense) is not new but how often do you really see the focus on behaviours (services) and not on the things that generate the  behaviours? How often do you really see the focus on the B2B or B2C relationship and not on the internal structures and systems that enable them? Outside-in design focuses less on the boxes and more on the lines between them.


The dimension that is ignored when the focus is in the wrong place is time or more correctly timing. The importance of human-centred experiences is that timing (and orchestration) requirements are known through scenario planning. Knowing not just what to deliver but when to deliver it is crucial to generating successful business outcomes.


Middle out architecture uses the Identifier, Format, and Protocol (IFaPs) construct. Middle-out architecture focuses on managing the key dependencies among those parts of the enterprise that will have the biggest impact on the ability to change, especially given the diverse rates of change. The classic example of middle out architecture is the shipping container. It doesn’t matter what is being packaged as long as it can be contained in the standard space. It also doesn’t matter what vehicle (train, trick, plane) as long as the vehicle has its interface (the mounting system to hold the container) designed to meet the standard size and fittings.


This example emphasizes that the use of standards must be to enable coordinated interactions and behaviours to change and evolve rather than as a limit on choices. When considering standards ask yourself the questions “will this standard support change and evolution in a behaviour or interaction? What is that behaviour or interaction? How will this standard support its change or evolution?” 


An Introduction To Enterprise Architecture: Second Edition

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