S2E Consulting Inc. Launches Blog StraightTalk Aimed at Business Architecture Community

S2E Transformation formally announced StraightTalk, a professional blog devoted to the advancement of business architecture. Authored by long-time business architecture practitioner, educator, and industry thought leader, Whynde Kuehn, StraightTalk combines the latest discourse on the topic of business architecture, coupled with years of professional experience gained at leading Fortune 500 enterprises.

The blog targets aspiring, new business architects as well as experienced practitioners. For novices, StraightTalk surveys information quickly and logically, with complete and easy-to-understand terminology. Veteran business architects are able to align their knowledge with the latest thinking. Response to the publication has been favorable:

“I pay close attention to communication styles and effectiveness, and [StraightTalk] is outstanding,”— Pete C.

“[StraightTalk] is rich with good information. The segments are short and easy to read. Thank you for the reference documents, where I can continue at my own pace,” — Casey G.

Additional information on StraightTalk is available at bit.ly/about-straight-talk.

Read the full Marketwired press release.

Dansk pressemeddelelse: S2E Transformation lancerer bloggen StraightTalk rettet mod forretningsarkitektur-communitiet


The Artist In You

business architecture blog post
Hey, business architects, you’re the stars of this post. You transform our organizations, make them run better and even design new ones. Here’s to you.

So what does a business architect do anyway?

There are three focus areas of the business architect role in any organization:

  1. Applying business architecture to various scenarios (a.k.a. “architecting”)
  2. Building the business architecture knowledgebase
  3. Creating the business architecture practice infrastructure

A business architect may focus on one, two or all three of these, depending how the role is defined in their organization.

But make no mistake, #1 is the most important thing that business architects do. We actually architect things. And the role has never been more important than it is today because our organizations are constantly changing, especially due to external factors like new customer expectations, the shifting competitive landscape, digital technology and regulation.

But also make no mistake that while #2 and #3 are supporting activities, they are critical to being able to architect with quality, consistency and scale. No #1 without #2 and #3.

P.S. Throwback to Post No. 4 where we discussed that there are always three components to establish business architecture within an organization. Same three as above. Makes sense.

Tell me more about this architecting.

The actual “architecting” that a business architect is responsible for is directly related to how business architecture is intended to be used for a specific organization, just like we talked about in Post No. 2. For example, a business architect might translate strategies (enterprise, business unit, product, digital, etc.) into action or help integrate a newly acquired organization.

Business architects also provide insights and help to facilitate the use of business architecture, such as for project or application portfolio management decision-making.

And one more thing. Scope. Business architects are typically assigned a scope of responsibility for what they architect, which could be for a business unit (vertical), for a set of enterprise capabilities (horizontal) or some other delineation.

Where can I find a job description for a business architect?

While there are lots of descriptions out there, we don’t have an industry standard one to point to just yet. (Keep that in mind as you apply for jobs or hire business architects and remember that we’re talking about a rapidly maturing industry here so there will be inconsistency for a little while.)

But stay tuned. The industry has focused more on defining business architecture and its usage, but we’ll see more of a shift towards the profession and the role over the horizon. In the meantime, know that you can and should adapt the business architect role for your organization. We’ll talk more about this within the context of a business architecture team in the next StraightTalk post.

How do I know if I want to do this or would be any good at it?

Here are juuussstt a few clues to get you started.

You might be an architect if you…

  • Think big picture – Like you love bringing people together to facilitate collaboration and build consensus. You are a bridge builder and a dot connector, across teams and across the strategy execution life cycle. And your brain just can’t stop thinking about things like how an idea or solution that works in one part of the organization could work for another.
  • Are a structured thinker – Like you think logically and apply structure to challenges and opportunities. You categorize and abstract concepts, and things like “information synthesis” and “visualization” sound like fun to you.
  • Care about intentional design – Like you see the value and are passionate about addressing challenges and opportunities architecturally, holistically and collaboratively. And you sort of can’t understand how anyone could not think the same as it makes so much sense in the long term.

What type of experience do I need?

People come to the business architect role from many different perspectives. There’s not just one path to get there and that’s a good thing because it allows the role to be expressed and practiced in different ways. For example, some people worked in a business analyst or an IT role, some were business or IT leaders, or some worked on a complementary team like planning.

What if I’m right out of university or have little professional experience so far?
No problem. There is always a place for you. You will likely work in a role where you are supported by a more experienced business architect. We all have to start somewhere and this is a great place to start your career.

The serious work though, like architecting an enterprise transformation, is typically done by people who are not only highly trained, but also have a wide range of previous professional experience.

Okay, how do I get started then?

We’re here to help. Here’s a handy diagram below that answers just that question, so that you know where to start and what the journey looks like to become a business architect. AND we’ve also compiled a big list of resources (in priority order) to help you learn over time. (See More Good Stuff).


What if I don’t want to become a business architect but am interested in the topic?

No problem! You can leverage your interest in and passion for business architecture in many ways. For example, you could start or manage the business architecture team within your organization (you don’t have to be a business architect). Or, if you work on a complementary team (e.g. strategy, planning, customer experience, business analysis, business process), you could use business architecture and work with business architects. Or, you could simply serve as an advocate for the discipline within your circles.

No matter what you choose to do, you will be our hero.

What about the future?

Once you’ve worked in a business architect role for awhile, it opens up many different opportunities for you. Not only is the business architect role in high demand right now (in many different countries), but your experience will position you well with broad knowledge of your organization, deep relationships and a foundation of structured thinking.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Star in a bigger show – Architect things with increasing complexity and scope (think enterprise-wide or even organizational ecosystem-wide architecting)
  • Star in a different show – Move to a complementary team (e.g. strategy, planning, customer experience) or take on a leadership role in the business or IT
    Take your show on the road – Go start a new business architecture practice in another organization (maybe don’t tell your boss we said that)

No matter what role or level of engagement you choose to pursue related to business architecture, know that you will be making a difference and positioning yourself for a worthy journey and a bright future.

More good stuff…

European Business Architecture Innovation Summit and Business Architecture Transportation Reference Model Workshop

Whynde Kuehn, S2E Transformation Founder, Guild Co-Founder, and BAA Partner along with William Ulrich, President of TSG, Inc., Guild Co-Founder, and BAA Partner co-chaired during the European Business Architecture Innovation Summit and the Business Architecture Transportation Reference Model Workshop. Held in Brussels, Belgium on 6-8 June 2017 and sponsored by the Object Management Group and Business Architecture Guild, the combined three-day event featured business practitioners and experts from around the globe who shared a range of experiences and advanced the discipline of business architecture from a cross-section of industries including financial services, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, retail, and utilities.

On 5 June, as Business Architecture Associates Partners, Kuehn and Ulrich presented a special half-day workshop designed to impart critical skills related to practice setup, value proposition, governance, blueprint creation, and interdisciplinary alignment for practitioners and managers who range in experience from novices to experts.

During the 5-6 June events, the two Guild co-founders co-chaired the Summit with presentations and panels delivered by business architecture practitioners. The emphasis of the two-day event was on how business architecture is leveraged and advanced as a discipline to align organizations’ strategic objectives with executional excellence.

On 8 June, Kuehn and Ulrich co-chaired the Business Architecture Guild transportation reference model workshop, where practitioners across industries, such as airlines, shipping, package delivery, and transit authorities converged to create new industry reference models for the transportation industry with a focus on value streams and a capability map.

We Are Family

Remember way back to StraightTalk Post No. 1 when we talked about what business architecture is and a whole bunch about what it is not? That’s because business architecture has a lot of friends that it needs to work within an organization’s ecosystem.

Okay, what’s this all about?

The bottom line is that to be successful, business architects cannot work as an isolated function. It’s not about creating enterprise maps and expecting magic to happen when people see them. Business architects work within a bigger ecosystem and must always remain cognizant of their role as an enabler of other teams.

Yes, business architecture has value on its own as a common enterprise language and “mental model” for an organization, but its true value is realized when it is used to help other teams be even more effective and successful at what they do.

Tell me more.

By nature, business architecture is about connecting dots. The business architecture knowledgebase has to connect to a lot of different things: strategies, initiatives, customer journeys, and the more detailed aspects of the operating model (think people, process and technology). And business architects very much act as dot connectors as well. (Remember Connect Four? Business architects were really good at that game.)

What sort of dots do business architects connect?

Business architects help to connect:

  • Strategy to execution, by translating business direction into actionable business and IT changes and scoped initiatives
  • Business people to other business people, through knowledge of designs and plans across business units and products
  • Business to IT, by working with IT architects to synch up business strategy and architecture with IT strategy and architecture
  • Everyone to everyone, by facilitating a true common language and way that the organization sees itself

Which teams do business architects work with?

Business architects interact with a common set of teams, which generally fall into two categories.

The first category relates to teams which set business direction and/or run the operations of an organization. This includes teams such as strategy, innovation, product management, customer experience, risk and compliance management, portfolio management and organizational effectiveness.

The second category relates to teams which collaborate with the business architecture team at various points across the strategy execution life cycle to implement business direction together. This includes teams such as planning, program and project management, business analysis, change management, IT architecture (data and application architecture in particular) and business process.

These teams were just fine before you came along. How does business architecture help?

The business direction and operations-related teams leverage the enterprise business architecture framework and expertise of business architects to inform business direction and decisions as well as translate them into concrete changes which need to be made to the business and IT environment.

The execution-related teams exchange various inputs and outputs with the business architecture team and work closely together to define, design, plan, execute and measure the success of business direction. As you know, getting business direction into action across an organization is a team sport, requiring all of these players to work together—and business architecture has been that missing puzzle piece right in the middle, serving as the translator and bridge.

Here’s the part where you get a cool picture. How business architecture interacts with other teams: summarized below. Click image to enlarge.

So, what next then?

Business architecture teams must deliberately integrate with all other related teams. It takes focused effort and partnership to make this happen.

How do we do that, especially if business architecture is a new concept in our organizations?

One step at a time. Like this:

  1. Identify all of the teams that your business architecture team should interact with. Write them down and describe what the interactions are. If you want to be fancy and use industry-speak, you can call it an “engagement model.” (Hint: Use the illustration in this blog post as your checklist to know who to look for. Yay StraightTalk.)
  2. Prioritize the list of teams.
  3. In priority order, start having conversations with each team to discuss the value of business architecture and how you will interact and collaborate.
  4. Over time, your relationship with each team will progress from awareness to partnership (where you work together to leverage business architecture) to full integration (where each of your teams’ procedures and roles reflect the others’).

And what happens if we do all of this?

Business architecture integration nirvana is when business architecture and business architects are fully integrated into the strategy execution life cycle as well as with each related team. With business architecture, teams should be even more successful than they are today and they should all work together seamlessly to move business direction into action from a business-focused, top-down, and enterprise perspective.

When people ask for business architecture, when it is integrated into the very fabric of an organization, when business architecture becomes “just how the organization does business”—you will know that you’ve arrived.

More good stuff…

  • Business Architecture Integration (S2E White Paper): A longer version of this story on how business architecture interacts with other teams and what you need to do to formally integrate with them.
  • Business Architecture Integration Industry References: Here’s your Summer Reading List (or Winter Reading List if you’re south of the equator) on how business architecture integrates with other key teams. A LOT of incredible integration work has been done by the Business Architecture Guild® and the business architecture community as well as other professional associations and their communities. The ground work that has been laid by these people to drive clarity and consensus around the business architecture discipline and its integration points has truly shaped the discipline and paved the way for future practitioners. Check out these Business Architecture Guild® White Papers (and of course the BIZBOK® Guide):
  1. Linking Business Models with Business Architecture to Drive Innovation
  2. Business Architecture and the Customer Experience: A Comprehensive Approach for Turning Customer Needs into Action
  3. Business Architecture and BPM: Differentiation and Reconciliation
  4. Leveraging Business Architecture to Improve Business Requirements Analysis
  5. Business Architecture and Agile Methodologies
  6. Aligning Business Architecture and the Scaled Agile Framework®
    (P.S. Don’t worry, we’ll StraightTalk on every one of these topics over time.)

  • Build a Tower, Build a Team (TED Talk): Lessons on team collaboration from Tom Wuject in this TED Talk. (And if you haven’t done this marshmallow challenge with your team, try it!)