Business Architecture Innovation Summit Canada & Government Reference Model Workshop

S2E Managing Director and Business Architecture Guild® Co-founder, Whynde Kuehn and TSG Inc. President and Guild Co-founder, William Ulrich will co-chair the Canadian Business Architecture Innovation Summit on 25-26 September 2018, in Ottawa, Canada. Sponsored by the Business Architecture Guild® and Object Management Group (OMG), the Summit will attract business architecture leaders and practitioners from around the globe, and will feature speakers from a broad cross-section of industries with targeted discussions on Business Architecture and Customer Experience, Business-driven Digital Transformation, and Strategy Definition through Solution Deployment, among other diverse topics. Ms. Kuehn and Mr. Ulrich will co-present a talk during the Summit entitled, “Business Architecture: The Gateway to Transforming Into An Agile Enterprise.” Please view the informational video on the Business Architecture Innovation Summit.

For practitioners new to the discipline, Ms. Kuehn and Mr. Ulrich will lead a complimentary (free to Summit registrants) Business Architecture Primer, sponsored by Business Architecture Associates. The primer will take place on Monday, 24 September, prior to the Summit.

In addition, the Guild and OMG will sponsor a 1-day, post-Summit Business Architecture Government Reference Model Workshop, co-chaired by Kuehn and Ulrich on Thursday, 27 September 2018. The workshop will allow practitioners to engage in hands-on working sessions that contribute to the practice, build attendee skills, and strengthen the business architecture community through peer-to-peer engagement. Read the complete agenda for the Reference Model Workshop.

Business Marketecture — How to Deal With Business Architecture Socialization Challenges

This is our last round in the “How To Deal” series. In this post, we will straight talk on one of everyone’s favorite topics: how to socialize and build buy-in for business architecture within an organization. Yep, we’re talking about business architecture + marketing = business marketecture. And sometimes we need a lot of it.

Is it difficult to socialize business architecture in all organizations – or just ours?

First, we’re going to start with a whole bunch of “you’re not crazy” and “you’re not alone.”

  • If you feel like it’s hard – you’re not alone. While socializing business architecture is getting easier than it was because the discipline has become more ubiquitous, it’s still hard. For everyone. Even business architecture teams with top leadership support still have challenges.
  • If you feel like socializing business architecture takes a lot of time and focus – you’re not missing anything. You are a business architect and a business marketect, especially depending on the role you play within your business architecture practice.
  • If you feel like the concept and value of business architecture is so obvious and you’re not sure why everyone else can’t see it – you’re not crazy. Business architecture is about the big picture and not everyone thinks this way. Consider it one of your gifts.

Why is it so difficult to socialize business architecture?

Here’s some context to keep in mind.

  • Relatively speaking, business architecture is “new” – Though rapidly maturing globally, the formalization of business architecture as a discipline is relatively “new” in comparison to some other disciplines that have existed for decades like business process, business analysis or project management.
  • Business architecture is not “standalone” – Business architecture is intertwined throughout the strategy execution life cycle and plays a role to help other functions and disciplines more effective.
  • Business architecture challenges behavior and norms – At the heart of it, business architecture is about much more than the architecture. It’s about shifting the mindset to enterprise level thinking, cross-business unit collaboration, transparency and a new vision for strategy execution.

How have other organizations been successful at this?

Talk to just about any successful business architecture leader or practitioner and you’ll find there is one common key to success, regardless of geography, industry or location: demonstrate business value. Continually. Your results will define what business architecture is and the value it can provide – more than you could ever describe in words. Focus on the “business” part of “business architecture.”

To expand upon that, here are five tenets of business architecture socialization that will help to guide you.

  1. Demonstrate business value – Don’t sell business architecture.
    There is nothing more important than this one. Don’t talk business models, talk business value. Don’t be disappointed if you put your capability map in front of an executive and they don’t love it like you do. But they will appreciate it when you use it to solve a problem or uncover new insights which they’ve never seen before.
  2. Build the case for business architecture.
    Don’t start by discussing what business architecture can do, first make the case for the challenges or opportunities that need to be addressed – including why they are so important to address now and the implications of not taking action. Then you can talk about how business architecture can be a part of the solution.
  3. Position business architecture within a strategy execution context.
    This conveys many key messages all at once, including establishing enterprise context, communicating the value proposition of business architecture as the (often missing) bridge between strategy and execution, and reinforcing that it is a strategic discipline which precedes projects.
  4. Make your business architecture communications compelling.
    Tell stories, create stunning visuals, make videos, get creative and have fun. In today’s world, we are competing for peoples’ attention and the box and arrow diagrams don’t always do it.
  5. Have patience with the journey.
    This is a marathon, not a sprint. Adopting this approach will put you and your team in the right mindset.

Here’s a version of the Five Tenets for your wall.

Five Tenets of Socializing Business Architecture

What practices work well to socialize business architecture in other organizations?

Business architecture teams have done all sorts of creative things to socialize business architecture such as:

  • Presentations by business architecture leaders, team members and business advocates, shared in person or through a video.
  • Success stories describing how business architecture helped with quotes and measurable results.
  • Business architecture content shared on posters and electronic means in public areas.
  • A dedicated room or area to take people through “wall walks.”
  • Interactive websites or mobile applications to facilitate the understanding and usage of business architecture.

Should we socialize business architecture widely right away?

Some business architecture teams build buy-in quickly and decide to share with executives at the C-level and wider audiences throughout the organizations relatively early in their journey. However, most teams socialize within a smaller sphere of the organization and then socialize more widely once they have proven successes to share and the ability to scale.

Either way, executive business sponsorship and advocacy is absolutely key to long-term success.

The best answer to this one depends on your situation and organizational dynamics.

Who should socialize business architecture within an organization?

The leader of the business architecture team (and their leaders) should play an ongoing role in socialization. Sometimes others on the team may be responsible for socialization, either formally or informally, as part of their role as well. However, every business architect should be comfortable being a business marketect to some extent – with the ability to consistently describe the discipline and its value.

Also, build advocates for business architecture across the organization who can help you tell your story and spread the word.

Anything else?

In your enthusiasm to share business architecture, remember that people are thinking about other stuff. Big picture and long-term thinking may or may not come naturally to them. Even if they believe in the concept, they may have pressure to focus on other priorities. Adoption of the concept might require them to do more work or do things they don’t want to do like be more accountable, transparent or collaborative than they are today. They may not like the fact that they did not introduce the idea first.

The mindset with which you approach business architecture socialization is important. You have to approach it strategically and from the human perspective. It’s not an activity to check off, but rather a human puzzle to be solved.

Closing Thoughts: We are all in this together, and we are forging a new way of thinking and working across the globe. When it gets hard, remember why you signed up for this business architecture journey. Business architects are highly passionate people who believe in change and the art of the possible. Boldly taking this journey promises to make our organizations – and all of us as individuals – better for it.

More Good Stuff…

The Value of Business Architecture (S2E white paper): Just in case you missed it, this white paper provides a good starting point for you to learn about the value of business architecture so that you can come up with your own story.

Conquering the Business Architecture Summit (S2E white paper): In case you need a little reminder, this passion piece shares a vision of what is possible for a business architecture practice and some wisdom on how to get there, using a mountain as a metaphor.

Business Architecture Case Studies (various organization): Learn from all of your friends. There are years of case studies presented by business architecture leaders and practitioners publicly available on the Business Architecture Guild® website on the Public Resources page. Guild members can also watch interviews with business architecture practitioners.

Seth’s Blog (Blog): This blog by Seth Godin is pure gold, providing you with marketing and human wisdom daily. Be sure to check out “You Were Right All Along” blog post for a good reminder about business architecture socialization.

Akimbo (Podcast Series): This podcast series by Seth Godin is more pure gold. Be sure to check out “The Long Term” podcast for more good food for thought about business architecture socialization.

To Create Demand, Follow Five Key Rules, Without Fail (Washington Business Journal): Good advice on how to create demand for anything, including business architecture.

94 Mind-Blowing Strategy Execution Statistics (Boardview): Here are a load of useful statistics that you can use to build your case for business architecture.

How to Get Your Ideas to Spread (TED Talk): There are some great takeaways here for business architecture in this TED Talk by Seth Godin. Make it remarkable.

Institute For Digital Transformation Named Whynde Kuehn Institute Fellow

On August 16, 2018, The Institute for Digital Transformation announced that Whynde Kuehn was named an Institute Fellow. The Institute Fellow program recognizes industry leaders and experts who are at the forefront of guiding organizations to implement effective digital transformation. The Institute — a body of experts, analysts and research professionals — exists to explore the concept of transformation as business and society transitions from Industrial to Digital Era.

Whynde Kuehn, Founder and Managing Director of S2E Transformation, helps clients bridge the gap between strategy and execution, and achieve their highest visions for business transformation in a practical and business-focused way. Whynde has extensive experience in enterprise transformation and planning and was a crucial player in architecting one of the most extensive digital business transformations in the world. She also led one of the most significant business transformation and architecture consulting practices before starting S2E.

We are pleased to have Whynde join the Institute as one of our Fellows and look forward to her unique leadership and collaboration ideas. — Institute for Digital Transformation

Whynde was selected as Institute Fellow, in part, for her outspoken advocacy for using business architecture to enable effective strategy execution and digital transformation. As a long-time business architecture practitioner, educator, author and recognized industry thought leader, Kuehn has expertise in applying the discipline at leading Fortune 500 enterprises and a range of entrepreneurs, nonprofits and social initiatives. She is also Partner at Business Architecture Associates, Senior Consultant for Cutter Consortium and Co-Founder of the Business Architecture Guild.

Power To The People: How to Deal With Business Architecture Resource Challenges

Power to the People
Here we go for another round in the “How To Deal” series. In this post, we will be StraightTalkin’ about how to get creative with some tricky business architecture resource challenges. If you’re working on an established business architecture team, this might be just-in-time advice you need. If you are part of a new business architecture practice, you’ll have these ideas in your back pocket in case you need them in the future.

What common challenges do business architecture teams experience related to resources?

Business architecture understanding and buy-in is probably the number one challenge that teams have today, but as it pertains to resources, some of the top challenges are:

  • Defining the business architect role (and career path) correctly and effectively
  • Designing the most effective organizational structure for the business architecture team and positioning it to succeed
  • Obtaining enough business architecture resources to meet the organization’s needs (and not overworking the team)
  • Finding, training and mentoring resources to become skilled and experienced at a senior business architect level, with the ability to contribute from a strategic and transformational perspective
  • Creating true integration and adoption of the business architect role within the organization

We’ll cover some specific, advanced resource challenges now, but there are loads of answers to other challenges like those stated above in some of our previous StraightTalk posts. Here are a few good ones in case you missed them: No. 6 on the business architect role, No. 7 on building the business architecture team and No. 8 for organizing for success.

Our organization just does not have enough business architects to meet the demand and we will not have the funding to hire new people in the near future. What should we do?

This is a good problem to have. Time to get creative with staffing. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Share business architecture resources – If you have many business architects within your organization, but some are just busier than others at certain times, jump in and help each other. (Don’t let organizational boundaries stop you.) The area that needs help will get it and the business architect who fills in will get new experiences and exposure. Win-win.
  • Borrow other resources from within the organization – Create a program to offer short-term, full-time (or part-time) business architecture opportunities to people in your organization. These opportunities can be valuable to those who are aspiring to the role (e.g. business analysts) or to others who would like the exposure and experience (e.g. a business person who wants to increase their problem-solving skills or a technology person who wants to learn about the business). More win-win.
  • Leverage a business architect intern(s) (paid or unpaid) – This can be a great way to develop others (who could potentially work for you someday) as well as get some extra help. Be realistic about what your intern can do, but they can minimally offload a lot of basic work so that the business architects can focus on higher value activities.
  • Outsource aspects of the business architect role to other people – Make it easy for others to use the business architecture where possible (e.g. for impact assessment or heatmapping). You can provide guidelines and indicate when a business architect should be engaged.
  • Leverage a consultant – Enlist some outside help during surge times. Sometimes this can be easier than hiring a new team member internally, especially if consulting can be obtained from a different budget than headcount.

Check out the handy diagram below to help you identify which staffing option is best for your situation.

S2E Business Architecture Staffing Options

In some cases, we do not have the right people in the business architect role. How do we handle a situation like this?

This happens for various reasons. An organization’s understanding of the business architect role can evolve over time (and the industry itself has evolved), so sometimes the original role definition may have been too low level or incorrectly scoped. Or, perhaps you needed to compromise by putting a great hire into a higher level than they were actually performing at in order to meet their compensation requirements. No worries. It’s a journey, so take comfort knowing that and take the opportunity to course correct now.

The first step is to make sure that your business architect role(s) and any levels within that role are correctly defined. (BTW, see The Business Architecture Team white paper for ideas on role, level and competency definition.)

Next, assess the people you have in the business architect role against the revised role definitions. Remember that if someone does not fit, it’s not a judgment of worth, but rather about the best match for their skills and experience—and they will likely be happier and perform better in a different role anyway.

Then the hard part. Have the tough conversations to transition people out of the business architect role and into a new one, and transition new people into the business architect role where applicable. Communication, honesty and care are extremely important.

Keep in mind that the people who are in the business architect role, how they behave, and what they do will speak volumes to the organization about what a business architect really is (and is not). It may take some time for the full change to be made, but in the end, it will be the best outcome for all of the individuals involved as well as the organization.

We have a business architecture team, but when our organization hires consultants we seem to get undermined. How do we stay engaged?

First, start with education. That includes educating your organization (including the leaders who are bringing in the consultants) as well as the consultants themselves when they arrive. Everyone should understand the role and value of the business architecture team within the organization, what knowledgebase assets can be leveraged (e.g. capability map, value streams and cross-mappings to other domains), and when to engage business architects. Make sure everyone understands the bigger picture here too: leveraging the internal business architecture team not only ensures that knowledge stays within the organization but also saves time and money because the consultants do not need to spend time learning or documenting the current environment.

Next, when your organization creates a Request For Proposal (RFP), include language that the consultant or vendor will be expected to leverage the organization’s existing business architecture where applicable versus using their own frameworks. This is a best practice that a number of organizations have used and it works.

Finally, when the consultants arrive, build a partnership from the beginning and communicate some rules of engagement so that you have something concrete to point to. For example, you could draw some clear lines on what types of content they should leverage from the business architecture team versus create on their own.

These proactive steps will ensure that the business architects keep a seat at the table while ensuring that the organization is best served in the end.

Closing Thoughts: It’s easy (and fun) to get focused on the business architecture itself, but the most important investment is in the people. After all, it is the business architects who will create the value from this discipline and use it to transform organizations. In the wise words of Peter Drucker, “The organization is, above all, social. It is people.”

More Good Stuff…

The Business Architecture Team (S2E white paper): Just in case you missed it, this white paper provides comprehensive guidance and addresses many of the top questions related to establishing a successful business architecture team.
The Pygmalion Effect: Proving Them Right (Farnam Street): One of our favorites. Believe the best in people and they will deliver.
Leading With Inner Agility (McKinsey): Five personal practices that will allow you to meaningfully contribute to the mindset needed during transformative times.
5 Ways to Lead in an Era of Constant Change (TED Talk): A highly relevant TED Talk by Jim Hemerling on the necessary imperatives to put people first in this era of “always-on” transformation.