Please find my presentation about Digital Transformation and Interweaving, held 5 dec at BrightTALK. The slide deck contains a few slides that were not presented due to time.
If you get some time over you should, from time to time, stop and reflect on the material / artifacts you use in your work. Reflection is especially valuable on material / artifacts that experts, consultants and other service providers provide you with.
Here is a simple quiz to guide your reflection:
Something interesting happened when I shared the capability secret with colleagues, professionals, and researchers. A “yes…, but …” dialog appeared.
This kind of dialog and reactions, can important for you to be aware of when something new and simple is introduced and discussed. Especially if you use ideas and methods provided by others, such as experts and consultants.
The series is for you that use capability models, and not for method or framework builders.
… is the title of a series of articles that expose a secret behind capability based analysis, capability system thinking and capability management.
The series is for you that use capability models, and not for method or framework builders.
It is a secret that can, and often do, make thinking about capabilities go wrong and frameworks to deliver poor decision making material.
It is a secret that turns attention and efforts away from real business and organisational topics.
The secret is easy to spot and easy to understand. It is an insight based on practical work and research. Although confirmation bias and sunk costs may prevent the insight to take effect.
It was a fun idea to write this article a couple of years ago. But, then the realities of the thought started to become problematic. After a while the reported EA problems with generating business outcomes became tedious to listen to and trying react to. So I decided to move on, with a new product development and a Pivot, the Interweaving practice. But, here is a short version of the article.
Why a Borg analogy? Why reflect on ones own profession using fictional, fun and not so serious glasses? Can an analogy give some insights that are valuable to product development? The answer to the last question is Yes.
The Enterprise Architecture (EA) practice(s) has been going through great turmoil the last 10 year or so. EA works well inside IS/IT and engineering but experience significant problems when trying to escape its IS/IT roots and tradition. Initial customer interests are reported to be turned into rejection and then EA efforts are moved back into IS/IT again.
For those of you that haven’t encountered the Borgs, they are a formidable alien race encountered in the Star Trek TV and Movies series a while ago. They come from technological and cybernetic origins and they traverse the universe to assimilate encountered races, their technology and knowledge. A Borg credo is “Resistance is futile” and their ultimate goal is to "achieving perfection”.
When looking at recent trends in EA / BA methods and frameworks one can easily observe the vast number of assimilated knowledge and know-how. Here we find…
Interweaving enrich a Design Journey or Process by adding an Interweaving step to address…
“164 executives at companies with more than $1 billion in revenue, 26%, told us the transition from innovation or R&D group to the business unit “needs serious work” at their company. Another 16% described it as ‘terrible’,” [Harvard Business Review]
“A full 81% of those surveyed say that fewer than 25% of their startup pilots have resulted in commercial deals.” [Fortune]
In the previous Meaningful … article about Business Capabilities I covered 2 meaningful topics.
In this article I bring to the surface the question of what kind of capability you really want to include in a capability model or map?
Do yo want to be capable of ..
What is more meaningful to you and in work you do, with others across boundaries? A seemingly simple question. A question that deserves some thoughts.
In this short article I focus on the tool of Business Capabilities. A new idea served hot to executives and management by consultants and analysts.
Let us examine two meaningful questions:
It was with great interest that I opened the Open Group’s guide for Business Capabilities. This business architecture addendum is a welcome addition to their (information) technology oriented Enterprise Architecture framework - TOGAF. TOGAF is a well known, respected, and widely used framework with quite many practitioners.
Half-way through the guide something started to bother me. Something felt very familiar. Then I realised that the guide follows the tradition of framework presentations. A framework is explained first, then the benefits of using the it, are assumed to be obvious and clear.
This article is aimed at people interested in getting some ideas on how to enrich capability based analysis and modelling based on frameworks such as TOGAF.
A Talking Point Canvas is 1-page communication tool that has talking points for communication. The canvas organise talking points in illustrations, diagrams or boxes and they fit on an A5 to A2 paper, Powerpoint page, or a web page.
The purpose is typically to organise and focus communications, discussions and deliberations on a particular topic consisting of several talking points and dimensions.
An example, a SWOT canvas has the result of an assessment with results organised in two dimensions: internal-external, and evaluative better-worse. The 4 talking points are Strength (internal, better), Weakness (internal, worse), Opportunity (external, better), Threat (external, worse).
In many cases a talking point canvas presents a synthesis where assumptions, facts, hypothesis, decisions, vantage points, background analysis, details and dependencies are omitted for clarity and focus.
However, there exist a danger when discussing talking points in separation, without taking into consideration what is behind the surface and how the different talking points relate.
The question wether a company is or should be driven by Inside-Out and/or Outside-In thinking is highly relevant to ask.
A strategic approach based on an Inside-Out vantage point is guided by that the inner strengths and capabilities of the organisation will make the organisation successful. An Outside-In approach is guided by external and environmental forces, and that customer value creation, customer orientation and customer experiences are key to success. In the post “Outside-In: Customer Experience Optimizer?”, Dr. Samir Asaf argues that High Performance Organizations need to think both from an inside-out and outside-in vantage points. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/outside-in-customer-experience-optimizer-dr-samir-asaf-cdir-fiod
However, one can ask if there are more vantage points to explore with respect to a company and its strategy? And how long it takes before you fall off a strategy canvas or strategic thinking model?
The short answers are yes and sometimes quickly.
Another innocent question with far reaching consequences.
As I pointed out in the previous article, a capability depends on an underlying concept. Untangling: What comes first, economical concept or capability? But are there more to consider when looking at the world through capability lenses?
Yes, there are plentiful more to be aware of. The capability literature and methods are full of additional aspects. One may wonder if capability has become a wish list for missing strategical and operational talking points? The presence of these embedded aspects may, to a degree, explain why there are many variants of capability based analysis’s and planning methods. Some aspects are explicitly described, but many are tacit or implicit.
In this article Im taking at look at how capabilities also reflect different Units.
An innocent looking question with far reaching consequences.
The question comprises two parts. ‘What comes first’ brings up what is most important (salient) to people in work they do with others in an organisation. The second part brings up the relationship and dependency between an economical concept and a capability.
The answer is that economical concepts come first and are primary for people in-front of the model theoretical curtain. Without knowing what Customer Retention is and that it is important, a retain customer capability cannot be described. Keep reading to find out why.
This is the 2nd article of two and continues with the outline of the most important aspects to keep in mind while reading and untangling.
The 1st part of this article: Untangling Capability, Process, and Service (1)- How to?
Bridging the gap
I am using the technique of stripping to ‘undress’ specific definitions, frameworks, theories, and approaches of their non-essential parts to find the minimal definition. By remembering what have been removed we can later use this knowledge in analysis, comparisons, and (re-)creation of specific theories, approaches, and practices.
The parts that are removed, form an important knowledge base that can be used for intentional design of theories and approaches. Theory builders can use this knowledge base to better understand their own work and maybe unveil their own tacit and implicit assumptions.
An untangling exercise benefits from being well though-out and structured. This article outline the most important aspects to keep in mind while reading.
The starting point for the untangling series: The wonderfully convoluted worlds of Capabilities, Processes and Services
Btw: these articles aimed at experts, working behind the curtain. If you don't mind a mental exercise, then please continue with the article(s).
If you are looking for “simplicity” then I suggest to skip to the end of the series where I present a fusion of the essences of “capability”, “process”, and “service”.
Human centric, work oriented, and instrumental
At the center of untangling three principles are important. The approach I’m take is human centric, work oriented, and instrumental. These principles offer a focus on what is most important (salient). They provide advice on how the evaluate performance (how well). The instrumental and enabling use of capability, process, and service ideas and analysis techniques must be worthwhile to people in work they do with others. The focus is firmly set on generating benefits for people, their work, problems and questions, and not on technical qualities of work products or techniques. Qualities such as workable, beneficial, material, acceptable, and agreeable take precedence over product qualities.
In the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Build a Strategic Narrative”, Mark Bonchek inspired me to share how stories are fused into the practice of Interweaving. What caught my eye was he’s recognition of the connection between a good story and a company’s strategy.
Interweaving embrace storytelling because it is a human centric and work oriented practice. I have touched the subject earlier and here I add another piece.
The new piece of Interweaving is that documention of structured knowledge and (point-of-)views, such as a strategy, business model or safety model, are accompanied by 3 kinds of stories (work to be done, narrative, logic).
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”, by Confucius.
A recent flurry of articles and posts reminded me of how complicated simple ideas can be. This simple quote captures the state of the beautifully convoluted worlds of capability, process and service based analysis and planning.
On the other hand, It is not surprising that these discussions consume a large bandwidth since organisations, strategies, and businesses have existed long before ideas such as capability become fashionable. ‘New kids on the block’ are the talk of the town until people can understand, accept and work with them.
It is easy to find discussions that go around and around and around with no end in sight. People argue for their ways of thinking and doing that fit their practice. The nature of discussions is often advocacy (to influence) and not inquiry (to understand). In many cases, experts claim their ways and practices are the right ways and the others are wrong and don’t understand. Not very inspirational, motivational or productive! Many of the convoluted debates seem to be persistent in the fields of business architecture, enterprise (IS/IT) architecture, service architecture, and information modelling.
In a series of articles, I intend to look behind the discussions and explore what is similar and different regarding the ideas of capability, process, and service. The approach I’m taking is human centric, work oriented, and instrumental. A use of capability, process, and service ideas and analysis techniques must be worthwhile to people in work they do with others.
I’m not going to fall into the trap of claiming others are wrong. I’m not going propose a new specific approach that competes with everyone else's. Instead, I’m aiming at providing you with insights and reasoning tools so you can create your own approach or practice, or evaluate and adapt others.
The idea of Space occupy a centre place in building architecture and other disciplines that work with larger structures that inhabits people. While it may seem, on the surface, that building architects primarily shape physical walls and produce blueprints, they are deeply concerned with defining Spaces, and spaces between Spaces.
Spaces are not only important for buildings and ships, they are also highly relevant to organisations, communities, cyber-technical things, enterprises, theories of the firm, and other Unit-of-Interests.
The Interweaving practice and the Framework for Interweaving and Architecting (FIA) is the first practice and framework to recognise, accept, and incorporate Space as a fundamental aspect also for organisations, communities, and other artifacts.
The idea of Space is a fundamental part of the Forms Language. Introducing the Forms Language.
In the Space - At A Glance article the idea of Space is introduced, examplified, and charaterised.
In many peoples eyes the main focus and deliverables of architecting are blueprints, or specifications. A focus on blueprints can be found in Enterprise Architecture and Business Architecture disciplines, practices, or frameworks, where architects deliver blueprints as result of an activity. It is often recommended to store and maintain the blueprint in repository as a single source of truth.
An example from the IIBA V3 BABOK “A guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge” and the The Business Architecture Perspective chapter.
“Business architecture models the enterprise in order to show how strategic concerns of key stakeholders are met and to support to support ongoing business transformation efforts. Business architecture provides architectural descriptions and views, referred to as blueprints, to provide a common understanding of the organization for the purpose of aligning strategic objectives with tactical demands.” … “Business architecture provides a blueprint that management can use to plan and execute strategies from both information technology (IT) and non-IT perspectives.”
However, this is only a part of what is created and maintained during Interweaving and Architecting.
The Interweaving practice and the “Work Oriented and Interweaving approach to Architecting” embrace a shift from a focus on blueprints towards production of knowledge, specifically the knowledge that is the most important to people (salient).
At the start of an Interweaving project, an initial frame and scope must be created, based on informed and practical reasoning, as well as on cost, time, quality, and other constraints. During a project, as more knowledge is acquired, the frame should be revisited to right-size the effort and expected benefits.
There are many ways to frame what is worked with and on. One way is to follow a dictionary definition or an organisational single source of truth. Other ways involve being informed at physical things such as building or a car, or starting from theories such as Theory of the Firm or Systems Thinking, or be compliant with legal definitions such as Enterprise or Undertaking.
In the article Introduction to What are we Interweaving or Architecting?, we have collected various types of Objects of Interweaving or Architecting.
The Work Oriented and Interweaving Approach to Architecting advocates a pragmatic approach. It uses a neutral name, Unit of Interest, to indicate what is of interest. There are several reasons for not directly using a term such as Enterprise, Business, Solution, or Building.
The Interweaving and Architecting practices are human centred and work oriented approaches that aim to empower people with powerful means, means that realise worthwhile benefits and contribute to the desired state of affairs over the life cycle up to horizon. In this approach, qualities such understandable, workable, acceptable, agreeable, beneficial, and material are as important as theoretical concerns.