Building your Strategic Think-Tank using Enterprise Architecture
Oct20

Building your Strategic Think-Tank using Enterprise Architecture

IBM Hosted their Middle East CIO Conference on October 15th, 2012 in Dubai themed “Shape the Future of Leadership”.  I was honored with an invitation to present at their conference and share my experience in translating strategy into action using Enterprise Architecture. One of the exciting components of the conference was the CEO study for 2012 conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value.  To make my presentation relevant, I analyzed the CEO study ahead of the conference and linked some of its findings to a planning sample, then showed how architecture blueprints are of strategic value to the organization.  This was demonstrated in the form of building traceability and running impact analysis for corporate changes. At the conference I got the chance to meet and spend time with the director in charge of the CEO study.  He was happy to share the links for the website and study with the society: You can access the CEO Study website here. You can download the full 2012 CEO study here. Download: An excerpt of my presentation at the conference.      ...

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Leveraging Target Operating Model to Define Future Business Blueprint
Oct15

Leveraging Target Operating Model to Define Future Business Blueprint

As I was grooming my business architecture skills several years ago, I realized the importance of the “Target Operating Model” (TOM) when defining the Future Business Blueprint. Occasionally, I come across architects who fail to recognize TOM as the bridge between Business Strategy and Future Business Blueprint. Most of them consider TOM and Future Business Blueprint to be the same thing; they are similar but different. Although Business Strategy communicates “what” the future vision is, it stops short of articulating “how” the future of the organization would look like. To some extent, organizations “translate” Business Strategy into Operational Plan which details the annual activities and initiatives to be executed. But how do organizations “illustrate” the future vision without diving into details? Well, this is where the “Target Operating Model” (TOM) comes in. A Target Operating Model (TOM) is a conceptual representation of an organization’s desired end state that describes the “functional structure” and “working style” required to fulfill the future vision. It illustrates the organization’s vision using a simple model that describes how it plans to deliver services to stakeholders i.e. it shows how an organization creates, markets and delivers value to customers, employees, shareholders and partners. In essence, a simple or basic TOM would consist of vital business functions, key business stakeholders, core business offerings, primary business locations, and key business interactions. Okay, we know what TOM is, but how does it benefit us? Well, TOM finds application is several areas but organizations mainly use it to achieve the following outcomes: Communicate future vision Inform future business blueprints Identify operational gaps Assess impact of changes Determine future capabilities Establish business priorities Market business transformation Inform organization structure design Inform annual operational plans Justify proposed investments Since TOM is shaped by an organization’s vision and mission, it is usually developed during the last phase of the strategic planning process. The responsibility for developing the TOM is usually with the leadership team which depending on circumstance may opt to hire external consultants or engage an in-house team comprising strategists and architects to deliver it. Apparently, the challenge is not in defining the TOM but its actual realization which obviously requires time and patience as it is often constrained by an organization’s capacity, capability and appetite for transitional changes. To support this lengthy process and govern the smooth transformation towards the TOM, guiding principles (strategic and design) should be defined; these principles inform the decision-making process when prioritizing, selecting, funding, aligning, and optimizing transitional changes. Perhaps this is the point where architects lock in and start leveraging TOM to define the future business blueprint (capabilities, processes, functions, services, etc.). So how...

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Key Considerations for an Effective Enterprise Architecture Approach
Oct10

Key Considerations for an Effective Enterprise Architecture Approach

Several years ago while I was explaining the value of EA to an executive, I was asked a thought-provoking question that is still an interesting subject of debate amongst architects. I was asked whether an EA practice should start with the current state and then analyze future state or focus on the future state and then analyze the impact on the current state. He was of the opinion that since his organization already had a target operating model (TOM) and was considering EA as a means for driving the transformation, it would make more sense to focus on elaborating the future-state. This is a key concern for many other organizations that seek to create immediate value out of their EA initiatives. Yes, it is true both of these or combinations of both approaches are valid but what you choose should help you achieve objectives and produce required outcomes. The bottom-line here is that there is never going to be a one-size-fit-all approach as we deal with different circumstances all the time. So what considerations should you give before selecting one of these approaches? In my opinion, some of the factors that should be considered when selecting your approach include the following: Primary goals or purpose for setting up EA practice Clarity of the organization strategy and vision Key organizational challenges to be addressed Nature of initiatives that benefit from EA Organization culture, maturity and readiness Availability of sufficient current-state information Current State First The ability to quickly and effectively structure and document the elusive current state is a key selling point for EA. Organizations face difficulties understanding impact of change to business operations and so it is always advisable to focus initial effort on documenting and communicating the current state.  Whenever changes are proposed, emphasis is placed on performing impact analysis in order to enhance decision-support. Having such a capability is definitely something that every organization craves for and as such most EA adopters welcome the idea primarily because change is inevitable and costly to organizations. However, achieving this level of maturity is only possible if careful consideration is given to documenting important current state areas prone to frequent changes. Likewise, the presence of current state on its own isn’t good enough if proper impact analysis tools are lacking. So if you position your EA practice this way, then starting with current state may be the best approach to consider. Future State First Successful implementation of change must be driven by objectivity which could be lacking if you only rely on the current state. Your organization needs to have a proper vision before initiating value-driven change. If you do...

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5 Balanced Scorecard Implementation Challenges
Oct01

5 Balanced Scorecard Implementation Challenges

As I became a senior consultant several years back, I frequently faced the challenge of helping senior executives translate their Strategy into action.  From the different options Kaplan-Norton’s Balanced Scorecard emerged as the best way to perform the translation.  Even back then it was clear to me that a well developed Balanced Scorecard can provide the bridge from Strategy to Execution.  Since then I have read most of the books written by Kaplan-Norton on the subject: “The Balanced Scorecard”, “Strategy Maps”, “The Strategy Focused Organization”, “The Execution Premium”, and several Harvard Business Review articles and case studies. Armed with knowledge I was eager to implement the BSC on my engagements.  But as it turns out it is easier imagined than done!  One of my first findings is the lack of a clear implementation methodology.  The literature and research gets you in the right frame of mind and gets you thinking, this makes a lot of sense.  But the frustration settles in when you start and you don’t know where to begin. Over time my struggles in helping clients through this process resulted in valuable insights to develop effective Balanced Scorecards.  This blog shares, from a practitioner perspective, the top 5 challenges of implementing Balanced Scorecards and possible remedies. Vague Strategy:  Some strategies tend to be high-level, future looking with ideals and aspirations.  While valid to fuel the soul of the organization, they run the risk of diluting the ability for translation into an effective Balanced Scorecard.  The best remedy for these situations is to revisit and refine the strategy with the owners and get clearer direction on the aspirations of the business. Some of the key components required for an effective translation include financial targets over the medium and long-terms, markets and customer segments, aspirations for brand perception, and customer value. These should be statements of the desired organization’s end state  for the planning horizon (5 or 10 years). Absence of a Common Vocabulary:  It’s common to have different definitions for strategy elements across the organization.  The meaning of Vision, Mission, Objectives, Goals, Tactics, Initiatives, and other elements has to be communicated and agreed upon by stakeholders across the enterprise.  Without the common vocabulary the risks of misalignment across the enterprise are amplified.  The best remedy for this situation is to create the definitions of this common vocabulary, publish it, and remind participants of those definitions at the start of planning meetings. Complicating the initial implementation:  There is a high tendency to get lost in the details and technicalities of the Balanced Scorecard.  The Strategic themes, Strategy Maps, and Cascading to individual level could cause a lot of confusion...

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