LEGO, an Enterprise Architecture Perspective

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LEGO is a well-known brand around the globe for making creative and innovative toys. It all started in 1930’s when a young Danish carpenter, Ole Kirk Kristiansen,  had a eureka moment of his life and he came with the idea of toys which changed the history of the toy industry. The idea was to empower children to use their creative imagination and build toys by themselves. And from this idea he introduced the concept of using plastic bricks, which can be used to build any structure children want to. The whole idea was based on six simple values:

  1. Imagination
  2. Creativity
  3. Fun
  4. Learning
  5. Care
  6. Quality

The concept of using plastic bricks to create something new every time, unleash the opportunities to create a whole new world. And due to this simple idea, LEGO became one of the world’s top toy company.

The main creativity behind Ole’s invention was reusability of bricks and create new structures  This element of reusability was success due to best quality of plastic bricks created and that’s how any structure built on them stayed glued together.

In Enterprise Architect, artifacts are the bricks of your EA program. These artifacts should be built on the Ole’s six value points and should be reusable over and over again to build the architecture of your business for future sustainability. The main purpose of EA artifacts is to combine them together to create value for the organization, enhance its efficiency, innovate its operations and build creativity in the overall structure of an organization.

Many EA programs have wide range of artifacts delivery on hand but most of the times, they forget the element of reusability of such artifacts. This is a common dilemma for many EA teams and main design problem of the overall EA program. When the artifacts are delivered, organization finds inconsistency between the artifacts, they are not compatible with each other, organization can’t integrate them, can’t make anything new out of them and at the end, these artifacts become shelf product with no tangible value for business. This is how EA programs fail and this is how huge investments goes wasted.

 

What and How reusability of EA Artifacts:

Interfaces, communication infrastructure, and synchronization mechanisms are very typical elements of architectures that are reused when the focus has been on asset reuse. The rationale for architecture reuse follows the typical rationale for asset reuse: e.g. improved quality based on proven performance, improved time to market, reduced development cost or protection of past investments, reduced operational costs, risk reduction, branding, and competence sharing.

The common principal to have a reusable artifact is to create it to enough detailed where the compatibility with other artifacts is clear and self-explanatory. Architects need to set boundaries of each artifact to ensure that essential required information is captured and this also links to sound and well-designed metamodel.

In an organization architectural artifacts revolve around people, process, information and technology. As an architect the most crucial architectural artifacts should be as follow:

  1. Human Assets: organization design and structure should be developed and should be componentized to ensure each business unit has its policies, objectives, HR roles, job descriptions and human capacity are mapped. This form of artifact may quite handy when organization is planning to change the structure of business departments and responsibilities. The customer for this artifact is executive management and facilitates HR department to make appropriate and informed decisions.
  2. Process Assets: business process architecture should be developed to a level where artifacts highlight visibility on business events, process executers, inputs, outputs and map them to business departments which own them. This form of artifact is one the of core for deliverable of EA team and must be used when organization is introducing change on the overall operation. This artifact is only reusable when it is compatible with the organization structure to perform impact analysis of the process change.
  3.  Information Assets: Information architecture should be designed and developed into information component form. Each component must have attributes related to component business nature. Definition of attributes should also relate to business vocabulary and must be usage ready to be plugged in with other architectural artifacts. This form of componentization of information enhances the reusability of organization data elements.
  4. Technology Assets: Technology architecture is the most important building block for EA work. Artifacts in this area needs to be designed by ensuring that organization IT applications and IT infrastructure have maximized usage. Having the artifacts mapped to current and future business objectives, is a good start point to maintain such artifacts. Each technology artifact needs to define how currently its supporting the organization in it’s over all business and what potential is has to be plugin in the future initiatives of the organization.

 

All in all, architects need to have skills and sense of business based on which they can design the artifacts which would create gluing capability same like Lego plastic blocks. The quality , completeness and compatibility of artifacts require architects to have thought full and far sighting ability to imagine the organizational structure which can be created by putting EA artifacts together and enhance organization’s capability to innovate over and over again in the time of need.

Author: Ahsan Rauf

Strategic and solutions-focused Enterprise Architect with a strong history of successfully aligning technology strategy with business needs to support organizational growth and improve business agility. Have hands on experience with business transformation programs in Telecom, Internet Services, Supply chain and logistics, public warehousing, core and retail banking and government services. Skilled at balancing resources in complex technology environments and maintaining cross-disciplinary relationships; diligent and resourceful in uncovering solutions that create immediate impact and sustainable improvements. Effectively communicates technically complex ideas to non-technical audiences. Hands-on leadership experience complemented by strong academic background including Master`s Degree in Management Consultancy

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