Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When EA Blueprint Meets Social Wind


Social architecture refers to the enterprise culture that influences the desired human behaviors within the operating environment of an enterprise. Social architecture is all about “enterprise behavior”, which plays an important role in the ongoing smooth operations, improvement, growth and transformation of an enterprise. The failure or success of a change initiative 

In concept and in practice, "social architecture" represents an interesting challenge because social architecture, in any meaningful sense, is a very limited and dependent subset of Organizational Culture. Specifically, the social architecture of any organization is dependent on the culture of that organization. 

So why should and how to develop a social / knowledge architecture for and within EA?

Architecturally, the set of processes and products / services (in a particular segment / industry) need to be identified and structured (hopefully no gaps), so these can be managed (designed, developed, tested, used and improved). It builds both knowledge and experience which can then be shared. So, teams deliver capabilities and processes,  provide specific information about the work behind the capabilities.

Enterprise social platform enables social architecture, need be purpose driven, compared to personal social connection based on interest or hobby, every business has clear purpose & mission, thus, the true social organizations need unite talent via such purpose, otherwise, being social too casually may just turn to be a distraction or decrease productivity. 

1. Social Architecture Enforces EA Communication

The successful development of enterprise architectures and implementation of
the business improvements or business transformation are highly reliant on the
successful engagement of stakeholders in the development and implementation
of the implicit change agenda, social enforces within and cross-team communication.

a) EA team interactions
b) Enterprise interactions with EA team and with each other
c) Enterprise interactions with external parties - suppliers, customers, regulators, competitors
d) Engaging with stakeholders
e) Communicating the EA journey
f) Communicating the emerging picture / model of the enterprise, as is and as intended
g) Reconciling the differences in people's mental models of the enterprise and its current reflection in the shared models being developed

Social keeps you update:
*how do we know what is going on?
* How do we understand what is going on?
* How do we act upon what is going on?
* How do we remember things?
* How do we communicate things?
* How do we learn from experience?

2. A social/knowledge architecture facilitates the collaboration

The three areas "operate (deliver); improve (innovation); and manage" cover all of the key activities used within the organization. The management of the activities and processes (descriptions) is about managing, communicating and improving the way the organization works. (process ownership, management and improvement).

So an interesting question related to capabilities (and social and knowledge) is how capabilities are identified, created, improved (adapted), and released ... what are the capabilities to do this, who does this... and where are they in the organization and how well do these work. These capabilities are fundamental and represent critical activities (work) that must be done well and be visible in an architecture. 

  • Social architecture matters a lot, not only for EA team, but for business as a whole --How to become more open, agile, and resilient, how to enforce cross-functional collaboration, iterative communication and embrace customer, partners into conversation & co-creation, the goal is about sharing, collaborating, orchestrating and integration. EA teams may also be at the right position to prototype, model the change in organizational structure design, culture shaping, governance enforcement and well-bridging strategy & execution.

  • The capability to see the whole is the foundation of enterprise architecture Wisdom comes from seeing the whole where the whole is greater than the sum of parts..  However, in an organization, most people can only touch the tree without seeing the forest. And it is also a human nature to think the parts they have touched is whole.. EA is a discipline to visualize the whole of enterprise for every one to comprehend, and social architecture will further clear such vision.

3. Knowledge Management

EA is the enterprise knowledge management to preserve institutional knowledge rather than a generic knowledge management. EA empowers an organization with the wisdom of seeing the whole, the power of knowledge and think about how knowledge and understanding are structured, decomposed into parts, and how these parts distributed and connected. 

  • Data vs. Information vs. Knowledge: For the purposes of Enterprise Architecture there is a compelling need to differentiate between Data, Information, and Knowledge in a practical, not philosophical, sense. 
--"Knowledge - Information that is internalized and whose meaning is understood by the person consuming the information"
--"knowledge of one may become the information of another"
--"Knowledge requires the comprehension and understanding of the information you are given"
--"Knowledge goes further than what being described, in … dealing with tacit, implicit and explicit".

  • Creating and sharing knowledge is a social process. A social architecture provides the framework for social processes required to achieve shared knowledge. Knowledge is power; knowledge underpins collective human capabilities, and business capabilities underpin business strategy and performance. EA should not only enable every one to see the whole but also enable every one to know the parts via enterprise knowledge management. EA is an enterprise knowledge management effort to preserve the institutional knowledge which changes continuously; and such knowledge life cycle is shortened at digital era, Enterprise Architects are probably more valuable as an enterprise knowledge manager than designing a frozen blue print in some cases.

  • Knowledge Management Maturity Model: is to help organizations determine current and future state for Knowledge Management (KM) within their organization and then develop a roadmap for change. The model assesses the organization’s performance with regard to: content management (unstructured); data management (structured); knowledge (sharing of ideas and learning organizational development); culture and governance. The stage of an existing maturity model is to create a link between the knowledge management program and the organization’s business driver. 
When EA blueprint meets social wind, there could be sunshine in the east and rain in the west, people may get what they need, reap what you sow, and reach higher level of organizational maturity.


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