Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Value of Business Principles from EA Lenses

The Principles need to be deeply embedded into the fabric of corporate culture. 

Corporate principles are time and change tolerant statements about how an organization will behave. Corporate principles, or core decision values, are not benefits, but statements of beliefs; the statements that define the rationale, not as benefits, but as guiding principles in one's actions. 

Architecture principles represent governing rules or laws the organization should comply with to ensure the integrity of the architecture office and the architecture itself. Without architecture principles, architecture becomes extremely difficult as a result in individual or group interpretations. Whatever is not explicitly defined will be open for interpretation or misinterpretation.

Corporate Principles are your core beliefs, and values that you use to make decisions. They are the behavioral "why" in any decision. Principles do not vary based on the scope of the decision being made - any decision. You may have different priorities behind which principle is #1 to a given decision, but be it a project, or hiring or locating a building, principles are invariant - unless you or your organization is schizophrenic. What should be worried about principles is the huge gap between what people say (here are our principles, principles are very important) and what people actually do.

Architecture principles are rules for architecture governance. It does not duplicate, replace, contradict or invalidate corporate governance or IT governance for that matter. Architecture principles are about architecture governance, it is about governing the architecture effort. 

Principles that are not just known and understood, but deeply embedded into the fabric of an organizational culture are incredibly valuable - be they about 'architecture', customer service, expected behaviors or whatever. Principles need to be well formed - not just a statement. Guiding principles are central in an EA initiative - if the stakeholders can't agree at a principle level then navigating toward a desired state is going to be difficult. And if only do one piece of work relative to enterprise architecture, it would be getting principles in place in a fashion that can be consistently applied to every decision. Such one thing alone does more to enable change than any amount of models, technology, projects, etc. The form of principle may include:
Identifier
Statement
Rationale
Implications
Alternate Principle
Related Principle

To really add value, principles need to be grounded in the context of the organization expressing them. What does the principle mean in concrete terms to the organization? How much do you live up to it? Change is not effectively performed with technology, or process, or coercion, but done through modification of behavior, and behavior is defined and guided by principles. Few organizations have a well defined set of their beliefs, and even of those that do, few have a structure for prioritization and application of principles in a unified fashion to the entire enterprise.
Rationale: Why shall you hold this principle? How does it fit with the mission and objectives?
Implications: If you were to truly live up to this principle then who and what would need to change?

Principles are very important, if they are spoken in a language that can be understood by both the business and the techies. The very principle is now understood by all, documented, and passed on to IT solutions and operations within the business. A set of activities involving Business Impact Analysis, solution architecture, projects, and operational plans will follow. Of course People, processes, and technology are all part of this. As an EA, you own none of the content of the architecture - but are only the steward of that information. The people responsible for each element own it - The only thing you truly control, is bringing the guidance and insight of a cohesive and comprehensive view of all enterprise contributing factors to any decision, and ensuring that the prioritized values are appropriately applied to any decision. 

Corporate principles are ways of organizing business interactions with the world and, as such, you always have principles whether explicit or not. The alternative is randomness and that does not work. The well crafted set of principles will directly make impact on human behaviors, change management or project management effort, 70%+ of enterprise architecture's derived benefit is contained within principles; the core decision values that guide all decisions within an enterprise.






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