Saturday, November 30, 2013

EA as Innovation Framework

The framework of innovation is to highlight, not to restrict creativity. 

A systematic innovation approach is to depict innovation as a system (rather than a traditional process) whose performance depends on the alignment of its various components (people, actions, controls, resources, etc.), EA as something to describe enterprise, helps to optimize all aspects of the enterprise to increase profitability. All innovations mean change, and it is also obvious that such a change can only be achieved via the corresponding change in EA. So which role can EA play to manage business innovations?

EA as a descriptive innovation management framework, which categorizes all of the tools and data available to the organization. EA is the body of knowledge. It is like an enormous box of Lego bricks. Innovation can then be driven by intelligent and motivated individuals from both IT and the business community seeing how these components can be assembled or utilized in new and hopefully better ways. 

EA has influence power to enable innovation in people's minds.  Innovation requires a few elements under EA's custody or influencing power, which deals with how people must think in order to innovate:
(1) a risk-free environment: so people can be allowed to take risks and make mistakes. (EA should contemplate, consider, project, design and enable this element in every way).
(2) a culture in which divergent forces are imposed on delivery/production ability so to avoid 'compromises' solutions, which kill chances for business innovation
(3) a drive to couple positive human emotions to the whole innovation lifecycle –to transform the novel ideas and achieve its business value.

EA as a culture catalyst and designer: Innovation is more creative and spontaneous and should be encouraged through corporate culture than only through EA influence. EA may be a catalyst towards enabling that cultural change if it does not exist but it should be encouraged through the culture. Innovation does not come from technology or EA itself, but from a risk-free, divergent-thinking culture which - as spontaneous as it may seem - needs breeding. There is a role for architecture in the design of roles, interactions and incentives that align with this culture, and this is a point in which it seems most methodologies are still narrow - they cover continuous improvement and incremental innovation but shy away from disruptive innovation. 

The quality of the EA depends on the quality of the information the enterprise understands of itself. Without any EA, Innovation is stunted by an incomplete understanding of what it is trying to do and what tools it has at its disposal. This then results in different initiatives often re-inventing the wheel, building new databases to store data that is already partially stored somewhere else or replicating functionality that is provided by another application. Advantages by using EA as a framework is that all concerns are visible, the substantiation for colliding concerns is discussed and a compromise will be part of the solution space. In short, all aspects of the business problem are addressed and will be handled, and the holistic thinking and solutions are encouraged to optimize complexity.

EA is for clearing the sky, not for creating fog: It is easy to create the fog, to complicate things, to avoid direct answers to a question, to use terms arbitrarily, to invent absolutely meaningless terms. The real knowledge is not always simple, but it tries to simplify things, not to complicate them. EA needs to become such real knowledge which expresses its clear understanding by clearing ways. Innovation may transform the business and does not always need to involve technology or IT. IT is just another aspect of the business in terms of innovation. EA should be in a position to assess the ramifications behind the transformation, help maximize the potential behind the transformation and ensure the innovation transformation is in alignment with the enterprise's strategic goals/objectives.

EA is a Framework for Enterprise Opportunity Management: Innovation management is more culture and knowledge-management than EA as such, but EA can help in quite a few ways. One is that if it has a structure that describes the enterprise and its interrelationships, EA knows where innovation might be tested out and put to use. If EA maps cross-links to people - such as in communities-of-practice, and social-network maps linked into EA - then also know who. But perhaps the most valuable thing is the recognition that risk and opportunity are essentially the flip-sides of each other: if EA incorporates risk-management (which it should), it implicitly also incorporates opportunity-management. If you make that perspective explicit in EA, it automatically provides stronger support for playing with innovation.

All innovations mean change, and it is also obvious that such a change can only be achieved via the corresponding change in EA. The innovative idea is in the head of an innovator, but having a good means for its realization is a great enabler, EA needs to play as such an enabler.


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