Thursday, June 11, 2020

An Enterprise Architect’s Digital Mindset

 Pursuing digital organizational maturity is an evolutionary journey, with the phases of blueprinting, designing, and optimizing the business architecture, fine-tuning the key factors of the organizations to achieve business harmony.

Enterprise Architecture /Business Architecture plays a significant role in shaping contemporary enterprises. It is such a discipline to blend art and science, philosophy, and anthropology. It requires multidimensional thinking and multifaceted understanding, to reinvent the business, or come up with new ways to do things, new approaches, and new perspectives. An Architect’s mind can discover solutions to complex problems via the following thought processes:

Analyzing/synthesizing: Enterprise Architects analyze the business to make decisions, create business cases, or feasibility studies, with the goal to optimize business processes, design, and develop business competencies and improve organizational design and maturity. Put simply, the key skills of the enterprise architects are to analyze the business and design changes to make it operate better. Besides analysis, synthesis is also a type of enterprise architect’s mindset for putting things together to imagine “the art of possible,” and make the combination of components or elements to form a connected whole.

The analysis is largely about partitioning, analyzing, creating, or modeling business processes, collecting requirements and drafting processes. The synthesis process should be pulling the analysis process, just as the analysis process is feeding the synthesis process. Rather than considering a single goal, you need to consider a larger system with multiple and conflicting goals. “Synthetic thinking" is the ability to draw on ideas from across disciplines and fields of inquiry to reach a deeper understanding of the world and one's place in it. Enterprise Architects’ mindset with the right mix of analysis and synthesis can integrate perception, knowledge, and imagination into an in-depth understanding of the problem, more future-driven and holistic, in order to figure our premium ways to solve it.

Systematizing/Formalizing: Systems Thinking is a crucial thought process of enterprise architects. At its core, systems thinking is a belief that everything is interconnected and that it is the relationship between things rather than the things themselves that are the primary driver of change. In organic systems like a digital organization, it is argued that the only way to fully understand why a problem or element occurs and persists is to understand the parts in relation to the whole. Systems Theory is at the root of integrations between Systems Thinking and Enterprise Architecture.

EA sits on top of systems thinking but tempered by real-world concerns and priorities. EA is dependent upon Systems Thinking. But EA is much more than systems thinking, it also evolves a formalizing process - first define the “system-of-interest” and the environment, and then, become very clear about the definitions of business, enterprise, and organization; clarify the architectural vocabulary- industry-standard codes, language standards, engineering standards, performance standards, GRC standards, etc; formalize the decision-making processes and status reviews/checkpoints for the important initiatives, and improve the overall organizational maturity.

Optimizing/harmonizing: Every problem is a potential opportunity. Every opportunity is a potential problem. Every problem has multiple solutions. In many traditional organizations, EA is at a lower level of maturity to fumble around many pieces of Big Elephant (enterprise); in people-centric digital organizations, Enterprise Architecture provides a common basis for partitioning the solution space and optimizing better ways to fix problems. It can also help to harmonize organizational processes and speed. EA should train elephant dance (agility), think (information & knowledge management), speak (communication) and guard (governance), etc.

We don't live in a "closed system" but the dynamic digital ecosystem which is complex, interrelated, and interconnected, full of opportunities and risks. To optimize and harmonize and move forward, it’s important for having enterprise architects with a “fitting mindset” working closely with the management team, to be open to diverse viewpoints, neutralize polarization, enforce empathetic communication, and foster cross-functional or cross-regional collaboration. Leverage EA as a useful tool, create a harmonized working environment, make collective decisions, and take a collaborative road to achieve strategic goals and make continuous deliveries.

Business management including contemporary Enterprise Architects with a digital mindset can practice critical thinking and creative thinking, re-imagine the future of the business, address the concerns, handle conflicts, clarify business strategies, and give everyone a voice in how the organization and the people in it can prosper and thrive. Pursuing digital organizational maturity is an evolutionary journey, with the phases of blueprinting, designing, and optimizing the business architecture, fine-tuning the key factors of the organizations to achieve business harmony.


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