Sunday, August 16, 2020

Overcome Common Enterprise Architecture Pitfalls

The important thing is not to look at Enterprise Architecture as a project, but rather, a driver of business initiatives with common appeal across the organization. 

The emergent digital era upon us is people-centric and design-driven, businesses will become more interrelated as we move to a world of systems-of-systems or data of data. The inevitable range, breadth, depth, and pace of uncontrollable factors acting on any organization mean constant fine-tuning is essential to long-term business success. 

Forward-thinking organizations are in search of digital business totality, leverage Enterprise Architecture as an effective tool to reimagine the future of business, consider designing the new structural model to embrace “digital new normal,” communicate and facilitate transformative changes. In practice, Enterprise Architecture is a complex discipline with the right mix of art and science, how to overcome common pitfalls, and increasing its practicality and maturity?


Disconnection-Discord-Fragmentation-Gap Generalization: The digital organization has the very nature of nonlinearity, hyper-diversity, information exponentiality, and interdependence, etc, Enterprise Architecture approach based on linear thinking and reductionist logic is outdated, causes silo, fragment, or creates gaps, etc. Either Enterprise Architecture as philosophy or practice, the “ivory tower” approach with linear steps only is no longer fit for the rapidly changing business environment. Because the linear analysis often tries to break down things to the pieces but ignores the interconnectivity between parts and the whole. It perhaps enlarges the gaps and generates fragmentation

An effective architectural framework helps to define a very flexible business blueprint, with the abstract components with loose structures. It is transformational for enterprise architects to “step outside” of the system for having different perspectives, gain an insightful understanding of business context, and take a comprehensive, anticipatory, and modular-design approach to frame a digital business. Loose coupling makes it possible to change components without affecting the entire system, as long as the structure and interface are kept stable.

Complexity-Ignorance-Silo-Ambiguity: In today’s digital world, logic is often nonlinear and multidimensional. The poor architecture design will produce silo, over-complexity, ambiguity, or ignorance, etc. To architect a dynamic digital organization, it is important to do a gap analysis -assessing the current state and future state of the organization, making capability evaluation, articulating the capability gap in the context of future need, capability dependency or business capability reliance on technology capability, investment calculation, etc, in order to orchestrate an “integrated wholes” by fine-tuning business processes & functions, and inter-weaving the underlying business relationships and structures.

Modern Enterprise Architecture should focus on understanding the nature of interconnectivity rather than just on isolated entities. If you still leverage linear thinking to understand the nonlinear digital dynamic, poor design and confusion are inevitable. Enterprise Architects can work closely with the management team to look at complexity from a business impact perspective as well as from a solution perspective, define and develop modular, layered, and industrial components into loosely coupled dynamic business capabilities to enable dynamic strategy management.

Contradiction-Legacy-Misunderstanding-Castle: To succeed in today's digital dynamic in the long term, the most successful organizations have a well-designed Enterprise Architecture framework that helps them clarify the vision and deepen understanding of why they exist, the value they bring to customers and the very reason for changes. But a poorly-designed EA confuses, contradicts, misunderstands, and causes unforgiving damage to the organization’s long term development. 

A well-designed EA framework enforces multidimensional business logic, sets rules, and develops the lego-like module design architecture and capabilities with quality and reusability. An effective Enterprise Architecture as an effective communication and planning tool helps to encompass discovery of concerns/objections/potential points of failure, addressing fears and resistance, communicating a shared vision and compelling reasons for cooperation, and significantly improve the success rate of strategy management.

Indecision-Invalidity-Ineffectiveness: One of the noble goals of Enterprise Architecture is to orchestrate the large scale business transformation. However, many organizations are struggling to walk through the digital labyrinth because they have no common understanding across the board about digitalization regardless of methodology or practices. The poorly designed Enterprise Architecture perhaps misleads business users, leads to decision ineffectiveness, and incompetent management, etc.

The driver for business transformation would differ from organization to organization based on what the specific problem they're trying to solve is as well as which unique strength they decide to build. With an Enterprise Architecture as a guidance tool, you won’t feel panic and you won't rest until you’ve done everything you could do to make your organization resilient, inventive, inspiring, and accountable as it could be, walk through the digital labyrinth confidently.

Politics-Puzzle-Technocentrism: High-mature organizations use Enterprise Architecture as a problem diagnosis tool to avoid ignoring the root cause of problems because they are politically difficult to address. EA as a good communication tool helps the management improve resource management, optimize processes and shorten the business development cycle, and deal with conflicts skillfully. But an ineffective architectural framework increases thinking ceilings, stimulates office politics, puzzling the situation, creating management bottlenecks, enforcing conventional practices, encouraging politics or techno-centrism,

Ideally, the enterprise architecture framework that is created needs to be maintained and used by the managers to adapt and improve the organization in the future by abstracting major concerns, facilitating the strategic goals and objectives of the enterprise, and achieving a situational balanced compromise or a trade-off. Technocentrism narrows EA scope and sometimes clouds the business vision. Technology should be an enabler, not an end in and of itself. There is a co-dependency that should be recognized in a mature, respectful manner, outline how they are able to be handled by the organization in terms of resource allocation such as time, budget, people, etc,

Enterprise Architecture is a management philosophy more than anything else. If senior management holds to a philosophy that planning things is better than reacting to them, they will see the essential benefits of EA. The important thing is not to look at EA as a project, but rather, a driver of business initiatives with common appeal across the organization. It’s important to overcome these common pitfalls, increase holistic business consciousness via multiple perspectives, and interdisciplinary understanding to drive business transformation seamlessly.

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