Superman Leadership

Superman Socks.jpeg

This guy’s socks were very cool.

If you can say that socks make the man then perhaps this is it.

Superman that is!

No special shirt, underwear, or cape required–the socks communicate it all. 

For the man of steel or one in the making (if worn at workout time).  

Then again, I was trying to imagine someone actually having the guts or nuttiness to wear these to the office.  

If they would, it probably be with the following in mind: 

I can do anything helpful to get the job done–

1) Rolling out cutting-edge systems and business process improvements faster than a speeding bullet

2) Creating positive change more powerful than a locomotive

3) Able to leap with integrity over organizational obstacles, red tape, and naysayers in a single bound

It’s a change consultant. It’s a corner office bureaucrat.  It’s a “superleader!”

Up up and away…it can be done (even without the socks). 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Lessons from GE and Enterprise Architecture

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General Electric (GE) is one of the largest, most successful, and most respected companies in the world. What lessons can we learn from their CIO to more successfully architect and manage our enterprises?

Fortune Magazine, 21 July 2008, reports on an interview with Gary Reiner, the CIO of GE, who has been in his role for a dozen years and oversees a $4 billion IT budget.

Reverse auctions

In purchasing IT, a major corporate expense these days, buying on reverse auction can save your enterprise mega bucks. A reverse auction is one where the purchaser puts out the specs for what they are looking to buy, and sellers bid their lowest price they are willing to sell at. (This is the opposite of a traditional auction where a seller puts out their wares for buyers to bid their highest price they are willing to purchase at). You want to avoid selling on auction at the lowest price (by differentiating you product so it isn’t treated as a commodity), but you want to purchase on reverse auction to get the best price for your purchases. In our organizations, perhaps enterprise architecture can partner with procurement and finance to leverage reverse auctions in planning for and purchasing major IT investments to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) thereby more effectively managing scarce IT resource dollars i.e. getting more modernization/transformation for the IT dollar.

Process Improvement

GE’s CIO is responsible for Six Sigma, driving down deviances and defects in its processes. GE’s CIO says that “Six Sigma is a wonderful tool, but it is [just] a tool. What we are talking about as a company is outcomes, and the two outcomes we really want are product reliability and customer responsiveness…on the responsiveness side, it’s often less about Six Sigma and more about getting the right people in the room to map out [the processes for] how long it takes for us to do something…[and] take out those things in the way of meeting customer needs responsibly.” From an enterprise architecture perspective this is closely aligned to the idea of IT as an enabler for business, but one where business process improvement and reengineering comes first.

Information-based business

GE businesses are information-based. “In every one of our infrastructure businesses, we do something called remote monitoring and diagnostics, where we attach sensors to our equipment. So there are sensors in every locomotive, every gas turbine, every aircraft engine, [and] every turbo compressor. We’ve got software that resides with our customer or in our shops…that analyzes that data and is able in many cases to predict problems before they occur. We can prevent outages from occurring.” This information-based approach is similar to enterprise architecture and IT governance. The enterprise architecture is the information-based planning for the organization’s business and IT. And the IT governance is the information-based management and monitoring for selecting, controlling, and evaluating investments. Together enterprise architecture and IT governance are our “sensors” for predicting/planning the change and preventing problems/ensuring more successful IT project delivery.

Emerging technologies

GE sees a number of emerging technologies as having a major impact in coming years. The first, man-machine interface will evolve from keyboards and mice to “multitouch gestures,” such as “the ability to use your hands directly on screens.” Secondly, organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), “extremely thin screens…so thin that you’ll be bale to roll them up and fold them and carry them…you’ll be carrying around your screen.” And third, is cloud-computing, ‘having all your applications centrally located…[with] almost every document you create is for collaboration” and built on the web. In short, it’s really all about increased mobility of communications and ubiquity of information. Enterprise architecture should help facilitate the adoption of these new technologies.

Innovation

At GE speed to market is critical to bringing new product innovations to market, providing value to customers, and maintain an edge on the competition. IT is an enabler for new product development processes. In enterprise architecture, innovation is critical to breaking old paradigms and thinking out of the box and making real change that has contributes to significant improvements in organizational results. In product development, for example, I believe this involves everything from next generation computer aided design and manufacturing tools (CAD/CAM) to business intelligence systems and fusion engines for analyzing your customers and market changes to advances in automation and robotics for speeding and improving the manufacturing process.

GE is helping lead the way building sound enterprise architectures in corporate America!

>Business Process Management and Enterprise Architecture

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Business process management is part of enterprise architecture. Enterprise architecture is often equated with IT architecture. This is incorrect; they are not the same. IT architecture is focused on IT solutions. Enterprise architecture is broader and encompasses engineering both business and IT sides of the organization.

There are two primary ways that enterprise architecture modernizes and transforms the organization. From the technology side, you can introduce new technologies to enable mission. From the business side, you can reengineer or improve existing business processes.

“Business process management (BPM) is a method of efficiently aligning an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It is a holistic management approach that promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility and integration with technology.” (Wikipedia)

Where does BPM fit in with enterprise architecture?

To answer this we can look at guidance from The Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Particularly Circular A-11 provides guidance on the submission of federal budgets; Part 7 (Planning, Budgeting, Acquisition, and Management of Capital Assets) spells out the requirement that an Exhibit 300 be completed for all major investments.

Aside from extensive questions for justifying your budget in the Exhibit 300, there are what’s commonly called the “Three Pesky Questions.” The 3rd of the three pesky questions is as follows:

  • “Does the investment support work processes that have been simplified or otherwise redesigned to reduce costs, improve effectiveness, and make maximum use of commercial, off-the-shelf technology? If not, management should reengineer business processes first, then search for alternatives, or the agency may issue a very broad statement of the requirements in a solicitation to the private sector and allow the private sector to do the reengineering in proposed solutions. Management should also improve internal process through cutting red tape, empowering employees, revising or pooling existing assets within the agency or with other agencies, redeploying resources, or offering training opportunities.”

What’s key here is the requirements that before planning to acquire capital assets, such as new IT, we first look to reengineer the underlying business processes. Only once we have addressed the BPM, do we look to enable these processes with IT.

How do we reengineer our business processes?

DM Review, 18 April 2008, reports that “BPM includes the modeling, implementation, measurement and monitoring of business processes.”

Here is the way I see it:

  • Three types of models: Business process (or activity) models are the first step, supported by data models and systems models.
  • Decomposition and relationships: In these models, we decompose the business functions, processes, activities, and tasks; identify the relationships to the information required to perform the business processes, and the systems (manual or automated) that serve up the information.
  • Areas for Improvement/Reengineering: Through this decomposition and identification of relationship between business/data/systems, we are able to identify gaps, redundancies, roadblocks, and opportunities in doing our business efficiently and effectively. Once identified, we can then tweak or wholly reengineer the business processes, fill in gaps, eliminate unnecessary redundancies, and so on.

Similar to the OMB Exhibit 300 “Three Pesky Questions,” DM Review reminds us that we cannot just focus on systems to fix what’s wrong in our organizations.

  • “Keep in mind that for almost every process evolution exercise, there will be more than just systems change (IT change) required. Organizational needs and personnel skills must be accounted for. It the organizational dimension is ignored, there will be another story about failure in process management and business change.”

Business Process Management is essential to organizational change management.

  • If a business is to be responsive to change and remain competitive, its ammunition will come from its ability to inspect, analyze and forward-engineer its processes and its business…before its competition!

So whenever you think of enterprise architecture remember business + IT, and the business comes first!

>Customer Experience Management and Enterprise Architecture

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Customer service is so important. We need to architect it in every fiber of the organization. Good customer service is a critical differentiator for organizations and it offers a strategic competitive advantage to those enterprises that embrace it and make it central to their product offering.

DM Review, 25 April 2008, reports that “companies are under unprecedented pressure to optimize the customer experience.”

Customer Experience Management (CEM) is emerging as an increasingly important tool. CEM is the practice of actively listening to customers, analyzing what they are saying to make better business decisions and measuring the impact of those decisions to drive organizational performance and loyalty.”

CEM information should be considered an essential component of the business perspective of the enterprise architecture. CEM should be incorporated into EA planning and governance to accelerate and improve enterprise decision making such as “tailoring products to customer desires to save investment in unwanted innovations.” The overall goal is to provide the customer with world-class service and an overall high satisfaction interaction.

How are organizations achieving CEM?

  1. Chief Customer Officer (CCO)—establishing executive positions that are focused on the customer experience and on earning high marks for customer satisfaction.
  2. Measurement—“putting tools in place that measure the customer experience” and provide feedback to the organization. These tools include customer satisfactions surveys, focus groups, blogs, point-of-sale data/trends, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems that “hold valuable comments from emails, support cases, and online conversations between contact centers and customers.”
  3. Process improvement—using customer feedback and measurement to tune processes, streamline them, and eliminate defects.

Unfortunately, “still at many companies today, the potential of CEM remains untapped.” It behooves the enterprise architects to help drive CEM as a major source of business intelligence and for use in enterprise architecture planning and governance for new investments.

Ultimately, just like the EA end-user is the final arbiter for driving the development of the EA information products (so they are useful and usable), so too the customer is king when it comes to influencing the organizations’ future direction for product, process, technology, and service. If we’re not satisfying our customers, they will find a better supplier to give their business to.

>Port Security and Enterprise Architecture

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[This Blog is based entirely on public information and represents my views alone and not those of the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, or other Federal agency.]

Maritime and port security is critical to this nation, particularly after the events we witnessed on 9-11.

The largest border for the United States is our coastline at 95,000 miles. Moreover, there are approximately 361 major ports (according to the Council on Foreign Relations). Securing the maritime border is the purview of the United States Coat Guard (USCG), for which I have the privilege to work, and securing the ports is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Justice, and state and local law enforcement.

National Defense Magazine, April 2008, reports that “under project SeaHawk [a pilot project], port security officials during the past three years have developed the software, sensors, and communications infrastructure needed to maintain a 24/7 watch on this regional port [Charleston, S.C.]—the sixth largest in the United States.”

From an enterprise architecture perspective, the keys to the success of SeaHawk are business process integration, information sharing and collaboration.

Before SeaHawk it wasn’t uncommon for the different agencies with jurisdiction in the port to duplicate their efforts, said CAPT Michael McAllistar, Coast Guard sector commander and Charleston’s captain of the port. “’My boarding teams would run into Custom’s boarding teams at the bow of a ship.’ Today, boardings are carried out in a more efficient manner that allows the different agencies to make better use of their limited resources.”

The Safe Port Act of 2006 calls “for the creation of similar operational centers at ‘high priority’ ports by October 2009.”

National Defense Magazine identifies the many components comprising the successful architecture for port security:

  • Advance Notice of Arrival— provides the captain of the port the information of ships due to arrive, their cargo, and their people 96 hours in advance.
  • Automated Identification System (AIS)—“is a beacon that transmits the ship’s identity and bearing.”
  • Radar—tracks the ship as it approaches.
  • Law Enforcement Dossier—law enforcementUSCG, CBP, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—compile a dossier that identifies whether any of the crew have criminal records, “whether a ship recently changed ownership or flags, and whether it has been caught with contraband before.”
  • Risk Analysis—vessels of interest are color coded and tracked and decisions are made whether to conduct a boarding by USCG and/or CBP or “dispatch CBP canine units that specialize in either drugs or explosive detection.”
  • Cameras—“as the ship approaches the port, it is captured by long- and medium-range electro-optical and infrared cameras.”
  • Hawkeye System—“combines the data from cameras, radar, and AIS into a common operating picture [COP]. If the ship suddenly veers off course that would raise a red flag.
  • Wall of Knowledge–“like most modern operation centers, all these cameras, sensors, and tracking systems are displayed on a series of monitors spread across a wall”.

According to the article, one of the architectural challenges is standardizing the technologies and business processes for the various ports, given the challenge that “each port is different” in terms of geography and law enforcement risks (for example, some ports, like Charleston, emphasize port security while others, like in Florida, have a higher risk factors for drugs and illegal immigration). SeaHawk has been successful in this standardization with an 85% solution—“the information software portal has already been adopted by the Coast Guard’s captains of the ports.”

In the future, we can all look forward to seeing SeaHawk rolled out to other major ports, enhancing the security of our nation.

>GPS To “Wrongwhere” and Enterprise Architecture

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A good enterprise architecture is measureable in large part by results of operation or outcomes for the end-user such as cost-savings, cost avoidance, or performance improvements.

Well, when it comes to GPS, you’d imagine that the desired outcome would be getting from point A to point B in the quickest, simplest way (a performance improvement from taking a longer route or getting lost altogether).

According to the Wall Street Journal, 18 March 2008, if you follow GPS directions blindly, you may find yourself driving literally off a cliff.

“By blindly following the gadgets’ not-always-reliable directions, they’re [the drivers] are getting lost, hitting dead ends, and even swerving into oncoming traffic.”

With the price for GPS devices coming down to an average of $225 over the 2007 holiday season, there are now an “estimated 49 million navigation devices…in use in the U.S.”

“GPS technology was first designed by the Department of Defense in the early 1970s to improve precision weapon delivery, Today’s commercial devices receive information transmitted from a network of government satellites orbiting the Earth and can pinpoint a user’s location”—sounds like a great architecture plan that commercializes defense technology.!

So what goes wrong with GPS that results in the following types of mishaps:“

  • Truck drivers erroneously sent to residential streets have crashed into fences and damaged walls and trees on narrow roads.”
  • “”After a half-hour of hairpin turns…the road ended at a guardrail and a 200-foot cliff.”
  • “Sent Mr. Wright off the highway and onto a paved road. The road turned first into gravel and then into a dirt trail littered with boulder and covered with overhanging branches…he dutifully followed the direction, which turned into a three-hour detour.”

“Map data companies…have employees in the field recording everything from street names to lane counts and speed limits…they also rely on sources including transportation departments, building associations, and public records. But the information can become outdated quickly as business move or close shop, new roads are built, and old ones are closed for repairs. Sometimes addresses are just wrong.”

“Map data companies say ensuring that information is accurate and up-to-date is a constant battle.” For example, one vendor has “about 5.5 million U.S. streets in its database. About 3 million changes are made to the maps each month.”

Some map data companies are encouraging users to report errors, so they can be corrected faster.

So following GPS directions and getting nowhere or to “wrongwhere” (my term)—is that an enterprise architecture problem?

It sure is. While it’s not a technology problem per se, it is a business process issue. And if the business processes are not in place to ensure current, accurate, and complete mapping information then absolutely, there is an EA problem that needs to be addressed with business process improvement or reengineering. So be careful the next time you take that road trip!

>Lean Six Sigma and Enterprise Architecture

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Enterprise architecture is one way for an organization to drive business process improvement and technology enablement. Another way is through Lean Six Sigma.

Federal Computer Week, 3 March 2008, reports that “DoD rallies around Lean Six Sigma: The methodology has become the Defense Department’s ‘tool of choice’ for business transformation.”

“Lean Six Sigma is simply a process-improvement method for reducing variability and eliminating waste.” With Six Sigma (developed by Motorola), the idea is to make processes efficient and repeatable, so that there are fewer than 3.4 defects per 1 million. The Lean (developed by Toyota) concept refers to “eliminating any steps that don’t add value.”

In Lean Six Sigma, process improvement is enabled through the following steps:

  1. Define—identify problem and measures
  2. Measure—capture data points
  3. Analyze—discover areas for process improvement
  4. Improve—implement process changes
  5. Control—verify and validate that improvement is attained and sustained

In 2000, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England made Lean Six Sigma the foundation for DoD’s continuous process improvement program.

Currently, “about two-thirds of DoD organizations by some estimates are committed to Lean Six Sigma.”

DoD is training their people in Lean Six Sigma and intends to have 5% of its employees attain Green Belt (involves typically a week of training) and 1% reach Black Belt (typically involves approximately two years of training in math and statistics and several years experience working on projects as Green Belts).

However, DoD has been criticized by some for focusing more on the training, than on translating that training into practical on the job know-how to transform the Department.

Yet, by some measures DoD has made improvement. The Army claims to have “completed 770 Lean Six Sigma projects, from which it estimated savings of $1.2 billion in 2007.”

To me it seems like enterprise architects would do well to work in partnership with Lean Six Sigma professionals in order to understand the business processes, improve them, and identify requirements to technology enable those. In User-centric Enterprise Architecture, business drives technology rather than doing technology for technology’s sake. Lean Six Sigma can help business led the way for truly useable and usable technology solutions.