>Myers-Briggs and Enterprise Architecture

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality questionnaire designed to identify certain psychological differences according to the typological theories of Carl Gustav Jung as published in his 1921 book Psychological Types (English edition, 1923).The original developers of the indicator were Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. (Wikipedia)

The MBTI indicates 16 personality types among people. MBTI helps explain why different types of people are interested in different things, are good at different things, excel in cetain types of jobs, and find it difficult to understand and get along with others.

In MBTI, there are 4 performances or pairs of opposing tendencies that people are ranked on:

  1. Introversion or Extroversion—whether the person directs and receives energy from inside themselves or from the outside world.
  2. Sensing or iNtuition—whether the person performs information gathering through their 5 senses or through their 6th sense, intuition.
  3. Thinking or Feeling—whether the person conducts decision-making through logical analysis or through a value-oriened, subjective basis.
  4. Judging or Perceiving—whether the person lifestyle is driven to come to closure and act on decisions or remain open and adapt to new information.

In the book, The Character of Organizations by William Bridges, the author extends the use of MBTI from individuals to organizations.

“Everyone knows that organizations differ in their size, structure, and purpose, but they also differ in character…the personality of the individual organization.” Knowing an organization’s character “enables us to understand why organizations act as they do and why they are so very hard to change in any fundamental way.”

Applying the Myers-Briggs 4 pairs of preferences to organizations looks like this:

  1. Introversion or Extroversion—“Is the organization primarily outwardly oriented toward markets, competition, and regulations or is it inwardly oriented toward its own technology, its leaders’ dreams, or its own culture.”
  2. Sensing or iNtuition—“Is the organization primarily focused on the present, the details, and the actuality of situations or on the future, the big picture, and the possibilities inherent.”
  3. Thinking or Feeling—“Decision making happens on the basis of principles like consistency, competence, and efficiency or through a personal process that depends on values like individuality, the common good, or creativity.”
  4. Judging or Perceiving—“Prefer to reach firm decision, define things clearly, and get closure on issues or always seeking more input, preferring to leave things loose, or opting to keep their choices open.”

Where does an organization’s character come from?

  1. Its founder
  2. Influence of business (especially a particular industry)
  3. Employee groups
  4. Subsequent leaders (especially it’s current leader)
  5. Its history and traditions

“An organization’s character is certainly going to change over the years. And with all the variables at work, you can see that the changes are going to be somewhat unpredictable…the important point is that at any given time, an organization will have a particular character, which will to a large extent shape its destiny.”

From a User-centric EA perspective, the character of the organization can have a citical impact on the work of its EA practioners. Here are some examples:

  • The target architecture—the EA practioner needs to tailor the target architecture to the character of the organization. For example, an introverted organization may be more intent on developing proprietary technology solutions or customizing software to its own ends than an extroverted organization which may be more inclined to out of the box, commercial-off-the-shelf software solutions.
  • IT governance—the EA practioner may need to handle IT governance differently if the organization is a judging or perceiving one. For example, if the organization is more judging, the IT Investment Review Board and EA Review Board may be able to come to decisions on new IT investments and their alignment with the organization’s EA more quickly than a perceiving organization, which may be reluctant to make firm decisions on new IT investments or may require additional information and details or require exhaustive analysis of alternatives.
  • Change management—the EA practioner may need to handle various levels of resistance to change and manage it accordingly based on whether an organization is more sensing or intuitive. For example, if the organization is more sensing, focused on the present and the details of it, then the enterprise may not be as receptive to change as an organization that is more perceiving, big picture, strategic, and future-oriented.

Just as an understanding of your own and others personality helps guide self-development, life decisions, and social interactions, so too knowing an organization’s character can provide the EA practioner critical information to help develop a realistic architecture for the enterprise, provide useful IT governance for investment management decisions, and influence interactions for effectively managing organizational change.

>Use Cases and Enterprise Architecture

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User-centric EA fulfills many different needs (as portrayed through Use Cases) in the enterprise.

In the Journal of Enterprise Architecture (JEA), August 2007, the authors of the article “Analysis and Application Scenarios of Enterprise Architecture: An Exploratory Study” (Winters, Bucher, Fischer, and Kurpjuweit) provide a variety of these “application scenarios” for EA.

Use Cases can help us understand the importance and benefits of Enterprise Architecture by showing its application to real-world scenarios. Below is a list of key use cases for EA (adapted from JEA):

  1. Adoption of Commercial and Government Off-The-Shelf Software (COTS/GOTS)—informs on enterprise IT products and technical standards for integration, interoperability, and standardization.
  2. Business Continuity Planning—identifying the dependencies between business processes, application systems, and IT infrastructure for continuity of operations.
  3. Business Process Optimization—reengineering or improving business processes based on modeling of the business processes, the information required to perform those, and the technology solutions to support those.
  4. Compliance Management—helps verify compliance with legal requirements such as privacy, FOIA, Section 508, records management, FISMA, and so on.
  5. Investment Management—supports Investment Review Board; determines business and technical alignment and architecture assessment of new IT investments.
  6. IT Business Alignment—aligning IT with “business, strategies, goals, and needs.”
  7. IT Consolidation—“reveals costly multi-platform strategies and wasted IT resources originating from personal preferences of certain IT stakeholders and/or a lack of enterprise-wide coordination.”
  8. IT Planning—develops target architecture and transition plan; develops or supports IT strategic plan and tactical plans.
  9. Performance Management—Management of IT Operations Costs through the development of IT performance measures to manage IT resources.
  10. Portfolio Management—categorizes IT investments into portfolios and prioritizes those based on strategic alignment to the target architecture and transition plan.
  11. Post Merger and Acquisition Integration—identifies gaps, redundancies, and opportunities in business processes, organizational structures, applications systems, and information technologies.
  12. Procurement Management—aids sourcing decisions; specifies standards, provides reviews of new IT investments.
  13. Project (Initialization) Management—specifies projects requirements, looks at the potential for existing systems to meet user needs, and avoids redundant development activities.
  14. Quality Management—document business processes, information requirements, and supporting IT; helps ensure performance.
  15. Risk Management—managing technology risks; understanding which technology platforms support which business processes.
  16. Security Management—documenting business and IT security and defining user roles and access rights.

When done right, EA helps to create “order out of chaos” for the execution of business and IT in the organization.

>Five Pitfalls of Enterprise Architecture Review Boards

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EA Review Boards are necessary for supporting sound technology investment management decisions (a.k.a. CPIC or capital planning and investment control).

However, the EA Review Boards often fail for the following reasons:

  • The board has no power to enforce its decisions — this typically happens when the CIO does not control the IT funding in the organization.
  • The board has no visibility to the IT projects being initiated across the enterprise — again, this is common when the CIO does not control IT spending and programs can fund their own IT pet projects.
  • The board meetings are not well organized —this can happen when meetings are sporadic instead of regular, when meetings run over their scheduled times, when agendas are not followed, minutes not kept, and members are not given ample opportunity to participate and “be heard” in the meetings.
  • The board members do not understand the “what’s in it for me” — the members on the review board feel that they already have “day jobs” and that participating on the EA review board is not their responsibility or is not relevant to what they do day-to-day.
  • Board members lose interest over time — a pretty common symptom of this is when the members start “delegating” attendance and participation to less senior members of the organization (and those people may not have the same level of subject matter expertise or decision authority as the “official” members).

In User-centric EA, the focus of the EA reviews is on the stakeholders presenting their projects, on the members contributing to the reviews, and on both of these seeing that their participation results in better IT investment decisions and more successful projects for the enterprise.

Finally, the CIO through the Investment and EA Review Boards wields control over the allocations of funds and prioritization of technology investments.