What’s Free And What’s Not

I like this saying and wanted to share it:

“The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately.”


Yes, this is the home of the free. 


And we are all able to dream BIG dreams.


However, without the hard work and hustle, dream are not made, but rather they die on the vine. 


So dream big–imagine the very best.


Reach for the stars…


And then work your butt off to make it happen.


Choose carefully. 


No one can have it all.


You have to prioritize.


Also, you need to balance. 


In the end:

Dreams+Hard Work+Blessing From G-d


That’s success by whatever standards you measure. 


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

>Measurement is Essential to Results

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Mission execution and performance results are the highest goals of enterprise architecture.

In the book Leadership by Rudolph Giuliani, he describes how performance measurement in his administration as mayor of NYC resulted in tremendous improvements, such as drastic decreases in crime. He states: “Every time we’d add a performance indicator, we’d see a similar pattern of improvement.”

How did Giuliani use performance measures? The centerpiece of the effort to reduce crime was a process called Compstat in which crime statistics were collected and analyzed daily, and then at meetings these stats were used to “hold each borough command’s feet to the fire.”

What improvements did Giuliani get from instituting performance measurements? Major felonies fell 12.3%, murder fell 17.9%, and robbery 15.5% from just 1993-1994. “New York’s [crime] rate reduction was three to six times the national average…far surpassed that of any other American city. And we not only brought down the crime rate, we kept it down.”

How important was performance measurement to Giuliani? Giuliani states, “even after eight years, I remain electrified by how effective those Compstat meetings could be. It became the crown jewel of my administration’s push for accountability—yet it had been resisted by many who did not want their performance to be measured.”

From an architecture perspective, performance measurement is critical—you cannot manage what you don’t measure!

Performance measurement is really at the heart of enterprise architecture—identifying where you are today (i.e. your baseline), setting your goals where you want to be in the future (i.e. your targets), and establishing a plan to get your organization from here to there through business process improvement, reengineering, and technology enablement.

In the end, genuine leadership means we direct people, process, and technology towards achieving measureable results. Fear of measurement just won’t make the grade!

>Engineering Employee Productivity and Enterprise Architecture

>Ever since (and realistically way before) Fredrick Taylor’s time and motion studies, employers have looked to “engineer” the way employees do their work to make them more efficient and effective.

The Wall Street Journal, 17 November 2008, reports that “Stores Count Seconds to Trim Labor Costs.”

Companies “break down tasks such as working a cash register into quantifiable units and devise standard times to complete them, called ‘engineered labor standards.’ Then it writes software to help clients keep watch over employees.”

So for example, in some retailers, “A clock starts ticking the instant he scans a customer’s first item, and it doesn’t shut off until his register spits out a receipt.”

Employees who don’t meet performance standards (e.g. they fall below 95%), get called into for counseling, training, and “various alternatives” (i.e. firing).

The result is “everybody is under stress.”

So, is this workforce optimization or micromanagement? Is this helping employees learn do a better job or is this just scare tactics geting them under the management whip?

Some employers are claiming improved productivity and cost savings:

One retailer, for example, claims saving $15,000 in labor costs across 34 stores for every one second shaved from the checkout process.

But others are finding that customer service and employee morale is suffering:

Check clerks are not as friendly. They don’t chat with customers during checkout. Cashiers “avoid eye contact with shoppers and generally hurry along older or infirm customers who might take longer to unload carts and count money.”

Additionally, as another cashier put it, “when you’re afraid you’re going to lose your job, you make more mistakes.”

Other employees are gaming the system to circumvent the rigid performance measures and for example, improving their time by hitting the suspend button to stop the clock more than they are supposed to—it is meant only for use when remotely scanning bulky merchandise.

The other problem with the engineered labor standards is that they often don’t take into account the “x factors”—the things that can go wrong that adversely affect your performance times. Some examples: customers who don’t have enough cash or those “digging through a purse,” credit cards that don’t swipe, “an item with no price or item number,” customers who forget something and go back or those that ask for an item located at the other end of the store.

It seems obvious that while we need to measure performance, we need to make sure that we measure that right things and in the right way.

What good is measuring pure speed of transactions to “boost efficiency” if at the same time we

  1. alienate our customers with poor service or
  2. harm employee morale, integrity and retention with exacting, inflexible, and onerous measurements?

Like all sound enterprise architecture efforts, we need to make sure that they are reasonable, balanced, and take into account not just technology, but people, and process.

In this case, we need to ensure the process is customer service driven and the employees are treated fairly and humanly. Without these, the productivity savings of engineered labor standards will be more than offset over time by the negative effects to our customers and employees.

>Intel is King of Change and Enterprise Architecture

>Intel is one of the most amazing companies. They are the world’s largest semiconductor company, and the inventor of the popular x86 microprocessor series found in most PCs. Intel has around $40 billion in annual revenue, and ranked 62 in the Fortune 500 last year.

The Wall Street Journal 27-28 September 2008 has an interview with CEO of Intel, Paul Ostellini, that offers some useful lessons for enterprise architects:

  • Plan for change—“A CEO’s main job, because you have access to all of the information, is to see the need to change before anyone else does.” It’s great when the CEO has access to the information for seeing ahead and around the curves, but many do not. Information is critical and leaders need plenty of it to keep from steering the enterprise off a cliff. An important role of enterprise architects is provide business and technical information to the CEO and other executives to give them clear vision to the changes needed to grow and safeguard the business. (Perhaps better information would have prevented or reduced the damage to so many companies in dot-com bubble a few years ago and the financial crisis afflicting Wall Street today!)
  • Question repeatedly—a prior CEO of Intel, Andrew Grove, taught him “Ask why, and ask it again five more times, until all of the artifice is stripped away and you end up with the intellectually honest answer.” It easy to accept things on face value or to make snap judgments, but to really understand an issue, you need to get below the surface, and the way you do this is to question and dig deeper. I think this is critical for enterprise architects who are evaluating business and technology and providing recommendations to the business that can potentially make or break change efficacy. Architects should not just capture information to plunk into the architecture repository, but should question what they are seeing and hearing about the business, validate it, categorize it, and analyze it, to add value to it before serving that information up to decision makers.
  • Measure Performance—“we systematically measured the performance of every part of the company to determine what was world class and what wasn’t. Then as analytically as possible, –we made the cuts…and saved $3 billion in overall spending.” Measuring performance is the only way to effectively manage performance. If decisions are to be anything more than gut and intuition, they need to be based on quantifiable measures and not just subjective management whim. Enterprise architects need to be proponents for enterprise-wide performance measurement. And not just at the top level either. Performance measures need to be implemented throughout the enterprise (vertically and horizontally) and dashboard views need to be provided to executives to make the measures visible and actionable.
  • Communicate, communicate—“I made it my job to communicate, communicate, communicate the positive message. I did open forums, I did Webcasts, I told the employees to send me questions via email and I’d answer them…you have to convince them through reasoning and logic, the accuracy of your claims.” Good communication is one of those areas that are often overlooked and underappreciated. Leadership often just assumes that people will follow because they are “the leaders”. NOPE! People are not sheep. They will not follow just because. People are intelligent and want to be respected and explained to why….communication early and often is the key. The approach to architecture that I espouse, User-centric EA, focuses on the users and effectively communicating with them—each the way they need to absorb the information and at the level that is actionable to them. Making architecture information easy to understand and readily available is essential to help make it valuable and actionable to the users. User-centric EA uses principles of communication and design to do this.

Intel, in its 40 year history, has repeatedly planned for change, measured it, and managed it successfully. Intel’s CEO, Gordon Moore, is the epitome of driving change. Moore, the founder of Moore’s Law, captured the exponential change/improvement in silicon chip performance—identifying that the number of transistors packed on silicon chip would double every two years. Intel’s subsequent obsession with Moore’s Law has kept them as the dominant player in computer processors and may lead them to dominance in cell phones and other mobile devices as well.

>Treating the Root Cause and Enterprise Architecture

>All too often, when there are issues in our organizations, we treat the symptoms instead of the problems. Just like this is bad medicine in treating illness and healing patients, so too it is ineffective in architecting our organizations.

The Wall Street Journal, 22 September 2008, has an article entitled “Making the Most of Customer Complaints.”

The quick-fix problem resolution:

“Companies have customer service sort out the immediate problem, offer an apology or some compensation, then assume all is well. This approach does nothing to address the underlying problem, practically guaranteeing similar failures and complaints.”

This “has enormous impact on customer satisfaction, repeat business, and ultimately profits and growth.”

The three actors and their conflicting approaches:

The customer—“can be left feeling their problem was not addressed seriously, even when they’ve received some form of compensation.” Customers are fairness-minded; they want to know why the problem occurred and that it will not happen again.

The service rep—“can start seeing complaining customers as the enemy, even though they point out flaws that need fixing.” Customer service reps are yelled at and abused by frustrated and angry customers who hold the service reps responsible for failures that are out of their control.

The managers—“can feel pressure to limit flows of critical customer comments, even though acting on the information will improve efficiency and profits.” Managers need to learn from failures and reengineer the processes to correct problems, but instead they fear reporting negative customer satisfaction and shun reporting these. In essence, they are taught to just make the problem go away!

The result:

“Fewer than 8% of the 60 organizations” in the wall Street Journal study did well integrating these actors and their perspectives to resolve problems at their root cause.

The focus unfortunately is on short term results instead of architecting long term success.

“Our experience with managers interested in improving service recovery indicates that most hope for a quick fix…but quick fixes only treat the symptoms of underlying problems. Real resolutions should involve closer integration among the three stakeholders, such as gathering more information from customers and sharing it throughout the company, and adopting new structures and practices that make it easier to spot problems and fix them.

There is an important enterprise architecture lesson here:

While executive management often want to achieve a quick turnaround and show results ASAP, and getting the low hanging fruit is often quite tempting, it is not often going to lead to substantive improvement in our organizations without a commitment and plan to address root cause.

Sure, in architecting the organization, we need to start somewhere, show progress, and continuously build on initial success (i.e. it’s an evolutionary process). However, there must be a long term plan/architecture that deals with genuine, deep-seated organizational issues, improves our underlying processes and their technology enablement, and leads to fundamental growth and enterprise maturation. A quick fix just will not do!

>Home Depot and User-Centric Enterprise Architecture

>Operational efficiency can be the downfall of customer service.

Home Depot, with approximately $80 billion in sales is #22 on the Fortune 500. They are the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer with over 2200 retail stores, and after Wal-Mart, they are the second largest retailer in the U.S.

Yet, Home Depot has been on a slide, according to Fortune Magazine, 29 September 2008.

“Over the past several years a trip to the big orange box has so often ended in frustration that the company once famous for its helpful employees became fodder for late-night TV jokes and home to hundreds of blog rants about bad experiences and disengaged or scarce employees.”

How has this affected business?

“On the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, Home Depot fell eight points in seven years, to 67 at the end of 2007. It was the largest drop for any retailer in the index, while rival Lowe’s remained steady at 75…In this third year of decline, Home Depot’s same-store sales dropped 7.9% in 2008 second fiscal quarter; rival Lowe’s posted a 5.3% drop.”

What went wrong at Home Depot?

In 2000, Robert Nardelli of GE took over as CEO, acquired 30 companies and nearly doubled revenues, but he also imposed the rigorous GE style “systems- and data-culture, to help centralize purchasing and merchandising…[focusing] on growth and efficiency” and assessing store managers on 30 metrics, but “none related to customer service.”

Can you believe that Home Depot used 30 measures and NOT ONE had to do with customer service???

Unfortunately, says Ken Langone, one of the founders of Home Depot, Nardelli “didn’t appreciate the importance of a kid on the floor with an apron on.”

“The focus was on the metrics below the sales line, but not sales itself,” says a regional manager. “Stores became dirty, employees, surely or scarce. The result a company that looked better on paper, felt much unhappier in person. And in the retail business, where the customer experience is what matters most, that unhappiness eventually showed up at the cash register.”

Back to customer basics:

Now, under new CEO Frank Blake, Home Depot is returning to its customer-driven roots, and as a result they are closing the same-store sales gap with Lowes and stopping the slide in customer satisfaction. But regaining the trust of their customers will certainly be a challenge and a road to recovery.

As I read this story in Fortune about Home Depot and internalized it, I came to appreciate more than ever the duality and criticality of User-centric Enterprise Architecture (UCEA).

UCEA is not just developing the enterprise architecture with our users in mind (i.e. providing critical strategic information and governance services to the executive decision makers, line of business program and project managers, and IT professionals)—that is only one part. Perhaps the more critical element of User-centric EA is focusing the enterprise’s architecture on its customers. The way to continuously move the organization into the future is to always to focus and refocus on the organizations’ customers—on their needs, tastes, and continuous satisfaction.

The key is to align the business and technical architecture with customer needs. The organization will only succeed if its users are getting what they need and that is the architecture that must be developed and refined over time.

>“Postmodern IT” and Enterprise Architecture

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We all want to know where IT is going in the future, what the trends are, so we can meet our future in it head-on.

CIO Magazine, 1 May 2006, had an article called, “The Postmodern Manifesto”, predicting what the postmodern IT department will look like. 2+ years have passed (a long time in IT according to Moore’s Law), but these IT trends remain solid and true.

  • Business innovation—“IT will assume responsibility for business innovation across the company. IT has spent the better part of 40 years automating business processes…IT’s role in process innovation will only increase…’we’ve gone from being the engineers of new processes to being the movers of innovation across the company,’” says Judith Campbell CIO of New York Life.

This view is consistent with the Federal Enterprise Architecture Practice Guidance, November 2007 that states: “Results-oriented architecture is developed with the context of the Performance Improvement Lifecycle broken down into three-phases: ‘Architect’, ‘Invest’ and ‘Implement’. Each lifecycle phases is comprised of tightly integrated processes which combine to transform an agency’s top-down strategic goals and bottom-up system needs into a logical series of work products designed to help the agency achieve strategic results.”

Bottom line is the IT function and enterprise architecture in particular is viewed as the discipline for business process reengineering, improvement, and the introduction of new technologies, and the measure of success is results—cost-savings, cost-efficiencies, and performance improvements.

  • Federated governance—“IT governance will settle on the federated model and shared services…CIO’s have come to a consensus on the overall model for IT: a mix of centralized and local services known as the federated model, which is governed centrally by a small headquarters staff that gives varying degrees of autonomy to IT groups allied with different business units, functions or geographies.”

This is consistent with the need for IT organizations to be interoperable, secure, share information and services, and be cost effective, yet at the same time stay nimble and allow “unique resources to remain local.”

  • Return on Investment (ROI)—“IT ROI will become even more difficult to prove…Tacit IT is not about automation…Tacit IT is all about decision support, knowledge management, business intelligence and artificial intelligence…And the pressure will be on vendors to make technology think rather than automate.”

IT has always been challenged in measuring return on investment (or in the government return on mission), but it is especially difficult when it comes quantifying the return on an abstract called information.

This performance measurement challenge is manifest in the field of enterprise architecture as well.

At the 1105 Government Information Group Enterprise Architecture Conference in DC this past week, Keith Herrington of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) presented the following:

“• Observation: Within the Federal government there is no observed link between the maturity of the enterprise architecture effort and the performance of the enterprise as a whole.”

I too have personally seen many agencies struggle to quantify the results of their IT and architecture programs and hence, anecdotal evidence, unfortunately continues to prevail as the default “measurement.”

  • Transformation—“CIOs will have to step up…’the concept of providing a secure, stable infrastructure is merely the price of admission,’ says Jeffrey Campbell, CIO of BNSF Railway. ‘[to survive], you have to be a transformational CIO.’”

So true! According to an article in Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 3, Issue, “Metrics that Matter”: “IT should measure three types of attributes in what is essentially a modified form of the Balanced Scorecard approach to measure performance and change management. Those three attributes are: strategic value, project management effectiveness, and operational effectiveness. Ironically, while the first two matter the most to executives in most cases, IT typically focuses on the third area, which executives only care about if the IT department has a history of failure and thus needs to be closely monitored on the basics.”

Yes, we need to make sure the IT computer and server “lights” stay on, the network is up and the communications are available, but more importantly we need to take IT to the next level, to strategically partner with the business to architect, govern, and achieve genuine, measureable ROI and transformation!