>Enterprise Architecture Design

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User-centric Enterprise Architecture provides information to decision-makers using design thinking, so as to make the information easy to understand and apply to planning and investment decisions.

Some examples of how we do this:

  1. Simplifying complex information by speaking the language of the business (and not all techie).
  2. Unifying disparate information to give a holistic view that breaks the traditional vertical (or functional) views and instead looks horizontally across the organization to foster enterprise solutions where we build once and reuse multiple times.
  3. Visualizing information to condense lots of information and tell a story—as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  4. Segmenting end-users and tailoring EA information products to the different user groups which we do with profiles geared to executive decision makers, models for mid-level managers, and inventories for the analysts.

Interestingly enough, in the summer issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, there is an article called “How to Become a Better Manager…By thinking Like a Designer.”

Here are some design pointers from the experts that you can use to aid your enterprise architectures (they are written to parallel the principles from User-centric EA, as I have previously described above):

  1. Embrace simplicity—“people often confuse simplicity…with simplistic….it takes courage to be simple…and the simplest solution is often the best.”
  2. Look for patterns in the data—“good problem solvers become proficient at identifying patterns.” Further, designers seek “harmony to bring together hierarchy, balance, contrast, and clear space in a meaningful way.”
  3. Apply visual thinking—often managers…rely heavily on data and information to tell the story and miss the opportunity to create context and meaning,” instead managers need to “think of themselves as designers, visual thinkers or storytellers.”
  4. Presenting clearly to specific end-users—“good design is about seeing and communicating clearly.” Moreover, it’s about “seeing things from the clients point of view…designers learn pretty quickly that is not about Me, it’s about You.”

MIT Sloan states “we have come to realize over the past few years that design-focused organizations do better financially than their less design-conscious competitors…design is crafting communications to answer audience needs in the most effective way.

This is a fundamental lesson: organizations that apply the User-centric Enterprise Architecture design approach will see superior results than legacy EA development efforts that built “artifacts” made up primarily of esoteric eye charts that users could not readily understand and apply.

>Storytelling and Enterprise Architecture

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Part of being a good leader is having a clear vision and the ability to articulate it.

Harvard Business Review, December 2007, reports that “the ability to articulate your story or that of your company is crucial in almost every phase of enterprise management.”

How do leaders use story-telling?

“A great salesperson knows how to tell a story in which the product is the hero. A successful line manager can rally the team to extraordinary efforts through a story that shows how short-term sacrifice leads to long-term success. An effective CEO uses an emotional narrative about the company’s mission to attract investors and partners, to set lofty goals, and to inspire employees.”

Here are some key lessons on how to tell the organization’s story:

  • Action-oriented—“for the leader, storytelling is action oriented—a force for turning dreams into goals and then into results.”
  • Instructional—“many think it is purely about entertainment, but the use of story is not only to delight, but to instruct and lead.”
  • Truth—storytelling is not about spinning yarns, but rather must be truthful and authentic.
  • Heartfelt—“our minds are relatively open, but we guard our hearts with zeal…so although the mind may be part of your target, the heart is the bulls-eye.”
  • A worthwhile journey—“a promise that the listeners’ expectation once aroused, will be fulfilled.”
  • A managed journey—“a great story is never fully predictable through foresight—but it’s projectable through hindsight.”
  • Personalize it for the listener—“everyone wants to be the star, or at least to feel that the story is talking to or about him personally.”
  • Tailor the story—“a great storyteller never tells a story the same way twice…tailor it to the situation [and the audience].”
  • Prepare and improvise—“sheer repetition and practice it brings is one key to great storytelling…at the same time the great storyteller is flexible enough to drop the script and improvise.”

“State-of-the-art technology is a great tool for capturing and transmitting words, images, and ideas, but the power of storytelling resides most fundamentally in ‘state-of-the-heart’ technology.

The enterprise architect must use story telling effectively—the chief architect captures information, analyzes it, and uses this information to tell the corporate story. The architect connects the business and technical dots of the enterprise, identifies the impetus for change, articulates the issues and proposed solutions, builds readiness and consensus, and drives business processes improvement, reengineering, and the introduction of new technologies to enable mission success. The architect must be able to engage listeners intellectually and emotionally to “motivate, sell, inspire, engage, and lead.” The chief enterprise architect must be able to win the hearts and minds of the people across the organization. Architecture is not an ivory-tower exercise and should not develop useless shelfware, but rather the enterprise architecture needs to tell a coherent, useful, and useable story that decision-makers can understand and act upon.