One very powerful metaphor that has reverberated throughout the technical community, in the past few years, was the Agile Manifesto. Created by a group of folks who wanted to communicate the principles that drove their thinking, the Agile Manifesto has been a very useful tool for deciding if a particular practice is being done well. I think it may be time to build one for the Business Architecture space.
That said, I am by myself, sitting in my living room. I am in no position to speak for the community of business architects. So, this submission is a suggestion for content that could be useful when the conversation begins. It is my personal opinion about the principles of business architecture. I would hope to bring this material to a group of other BA practitioners, as my contribution, to develop a full consensus on business architecture manifesto.
First off, in order to develop principles for business architecture, we need to describe the problem that we are trying to solve.
Business architecture is a relatively new field that addresses an old problem. Most business people recognize the underlying truth: the structure and practices of your organization directly impacts your ability to deliver the intended value. Whether we are talking about a military service, a civilian government agency, a non-profit organization, or a for-profit business, the structures and processes that a leader chooses to employ will impact the results that the organization will produce. That includes both intended and unintended results. So the basic problem is this: how do we deliver on our mission while maintaining our values?
Business architecture gets to deal with a slice of that problem. As people, we need to organize around a common shared mission. We need to know what we want, and we need to go get it. Humans can be pretty haphazard. Business architecture does not address every issue. Business architecture attempts to answer this question: what is the optimal way to organize? Business architecture typically does NOT answer questions around the integration of corporate controls, or supporting activities like how to find staff to fill new roles. Business architecture is focused on the narrow slice of “how to organize.”
So why do we need business architecture to solve this problem? There are literally hundreds of good, well researched, books that offer useful insight for solving this problem. Why use a business architecture approach? Because BA brings a novel approach, one based on the rigorous application of conceptual traceability, process improvement, information science, and mathematics. While most of the business analysis methods prior to business architecture were founded, fundamentally, in social science, mechanical engineering, and even education, business architecture focuses on the newer sciences that have emerged in the computerized age.
Business architecture’s unique value proposition is to focus on answering the questions of business structural and organizational effectiveness in a way that is rigorous, quick, clear, consumable, and value-focused.
We are uncovering better ways of developing business insight by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work, we have come to value:
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
To break that down:
I’m always looking for insight and feedback from the community, so please feel free to add your comments.
Please note: if your comment is long, the software will sometimes have trouble. Write it in notepad or Word first, and then cut and paste into the comment edit window. Don’t be afraid to send it more than once. I will delete duplicates. If all else fails, e-mail your comment to me and I’ll put it in.
Excellent post Nick. Thank you! I'm glad you are promoting the need for Business Architecture. It was getting squeezed out with Enterprise Architecture and Information Architecture! From my experience, the Rapid Insight was the most powerful.