This blog post is based on the guest lecture that Chris Potts performed at the course B30 Enterprise Strategy, Business and Technology at the IT University of Copenhagen the 25th of October 2010.
It is growing sense around the world that Enterprise Architecture is dealing with more than IT; however since the concept’s origin from the world of IT has often been portrayed as an IT concept, and implemented as a rather IT centric tool.
Chris Potts asked the class at the lecture: “Can you recognize this architecture (this building – showing a picture of the insides of the Sydney opera house). This is a picture from the inside of the architecture. It proved to be the Sydney opera house but it is often hard to identify buildings (architectures) from the inside but it is rather easy to identify it from the outside”.
According to Potts is the biggest difference between an Enterprise Architect and a building’s architect, and that is “a building cannot change its own architecture” but an enterprise can, and Potts views on the definition of architects in enterprises deals mainly with that all the members in the enterprise in some way are architects. When it came to the role of Enterprise Architect is to change the world. Potts made use of the quotation below.
“According to Potts then Enterprise Architecture is about changing the world into something it probably wouldn’t otherwise have been.” – Chris Potts (2010b).
The question then becomes how to challenge the status quo, and the approach doesn’t always tells people what to do. So you may have an architecture but it doesn’t tell people what it is. According to Potts then sometimes the Enterprise Architect need to risk a lot as strategist and you would need to be ruthless.
Potts is of the opinion (an opinion he shares with Mintzberg and Ross & Weill) that strategy has to be embedded into the behavior of the actors within the enterprise. When it comes to behavior then there are two different forms that needs to be dealt with. The de facto behavior and the formalized behavior. The formalized approach to behavior deals with articulating the desired behavior in work structures through formalized descriptions of what is desired into the various artifacts.
When working with Enterprise Architecture then it might be a focus to use an argument as “Enhancing Enterprise Performance With Structural Innovations”. The hard part of this is the structural innovations part. The Enterprise Architect has to force himself to become innovative in using Enterprise Architecture and innovative in ways to improve the enterprise, and to create value for the enterprise as a whole.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – Aristole
Structural performance of the enterprise architecture is a principle that needs to be dealt with. Chris Potts mentioned that many investors work with analyzing the profits and costs of the enterprise but they usually fail with understanding or investigating if the enterprise is about to collapse from within due to bad architectural design.
There are many fundamental truths according to Potts. The first one is that the structural performance of an enterprise depends on its architecture, and the second one deals with an enterprise has an architecture regardless it is formalized or not.
The third truth that any enterprise architect should adapt is that the actual shape and structure of an enterprise’s architecture is the aggregated output of all its invests in change.
The fourth principle deals with the value of the structural innovation depends on the wider architectural context and last the enterprise architecture is about scenarios not certainties.
In this context the work with the core tactics is that the chief architect should bring both the explicit and implicit enterprise architects and make them work together.
Chris Potts introduced a new framework for change called the double e, double a journey.
Establish and explorer. These two steps are private to the chief architect and the activate and apply are public to the chief architect. It simply deals with taken over the enterprise through a guiding coalition which in principle can be related to the change framework that John P. Kotter who made the famous eight steps for change program (dating back to 1995).
The Scope of Enterprise Architecture was discussed and the class reached the following conclusions:
1. Activities and Processes.
8. Government and governance.
According to Potts markets do also have architectures and this approach leads to a fundamental focus on business architecture since the business architecture can’t stand alone to the market architecture. The market architecture contains the customer experience and from this perspective the architectures needs to be aligned to the market architecture to provide what the customers want. The business architecture in the other hand deals with the virtual organization (or more or less the virtual organization) and it is directly connected to the partners and suppliers that delivers materials and services to the enterprise.
According to Potts then structural performance is the key for measuring how well the enterprise is doing Enterprise Architecture. For this a cash-flow analysis based on the annual reports from the enterprise can be applied; however it is greatly encouraged to make use of other forms of analysis to come to this particular approach e.g., activity based costing. This approach might not give a correct view of status quo of the various lines of business and therefore other key performance indicators and methods needs to be applied.
Therefore should an Enterprise Architect make use of context specific strategies for each line of business. The example that Chris Potts made use of was a bit simplified in relation to measuring the different initiatives the enterprise works with; however it is a needed technology.
Chris Potts emphasize that the politics of management and the politics of organization is of great importance when it comes to Enterprise Architecture, and if the chief architect doesn’t understand the dialectic struggle within the enterprise then it certainly will become a problem for implementing Enterprise Architecture, and according to Potts the political aspect of governance is rather often worse in the public sector than it the private sector.
The interesting part about the approach that Potts makes use of is that he actively tries to describe how a chief enterprise architect has to be able to play many roles and he has to be able to facilitate innovation and development issues within both the lines of business and enable the top management of the enterprise to govern the various lines of business. In other words he has to be able to facilitate innovation while tightening control which usually is a contradiction.