Innovation in an Enterprise Architecture Context: Innovating the Business Processes, Technological Services and Corporate Strategies.

Innovation

This blog post deals with innovation in regards to the Enterprise Architecture program. I’ve been able to identify two different approaches to innovation. The first approach to innovation is what I define as incremental innovation. The second approach to innovation is radical innovation. In most cases incremental innovation is innovation in social systems where small improvements have been introduced to the social systems.

Likewise is radical innovations forms of innovations that fundamentally changes the social systems e.g. how they work or how they interact with one another.

Likewise is the concept of innovation extremely context dependable. For one social system a particular approach could be considered an innovation where the same concept could be considered old news. Innovation, could as before mentioned, be incremental saying that a new way to deal with the piece of technology or business activity. Likewise could the same situation be radical if the technology never had been used before.

When it comes to innovation and applying it in the context of the enterprise the question of adaption would have to be dealt with.

Adaption

Rogers speaks of how the innovations spreads to the various organizations, parts of the organizations and people. In this process there are five stages before the people of the enterprise would be able to fully apply any given form of innovation.

Innovation defused by that people observer other people who have success by applying the particular innovation in order to solve problems or to certain things in a new way that benefits them and their social structures.

Social systems shares a culture that is shared among the individuals who interact with the social systems. The purpose of the culture is to give the members of the enterprise a sense of security against the ever changing environment that the members of the enterprise is situated in. Culture is usually against changes and thereby against innovations. However there are also cases that suggests that culture can be used to enable the enterprise with innovation if the executives and middle management gives the employes the proper amount of trust.

In other words Enterprise Architecture has to be adapted to the enterprise that is about to invest in the program and as such the Enterprise Architecture program can be seen as an incremental innovation and a radical innovation depending on how the decision makers and the stakeholders sees the implementation process.

Innovation and EA

In regards to enterprise innovation the focus of Enterprise Architecture would be to deal with the processes in the enterprise. For enterprises the idea of incremental innovation would be dealing with the processes in small steps while radical innovations would be innovations that are “game changing” for the enterprise. In this particular light it is a necessity to see Enterprise Architecture as a form of continuous innovation for the enterprise and as such a container for future innovations and as such can the Enterprise Architecture program become a barrier for the innovativeness of the enterprise.

It easily become a fine act of balancing between the rules, standards and principles and the necessity to crystalize solutions for the various unplanned situations that the enterprise experience. Ciborra named this the concept of bricolage (or organizational hacking). In order to facilitate bricolage it is a necessity for the decision takers to empower the employees of the enterprise by allocating power and accountability to the middle managers or the employees. As such this should give the enterprise the necessary platform in order to make bricolage works.

Innovation in this context could be facilitated by the various stakeholders of the enterprise and through the Enterprise Architecture program the concept of innovation could empower the alignment and the agility of the enterprise.

Enterprise Architecture

So what is Enterprise Architecture all about? I’ve chosen to define Enterprise Architecture as a program that deals with the various projects that the enterprise works with in order to change its architecture. However this can not serve as a definition since it doesn’t include some of the most important elements of Enterprise Architecture. Enterprise Architecture as a concept includes an element of documentation of the current architecture of the enterprise (known as the AS – IS situation) and an element that deals with how the future architecture of the enterprise should be like (the To – Be situation). Different communities of practice within the ecosystem of Enterprise Architecture practitioners sees the concept of Enterprise Architecture differently e.g. some sees Enterprise Architecture as a set of processes that constantly ensures some alignment through the implementation of processes and others who sees Enterprise Architecture as a form of blueprinting that ensures that the enterprise develops in to a coherent entity. There are most likely different views of what Enterprise Architecture is all about in the various communities in the ecosystem, and it is almost certain that each book that have been published on Enterprise Architecture works with its own definition of the concept.

My definition of Enterprise Architecture is in this context that Enterprise Architecture (as a concept) consists of a program for documentation of the enterprise’s architecture, a program for identification, specification and development of projects that enable the enterprise to achieve its goals. Likewise does the concept of Enterprise Architecture include the development of standards and principles that are used to govern the enterprise on all levels. When this is said the last component that add to the definition of what Enterprise Architecture is all about is the concept of enterprise governance.

Enterprise governance has to ensure that the enterprise achieves its goals and the goals can only be achieved if there is some kind of innovation in the enterprise. Innovation should in this context be understood as an ability to alter the various parameters of the enterprise.

The Synthesis

I’ve with some inspiration from Leavitt (1965) and his diamond model defined my own model that shows what Enterprise Architecture is all about. Enterprise Architecture is the platform for how the organization executes the business objectives, business processes and technology services. As such the holistic approach to deal with the elements of tasks, business objectives and technology services will have an impact on what kind of employees that would be needed in order to ensure that the enterprise can produce products and services to its customers. Each of the elements impacts the other elements and as such the decision makers (executives, middle managers, team leaders or anarchies) have to deal with the problems through the Enterprise Architecture platform and program.

People are the key when it comes to the breakdown of the classical barriers in the organizational hierarchy and as such it becomes a necessity to deal with people in order to achieve a better and more mature enterprise architecture. It becomes a necessity to deal with the focus of who the enterprise have access to and how the various stakeholders of the enterprise can add to the innovativeness of the enterprise.

While the enterprise adds value through producing products and services to its customers. The various stakeholders in the enterprise do some kind of bricolage or organizational hacking. The concept of organizational hacking can’t be dealt with in any other way and as such most of this “hacking” helps the organization deal with the everyday crisis and as such the Enterprise Architecture program (principles, standards and security) has to take this into consideration and find the balance between hacking and standardization.

While implementing an Enterprise Architecture program the decision makers would have to ensure that incremental innovation isn’t neglected or for that matter locked due to the approach to standards and principles. Likewise should the decision makers work with the concept of bricolage in their assumptions of planning, and as such they should embrace that two, three or five year plans can’t lead to competitive advantages.

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