Photo: iStockPhoto The still-prevailing metaphor of an organization is a mechanical machinery. With logical certainty, the assumption goes, one can contrive how the organization should be, assemble it of its requisite constituents and then tune it into a rational, high-performance system.
Photo: iStockPhoto Well, this has worked adequately well in relatively static environments, where major changes occur infrequently. The changes are predictable and can be both anticipated and adapted to.
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/duncanh1/4123999205/ In these circumstances, organizations can afford defending their strategic positions against competition. Strategic competitive advantages, success factors and critical resources are aggressively maintained.
Photo: Matton The key factor of such a system is reliability. The machinery needs to work predictably and consistently. Human error is removed from the production process. In the attempt to achieve objectivity, however, the intrinsic ingenuity, discretion and judgment of human work is discarded.
Photo: iStockPhoto The highest virtue of the mechanic model is to achieve a state of equilibrium. This is, indeed, desirable when the current operations are streamlined, but the approach runs the risk of stagnation and inability to transformative change, when it would be needed.
Photo: iStockPhoto To reliably achieve this state of equilibrium, the organization aims at optimizing its operations by one-dimensional economic indicators, reducing variance and establishing internal controls, with which it can be made sure that work is conducted &quot;by the book&quot;.
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27461854@N04/3103089694/ The organization is thought of consisting of clearly separated, relatively independent sub-functions and sub-systems that have their own goals and ways of working. It is assumed to be enough to know how the constituents integrate with each other and work together. The internal logic of the components is considered irrelevant.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eflon/4404716468/ When the whole is forgotten, however, the architecture becomes sporadic. The lack of enterprise architecture could be compared to a slum that lacks city planning. Patched systems and idiosyncratic, permanently temporary solutions result in a complex IT environment that is difficult and expensive to change.
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/storem/206603303/ Steering business in such an environment is not too easy either. Changing the supporting IT calls for profound understanding of the underlying technical details. Would you dare to change settings on this steering wheel at 200 MPH?
Photo: iStockPhoto The business environment is not as stable and predictable as it used to be. Increasingly often it is characterized by continual, unpredictable and non-linear change that cannot be managed in the traditional sense.
Photo: iStockPhoto Such an environment requires the organizations to embrace innovation and create capabilities to address the environmental turbulence. Better, more, faster is no longer enough, but the organizations must specialize in their core excellence on the global scale.
Photo: iStockPhoto The mechanical metaphor of an organization falls short in addressing this level of innovation and ability to change. In changing and unpredictable environments, a more pertinent view is to conceive organizations as living and changing organisms that co-develop with their surrounding ecology.
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/damo1977/3852788851/ Agile strategic management calls for continual repositioning of competitive advantage. It resembles commando warfare: the objectives are clear, but the target and circumstances are changing on the way.
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/morberg/3003252554/ The future of leadership is in effectiveness: meaningful actions in ever-changing situations. In &quot;blue ocean strategy&quot;, new markets and business models are sought -- blue oceans with little if any competition. Rather than competing bloodily in &quot;red oceans&quot;, the organization innovates new ways of (co-)creating value.
Photo: iStockPhoto This means, of course, that the organization cannot remain in its stable comfort zone forever, but needs to strive towards even more auspicious circumstances. This is particularly challenging, because in order to achieve the next level of development, the organization must leave behind the former equilibrium.
Photo: iStockPhoto Rigid control systems and restrictions may impose obstacles to this genuine organizational development. In steering and governing the organization, the performance aspect and strategic considerations should be highlighted.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dandeluca/3639229177/ Moreover, centralized control does not work well in situations that call for coordination beyond organizational boundaries. Knowledge and services reside increasingly outside of the organization, and the very notion of boundary gets clouded.
Photo: Janne J. Korhonen Resilience of the organization calls for intentional design. Machu Picchu was designed and built in the 15th century to endure earthquakes and be hidden from the Spanish conquistadors. The city is still in place and in a relatively good shape.
Photo: iStockPhoto In a similar vein, enterprise architecture should be designed along the lines of &quot;city planning&quot; -- giving &quot;building permits&quot; to only those solutions that adhere to accepted and agreed-upon strategies and design standards. With the help of enterprise architecture, the organization can be more readily changed and developed in line with the strategy.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons As the name implies, thee scope of enterprise architecture is the entire business, which allows adressing cross-functional issues such as common information models, shared infrastructure, less overhead in development, etc. Let us not split the organization into separated problems. Let us make enterprise architecture good building art.
− Implications to EA
KAOS Pecha Kucha
November 18, 2010
Janne J. Korhonen
”What the system really needs, and all it needs, is a
way of measuring its own internal tendency to
depart from stability, and a set of rules for
experimenting with responses which will tend back
to an internal equilibrium.” – Stafford Beer (1972)
Resilience calls for
Photo: Janne J. Korhonen
− City Planning
Nothing is as dangerous in architecture as
dealing with separated problems. If we split
life into separated problems we split the
possibilities to make good building art.
− Alvar Aalto (1898−1976)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons