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Conway's Law, Cognitive Diversity, Organisation Transformation And Solution Design

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These topics may appear to be separate but are closely related to the need for an effective solution design process, approach and function.

Nearly 50 years ago, Dr Melvin Conway wrote a short and insightful article titled How Do Committees Invent? where he made a number of observations on the system and solution design process including “… organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” which has become known as Conway’s Law. He identified organisation problems that lead to poor solution design.

Conway’s Law is a warning rather than a prediction. It provides an insight into the solution design problems that can occur if the solution design structures, processes and function are not optimised. What he describes does not have to happen but all too frequently does.

Cognitive Diversity has become a fashionable concept that is talked about more than implemented. It has been written about extensively by Dr Scott Page. The core concept is that “… a random group of intelligent problem solvers will outperform a group of the best problem solvers”.

The value of cognitive diversity to organisations is greatest in the thinking areas such as the solution design function. Managing diverse teams can be difficult and achieving cognitive diversity can be painful and challenging. Cognitive diversity of less value in pure operational and transactions areas where there is a reduced need for problem-solving.

Cognitive diversity protects the organisation against factors such as Cognitive Bias, Strategic Misrepresentation, Planning Fallacy, Optimism Bias, Focalism and Groupthink and their consequences.

Cognitive diversity protects against the effects of Conway’s Law.

Many organisations are attempting to transform themselves in response to external changes and drivers. Organisation transformation is frequently concerned with a migration from product-orientation to services-orientation characterised by responsiveness, customer centricity, self-service and flexibility. Information technology underpins successful and effective organisation transformation.

This is especially true of initiatives such as digital transformation. Digital transformation involves designing and implementing solutions across a wide range of application and system areas.
Being good at solution design means that solutions are defined, designed and delivered in a reliable, stable and innovative way to ensure that cost, time, required functionality and quality are constantly optimised to meet the needs of the business.

Good solution design mean:

• Being aware of all the options and selecting the most appropriate one subject to all constraints
• Avoiding all the conscious and unconscious biases that lead to bad solutions

Put simply, a cognitively diverse team designs better solutions.

Published in: Technology

Conway's Law, Cognitive Diversity, Organisation Transformation And Solution Design

  1. 1. Conway's Law, Cognitive Diversity, Organisation Transformation And Solution Design Alan McSweeney http://ie.linkedin.com/in/alanmcsweeney
  2. 2. Conway's Law, Cognitive Diversity, Organisation Transformation And Solution Design • A mouthful of apparently diverse but actually very closely related topics September 27, 2016 2
  3. 3. Conway's Law, Cognitive Diversity, Organisation Transformation And Solution Design September 27, 2016 3 Conway’s Law Describes Limitations In The Way Organisations Design Systems Cognitive Diversity Concept That Teams With Diversity In Perspective And Experience Develop Better Solutions To Problems Than Homogenous Teams Of High Achievers Organisation Transformation Designing And Implementing New Organisation Structures And Processes And Supporting And Enabling Solutions And Technologies Solution Design Approach To Designing Solutions That Meet The Needs Of The Business And Deliver Business Benefits Effective Solution Design Capability Is Needed To Achieve Transformation Creates Awareness Of And Describes Organisation Limitations To Achieving Effective Solution Cognitive Diversity Enables Better Solution Identification Describes Organisation Limitations In Solution Design An Approach To Overcoming The Limitations Described In Conway’s Law
  4. 4. Conway's Law September 27, 2016 4 Cognitive Diversity Concept That Teams With Diversity In Perspective And Experience Develop Better Solutions To Problems Than Homogenous Teams Of High Achievers Organisation Transformation Designing And Implementing New Organisation Structures And Processes And Supporting And Enabling Solutions And Technologies Solution Design Approach To Designing Solutions That Meet The Needs Of The Business And Deliver Business Benefits Effective Solution Design Capability Is Needed To Achieve Transformation Creates Awareness Of And Describes Organisation Limitations To Achieving Effective Solution Cognitive Diversity Enables Better Solution Identification Describes Organisation Limitations In Solution Design An Approach To Overcoming The Limitations Described In Conway’s Law Conway’s Law Describes Limitations In The Way Organisations Design Systems
  5. 5. Conway’s Law • Short article written by Dr Melvin Conway in April 1968 - How Do Committees Invent? - Design Organization Criteria − http://www.melconway.com/Home/pdf/committees.pdf • Nearly 50 years old and still as insightful as when it was originally written −“ … there is a very close relationship between the structure of a system and the structure of the organization which designed it.” −“… organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” September 27, 2016 5
  6. 6. Dr Melvin Conway - How Do Committees Invent? September 27, 2016 6
  7. 7. Conway - How Do Committees Invent? • “That kind of intellectual activity which creates a whole from its diverse parts may be called the design of a system.” • “It is an article of faith among experienced system designers that given any system design, someone someday will find a better one to do the same job. In other words, it is misleading and incorrect to speak of the design for a specific job, unless this is understood in the context of space, time, knowledge, and technology. The humility which this belief should impose on system designers is the only appropriate posture for those who read history or consult their memories.” September 27, 2016 7
  8. 8. Conway - Solution Design Stages And Problems September 27, 2016 8 Understanding of the boundaries, both on the design activity and on the system to be designed, placed by the sponsor and by the world's realities Achievement of a preliminary notion of the system's organization so that design task groups can be meaningfully assigned Choice of a preliminary system concept Organization of the design activity and delegation of tasks according to that concept Coordination among delegated tasks Consolidation of subdesigns into a single design Organisational Bias Gets Introduced and Reinforced Through The Design Process Design Fragmentation Starts And Persists
  9. 9. The Design Organisation • “Parkinson's Law plays an important role in the overassignment of design effort. As long as the manager's prestige and power are tied to the size of his budget, he will be motivated to expand his organization. This is an inappropriate motive in the management of a system design activity. Once the organization exists, of course, it will be used. Probably the greatest single common factor behind many poorly designed systems now in existence has been the availability of a design organization in need of work.” September 27, 2016 9
  10. 10. The Design Organisation • The structure of the wider organisation ensures the design function is incentivised to become large • The large design function creates work for itself to justify its size and existence September 27, 2016 10
  11. 11. Conway’s Law And Large System Design And Development Disintegration September 27, 2016 11 “The structures of large systems tend to disintegrate during development, qualitatively more so than with small systems.” “First, the realization by the initial designers that the system will be large, together with certain pressures in their organization, make irresistible the temptation to assign too many people to a design effort..”“Second, application of the conventional wisdom of management to a large design organization causes its communication structure to disintegrate.” “Third, the [structure-preserving relationship between the organisation and its designs] insures that the structure of the system will reflect the disintegration which has occurred in the design organization.”
  12. 12. Solving The Design Structure Reproduction Bias • “Ways must be found to reward design managers for keeping their organizations lean and flexible. There is need for a philosophy of system design management which is not based on the assumption that adding manpower simply adds to productivity. The development of such a philosophy promises to unearth basic questions about value of resources and techniques of communication which will need to be answered before our system-building technology can proceed with confidence.” September 27, 2016 12
  13. 13. Conway’s Law • Is an example of an organisation comfort zone – where the organisations remain and repeats what is it comfortable with − People and organisations like comfort zones because they are comfortable • Provides an insight into the solution design problems that can occur if the solution design structures, processes and function are not optimised • What is describes does not have to happen but all too frequently does • It is a warning rather than a prediction September 27, 2016 13
  14. 14. Cognitive Diversity September 27, 2016 14 Conway’s Law Describes Limitations In The Way Organisations Design Systems Organisation Transformation Designing And Implementing New Organisation Structures And Processes And Supporting And Enabling Solutions And Technologies Solution Design Approach To Designing Solutions That Meet The Needs Of The Business And Deliver Business Benefits Effective Solution Design Capability Is Needed To Achieve Transformation Creates Awareness Of And Describes Organisation Limitations To Achieving Effective Solution Cognitive Diversity Enables Better Solution Identification Describes Organisation Limitations In Solution Design An Approach To Overcoming The Limitations Described In Conway’s Law Cognitive Diversity Concept That Teams With Diversity In Perspective And Experience Develop Better Solutions To Problems Than Homogenous Teams Of High Achievers
  15. 15. Cognitive Diversity • Value in Diversity Hypothesis - Dr Scott Page, University of Michigan − Paper: Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers • “… a random group of intelligent problem solvers will outperform a group of the best problem solvers” − Based on some dodgy mathematical reasoning but the concept is nonetheless valid • Cognitive Diversity has become a fashionable concept that is talked about more than implemented • Value of cognitive diversity to organisations is greatest in the thinking areas − But managing diverse teams can be difficult − Achieving cognitive diversity can be painful and challenging • It is of less value in pure operational and transactions areas where there is a reduced need for problem-solving September 27, 2016 15
  16. 16. Solutions To Problems Can Be Represented As Minima On A Graph September 27, 2016 16 Possible Solutions To Problems – Local and Global Minima
  17. 17. Solutions To Problems Can Be Represented As Minima In Graph September 27, 2016 17 How Do You Know The Local Minimum You Have Found Is The Absolute Minimum? Local Minimum Absolute Minimum
  18. 18. Solution Identification And Team With Narrowly Focussed Skills September 27, 2016 18 Team With Too Similar And Clustered Skills And Experiences Frequently Cannot See Beyond Their Collective Horizon
  19. 19. Solution Identification And Team With Broad Range Of Skills September 27, 2016 19 More Cognitively Diverse Team With Broad Range Of Skills And Experiences Sees Wider Range Of Solution Options Including Better Ones
  20. 20. Cognitive Diversity Can Protect The Organisation Against … • Cognitive Bias – Poor or inaccurate judgements, illogical interpretations and decisions, characterised by patterns of behaviour • Strategic Misrepresentation – Deliberate misrepresentation in budgeting caused by distorted incentives • Planning Fallacy – Systematic tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task even when there is past experience of similar tasks over-running • Optimism Bias – Systematic tendency to be overly optimistic about the outcome of actions • Focalism – Systematic tendency to become inwardly focussed and to lose situational awareness and appreciation of wider context during times of stress • Groupthink – The need for agreement, accord and compliance within the group results in a flawed, illogical and inhibited decision- making processes and decisions September 27, 2016 20
  21. 21. Feeling The Squeeze September 27, 2016 21 Cognitive Biases Focalism Factors Affecting Good Design Decisions
  22. 22. Cognitive Bias - Types • Many classifications and types of cognitive bias • Can be very difficult to avoid because of their embedded nature and emotional/irrational basis − Decision-Making and Behavioural Biases - affecting belief formation and business decisions − Probability and Belief Biases - affecting way in which information is gathered and assessed − Attributional Biases - affecting the determination what was responsible for an event or action • Cognitive biases are very real and can have damaging effects September 27, 2016 22
  23. 23. Decision-Making And Behavioural Biases • Relying too heavily on one piece of information when making a decision - Anchoring • Believing things because many others, believe the same – Bandwagon • Assigning greater weight to apparently dominant factors – Attention Bias • Interpreting information so as to that confirms preconceptions – Confirmation • Seeing oneself as less biased than others – Blind Spot • Strong preference for immediate payoffs relative to later ones – Hyperbolic Discounting • Greater preferences just because of familiarity - Exposure Effect • Paying more attention and giving more weight to the negative rather than the positive – Negativity Bias • Looking for information even when it cannot affect action – Information Bias • Placing too much importance on one aspect - Focusing Effect • Looking to reduce a small risk to zero rather than a greater reduction of a larger risk – Zero-Risk Bias • Rejecting new evidence that contradicts an established paradigm – Semmelweis Effect • Making decisions based to what is pleasing to imagine instead basing decisions on evidence and rationality – Wishful Thinking • Assigning a higher value to disposal/loss compared with cost of acquisition – Sunk Cost Effect • Viewing a harmful action as worse than an equally harmful omission or inaction – Omission Bias • Justifying increased investment based on the cumulative prior investment despite new evidence suggesting that the decision was wrong - Irrational Escalation September 27, 2016 23
  24. 24. Probability And Belief Biases • Excessive or inflated belief one's performance, ability – Overconfidence Effect • Belief gaining plausibility through increasing repetition – Availability Cascade • Assigning greater weight to initial or recent events more than subsequent or later events – Serial Position Effect • Assigning a lower probability to the whole than the probabilities of the parts – Subadditivity Effect • Avoidance of risk or the negative by pretending they do not exist – Ostrich Effect • Judging future events in a more positive light than is warranted by actual experience – Optimism Bias • Perceiving patterns where none exist – Clustering • Selecting an options for which the probability of a favourable outcome is known over an option for which the probability of a favourable outcome is unknown - Ambiguity Effect • Considering information to be correct if it has any personal meaning or significance – Subjective Validation • Overestimating the likelihood of positive rather than negative outcomes – Valence Effect • Failure to examine all possible outcomes when making a judgment – Attentional Bias September 27, 2016 24
  25. 25. Attributional Biases • Where skilled underrate their abilities and unskilled overrate their abilities – Dunning–Kruger Effect • Defending the status quo – System Justification • Overestimation of agreement – False Consensus Effect September 27, 2016 25
  26. 26. Strategic Misrepresentation • Deliberate misrepresentation in planning and budgeting caused by distorted incentives • Response to how organisations structure rewards and give rise to motivations • Systematic (and predictable) misrepresentation − Deliberately underestimate costs to gain acceptance with understanding that costs will increase − Not willing to face reality of high costs − Overstatement or understatement of requirements − Competition for scarce funds or jockeying for position − Inclusion of ideology into planning • Underlying system and processes need to be redesigned to eliminate September 27, 2016 26
  27. 27. Groupthink • The need for agreement, accord and compliance within the group results in a flawed, illogical and inhibited decision-making processes and decisions • Group becomes dominated by small number or single individual who forces their beliefs on the group • Tendency for consensus and agreement and the desire to minimise contention means alternatives are not fully evaluated • Group isolates itself from information on alternatives • Disagreement and dissent are quashed or concealed through self-censorship September 27, 2016 27
  28. 28. Groupthink Symptoms And Characteristics September 27, 2016 28 Groupthink Exaggeration Of The Power And Rightness Of The Group Illusion of Invulnerability Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic Illusion of Morality Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions Closed-Mindedness Collective Rationalization Members discredit and explain away warning contrary to group thinking Excessive Stereotyping The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group Uniformity, Unanimity and Suppression of Dissent Pressure for Conformity Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty Self- Censorship Members withhold their dissenting views and counter- arguments Illusion of Unanimity Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence is seen as consent Mindguards Some group members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency
  29. 29. Collective Organisation Cognitive Diversity • Individual abilities grow only slowly over time • Collective organisation diversity can grow • Cognitive diversity is an enabler of innovation and problem resolution September 27, 2016 29
  30. 30. Dimensions And Extent Of Cognitive Diversity • Knowledge/Experience/Skills – “tangible” diversity – measure of specific skills that are not directly relevant to the domain of the organisation • Mindset/Viewpoint/Attitude/Frame Of Reference – “intangible” diversity – measure of creativity/ originality/ ingenuity • Extent Of Cognitive Diversity – Need to find an appropriate level/amount for the organisation to balance benefits and challenges September 27, 2016 30
  31. 31. One View Of Knowledge/Experience/Skills Cognitive Diversity Dimension September 27, 2016 31 Specific Domain Skills (Banking, Pharmaceutical, Utility, Telecoms, etc.) Common Organisation Skills and Experience Instead Of Looking For Domain Specific Skills Look For People With World-Class Skills In Areas Common To All Organisations
  32. 32. Dimensions And Extent Of Cognitive Diversity September 27, 2016 32 Knowledge/ Experience/ Skills Mindset/ Viewpoint/ Attitude/ Frame Of Reference Extent Of Cognitive Diversity
  33. 33. Are You Ready For The Challenges Of Cognitive Diversity? September 27, 2016 33 Yes That’s Great Wonderful Absolutely I Agree No I Don’t Agree That’s Not Right There’s Got To Be A Better Way Why Are We Doing This? Change From Yes Men To No Men And Why Men
  34. 34. Find The Right Balance Of Cognitive Diversity September 27, 2016 34 Knowledge/ Experience/ Skills Mindset/ Viewpoint/ Attitude/ Frame Of Reference Extent Of Cognitive Diversity High Tangible Low Intangible High Intangible Low Tangible Medium Intangible Medium Tangible
  35. 35. Cognitive Diversity Balancing Act September 27, 2016 35 Lack of broad range of experience and perspective High overhead of managing very diverse teams
  36. 36. Measuring (The Outcomes Of) Cognitive Diversity • There are no simple and objective cognitive diversity metrics − Some attempts to develop complex measures based on “cognitive distance” of members of the group − Commercially available questionnaires on cognitive style of team members – “object imagers”, “spatial imagers” and “verbalisers” – that are of limited use • All measures are purely subjective • A subjective measure of cognitive diversity may itself be biased and may not represent actual and effective cognitive diversity that delivers successful outcomes • Be wary of pseudo-cognitive diversity masquerading as actual cognitive diversity September 27, 2016 36
  37. 37. Cognitive DINO (Diversity In Name Only) • Avoid the cognitive diversity DINOsaurs September 27, 2016 37
  38. 38. Bias Towards Lack Of Cognitive Diversity In Organisations • Organisations and those who hire new staff tend to look for people with similar skills and experience, reinforcing bias and ensuring similarity − Cognitive diversity moves an organisations and its individuals from their comfort zones • Specific organisation domain experience is valued over other skills and experience • Organisations reproduce themselves through unconscious reinforcement and bias • Organisations consequently have difficulty in reacting to change, introducing innovations and achieving necessary transformation • New organisations with new structures perform well initially and overtake established ones until they too become affected by embedded lack of cognitive diversity and are themselves overtaken September 27, 2016 38
  39. 39. Bias Towards Lack Of Cognitive Diversity In Organisations • Lack of cognitive diversity is an example of the application of Conway’s Law in the identification and implementation of staffing solutions • Cognitive diversity neither recognised or valued • The solution design function benefits from controlled cognitive diversity September 27, 2016 39
  40. 40. Organisation Transformation September 27, 2016 40 Conway’s Law Describes Limitations In The Way Organisations Design Systems Cognitive Diversity Concept That Teams With Diversity In Perspective And Experience Develop Better Solutions To Problems Than Homogenous Teams Of High Achievers Solution Design Approach To Designing Solutions That Meet The Needs Of The Business And Deliver Business Benefits Effective Solution Design Capability Is Needed To Achieve Transformation Creates Awareness Of And Describes Organisation Limitations To Achieving Effective Solution Cognitive Diversity Enables Better Solution Identification Describes Organisation Limitations In Solution Design An Approach To Overcoming The Limitations Described In Conway’s Law Organisation Transformation Designing And Implementing New Organisation Structures And Processes And Supporting And Enabling Solutions And Technologies
  41. 41. Organisation Transformation • Is concerned with a structured approach to analysing, designing and then the implementation of changes to the operation of an existing business function or entire organisation with a view to improving its operations or developing a new business function along the dimensions of: − Location and Offices − Business Processes − Technology, Infrastructure and Communications − Applications and Systems − Information and Data − Organisation and Structure • It is about business solutions and organisation changes to deliver business objectives September 27, 2016 41
  42. 42. September 27, 2016 42 Organisation Transformation Is Frequently Concerned With A Migration From Products To Services Product Solution Limited Services Utility Services Ongoing Services Where Many Companies Are Now Where Many Companies Want To Be Need A Structured Approach For Transformation To Achieve Services Vision Differentiated Responsive Customer Centric Self-Service Flexible
  43. 43. Drivers Of Organisation Transformation September 27, 2016 43 • Merger/ Acquisition/ Divestment • Customer Requirements / Expectations • Regulatory Changes • Market Changes • New Products / Services • Competitive Pressure • Organisational Changes • Business Needs • Technology Changes
  44. 44. …Improve Customer Satisfaction September 27, 2016 44 Typical Organisation Transformation Desired Outcomes …Reduce Process Cycle Times …Reduce Operational Costs …Improve Service Quality …Reduce Time To Introduce New Products/Services
  45. 45. Organisation Transformation – Core Internal Organisation Areas September 27, 2016 45 • Organisation transformation is concerned with changes in one or more of these areas and co- ordinating changes across these areas to deliver the greatest benefit Organisation Transformation Location and Offices Business Processes Technology, Infrastructure and Communications Applications and Systems Information and Data Organisation and Structure
  46. 46. Dimensions Of Organisation Transformation • Business Oriented Dimensions Of Change − Location and Offices – existing and new locations and facilities of the organisation, their types and functions and the principles that govern the selection of new locations − Business Processes – current and future business process definitions, requirements, characteristics, performance − Organisation and Structure – organisation resources and arrangement, business unit, function and team structures and composition, relationships, reporting and management, roles and skills • Technology Oriented Dimensions Of Change − Technology, Infrastructure and Communications – current and future technical infrastructure including security, constraints, standards, technology trends, characteristics, performance requirements − Applications and Systems – current and future applications and systems, characteristics, constraints, assumptions, requirements, design principles, interface standards, connectivity to business processes − Information and Data – data and information architecture, data integration, master and reference data, data access and management September 27, 2016 46
  47. 47. Organisation Transformation Journey September 27, 2016 47 Journey Is A Sequence Of Changes Along The Core Dimensions Of Organisation Transformation
  48. 48. Complexity Factors In Organisation Transformation September 27, 2016 48
  49. 49. Organisation Transformation And Information Technology • IT underpins successful and effective organisation transformation • Transformation will involve new and changes to existing solutions − An effective and high-performing solution design function is necessary • Solution design involves identifying the scope of the entire solution including all its components and the required technology and operational changes • Solution design needs to take account of all solution components in order to quantify the true scope of the effort needed to implement the solution September 27, 2016 49
  50. 50. Organisation Transformation And IT Alignment September 27, 2016 50 Business Needs Market Changes Regulatory Changes Customer Requirements Organisational Changes IT Function Underlying Solution Delivery And Operation Enablement Structure Solution Design And Delivery Business And IT Alignment New Products/ Services Competitive Pressures
  51. 51. Digital Transformation As An Example Of Organisation Transformation September 27, 2016 51 Digital transformation is about moving the organisation from one that is internally focussed around its siloed structures: To one that is focussed on customer (external party) straight-through interactions: Move to customer service orientation
  52. 52. Complexity Factors In Digital Transformation September 27, 2016 52
  53. 53. Getting Digital Transformation Right Means … September 27, 2016 53 Greater Efficiency Reduced Cost Increased Agility Improved Competitive Positioning Greater Responsiveness Increased Customer Satisfaction Increased Customer Retention Increased Ability To Provide Innovative Products And Services To Customers And Partners Across Multiple Channels
  54. 54. Getting Digital Transformation Wrong Means … September 27, 2016 54 Wasted Investment Lost Revenue And Profits Loss Of Customers Unfulfilled ExpectationsWasted Resources Frustrated Customers And Employees Loss Of Competitive Positioning Wasted Time and Lost Opportunity Cost
  55. 55. Digital Transformation And Technology Enablement Iceberg September 27, 2016 55 In Order to Extend and Expose Capabilities and Business Processes Outside the Organisation … … You Will Need a Substantial Amount of Enabling Technology, Systems, Resources and Supporting Processes and Organisation Change Successful Digital Operations Require Investment and Commitment
  56. 56. Digital Transformation And Solution Design • Digital transformation involves designing and implementing solutions across a wide range of application and system areas September 27, 2016 56 External Party Interaction Zones, Channels and Facilities Security, Identity , Access and Profile Management Responsive Infrastructure Digital Specific Applications and Tools Internal Interaction Management Integration Operational and Business Systems Applications Delivery and Management Tools and Frameworks System Development, Deployment and Management
  57. 57. Digital Transformation And Solution Design • Large number of new and changes to existing solutions and systems needed to achieve transformation requires an optimised and efficient solution design process and associated team September 27, 2016 57
  58. 58. Solution Design September 27, 2016 58 Conway’s Law Describes Limitations In The Way Organisations Design Systems Cognitive Diversity Concept That Teams With Diversity In Perspective And Experience Develop Better Solutions To Problems Than Homogenous Teams Of High Achievers Organisation Transformation Designing And Implementing New Organisation Structures And Processes And Supporting And Enabling Solutions And Technologies Effective Solution Design Capability Is Needed To Achieve Transformation Creates Awareness Of And Describes Organisation Limitations To Achieving Effective Solution Cognitive Diversity Enables Better Solution Identification Describes Organisation Limitations In Solution Design An Approach To Overcoming The Limitations Described In Conway’s Law Solution Design Approach To Designing Solutions That Meet The Needs Of The Business And Deliver Business Benefits
  59. 59. Solution Design • An effective solution design and architecture function requires the capability to identify the scope of the entire solution including all its components and the required technology and operational changes September 27, 2016 59
  60. 60. Being Good At Solution Design Means • Solutions are defined, designed and delivered in a reliable, stable and innovative way to ensure that cost, time, required functionality and quality are constantly optimised to meet the needs of the business • Good solution design means being aware of all the options and selecting the most appropriate one subject to all constraints • Good solution design means avoiding all the conscious and unconscious biases that lead to bad solutions • Doing the right thinks and doing them the right way September 27, 2016 60
  61. 61. Solution Design And Cognitive Diversity • A cognitively diverse team designs better solutions September 27, 2016 61
  62. 62. Characteristics Of A Good Design Process And Team • Awareness of factors such as Cognitive Bias, Strategic Misrepresentation, Planning Fallacy, Optimism Bias, Focalism and Groupthink and their characteristics and consequences • Neutral leader with no explicit expression of preferences • Encouragement of open inquiry • Keep minds open • Look for gaps in solution • Consider alternatives including unpopular ones • Separate design function into sub-groups working on alternatives • Consider doubts after consensus • Include outside experts • Discuss preliminary decisions with individuals • Ask for viewpoints different from your own • Solicit opinions from less outspoken people September 27, 2016 62
  63. 63. Solution Design Process September 27, 2016 63 Initial Concept Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Formal Statement Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Stakeholder Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Architecture Design and Specification Elicit Stakeholder Requirements Formalise Stakeholder Requirements Define Solution Requirements Analyse Solution Requirements Define Solution Architecture and Design Analyse, Evaluate and Refine Solution Architecture Implementation Project Initial Architecture Review and Options
  64. 64. Solution Design Process • Each stage uses the output from the previous stage as an input • Detail is refined, extended and elaborated on in successive stages September 27, 2016 64 Initial Concept Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Formal Statement Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Stakeholder Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Architecture Design and Specification Implementation Project Initial Architecture Review and Options
  65. 65. Solution Design Process Stage Scope Initial Concept Of Need/ Goal/ Objective The business have an idea for a solution based on an apparent need to solve a problem, to do what is currently not possible, to react or respond to an external demand or to be able to achieve a new objective. Formal Statement Of Need/ Goal/ Objective This formalises the initial concept to introduce greater consistency and detail. It serves to understand the business, objectives, purposes and potential organisational impacts. It describes what the ideal solution will do. It also identifies the high-level potential system impacts. Initial Architecture Review and Options This uses the formal statement of need to create an initial high-level view of the overall solution, its new and existing systems and applications components, the required functionality, their interfaces, the required processes and the business functions impacted. This provides a container for the requirements and a vision for the solution. Stakeholder Requirements Collection and Specification This uses this initial architectural review output in a structured way to elicit and formalise the set of stakeholder requirements across the dimensions of functionality and processes. Solution Requirements Collection and Specification The solution requirements specification is a fuller, more detailed and elaborated set of solution requirements encompassing all the solution components. This includes the requirements explicitly identified by stakeholders and the implied requirements. Solution Architecture Design and Specification This is the detailed solution specification derived from the stakeholder and solution requirements. Implementation Project This uses the detailed solution specification to act as an input to project definition and to create a realistic implementation plan, schedule, set of costs and required resources. September 27, 2016 65
  66. 66. Solution Design Process • There is a decision point after each stage where a decision is made if it is worthwhile to proceed to the next stage September 27, 2016 66 Initial Concept Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Formal Statement Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Stakeholder Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Architecture Design and Specification Implementation Project Initial Architecture Review and Options Decision Points
  67. 67. Solution Design Process • Not all concepts make it all the way to implementation • Process needs to accommodate this • Do as little as possible to achieve as much as possible to make an informed decision on whether and how to proceed to the next stage in the solution journey September 27, 2016 67 Initial Concept Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Formal Statement Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Stakeholder Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Architecture Design and Specification Implementation Project Initial Architecture Review and Options
  68. 68. Solution Design Process - Iterations • Solution design process is not necessarily linear • Stages can be iterated a number of times to different levels of detail September 27, 2016 68 Initial Concept Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Formal Statement Of Need/ Goal/ Objective Stakeholder Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Requirements Collection and Specification Solution Architecture Design and Specification Implementation Project Initial Architecture Review and Options
  69. 69. Conway's Law, Cognitive Diversity, Organisation Transformation And Solution Design September 27, 2016 69 Conway’s Law Describes Limitations In The Way Organisations Design Systems Cognitive Diversity Concept That Teams With Diversity In Perspective And Experience Develop Better Solutions To Problems Than Homogenous Teams Of High Achievers Organisation Transformation Designing And Implementing New Organisation Structures And Processes And Supporting And Enabling Solutions And Technologies Solution Design Approach To Designing Solutions That Meet The Needs Of The Business And Deliver Business Benefits Design Target Transformation Architecture And Design Systems And Solutions To Achieve Transformation Improve System And Solution Design And Associated Usability And Utility Implement Cognitive Diversity To Overcome Inherent Organisational Constraints
  70. 70. Summary • Conway’s Law describes limitations that all too frequently arise in the organisation’s solution design process and function • Achieving appropriate cognitive diversity within the organisation’s solution design function can eliminate the circumstances that cause Conway’s Law to come into effect • Successful organisation transformation initiatives such as digital transformation require a high-performing solution design function • Having the insight to know what solution design problems can arise and how they can be fixed will help avoid them September 27, 2016 70
  71. 71. More Information Alan McSweeney http://ie.linkedin.com/in/alanmcsweeney September 27, 2016 71

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