Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The Cheshire Cat and Operating Models

On reviewing an article on operating model choices - I researched a phrase which is a slight mis-quote from Lewis Carroll - 
‘if you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there’.

It describes the futility of operating model work without strategic direction. It was used to suggest a good strategy is essential prior to design. The real passage has a similar meaning and is apt.

‘Cheshire Puss,’ she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. 

‘Come, it’s pleased so far,’ thought Alice, and she went on. ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

‘—so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.

‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’

Pretty much sums up a lot of business change – enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

T34 Poznan (Posen-Ferstung) Poland. Military Capability

When looking at kit like this you start to think about capabilities in a different light. Military analogies and historical case studies help things make a lot more sense to "services" business people, steeped in process thinking, who often struggle with the capability modelling concept. The ability to tackle enemy heavy armour reliably on the Eastern Front WWII , cheaply and in quantity was what made the T34 a capability supporting asset; a war winning weapon for the soviets.  Looking at battle field examples in the field - Poznan Poland-  rather than prepared examples given to the west, (such as those specimens at Bovington (Dorset)) shows the fit for purpose finish in its true form.  The build speed for a T34 was many times faster than its German rivals and the cost many times lower than the iconic Tiger II. Simpler, easier to maintain, cheaper and faster to deploy the technology backed up by a superior production system won the day. T34 Poznan (Posen-Ferstung) Poland.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Process mapping is not always universally a good thing.

Process management is promoted as the answer to most operational difficulties. Get stuff mapped, understand the measures that deliver what stakeholders required and reduce the variability. Tool vendors "lap this up" and provide repositories and mapping tools to do the job plus add-ons in some cases to create business architectures - great.

Like many things it all becomes, in some cases a bit too much, where the above approach is preached by some as the only way - basically if you don't do this you don't know what your are doing! It becomes simplistic with mantras like " if you can't measure it you can't measure it "," Your standards aren't standards" that doesn't comply with **BPMN 2.0 so it isn't professional process mapping. and so on.

The approach described is probably fine in high volume low variety environments where doing the same thing the same way makes measurement and outcomes consistent. Quality systems require compliance to documented processes and systems; this is all wrapped up in this *BPM paradigm.

However what about environments where the service provided is nearly always different every time a client pulls value? Does it then make sense to map processes and engage the BPM way of doing things. Process mapping implicit knowledge of professional knowledge workers is pretty hard - I have tried a few times over the years and it is a bit pointless as an exercise I can tell you!

So what is the message here?

The point I am making is that  methods and techniques have to be appropriate and just because you are an expert in one method or another don't get drawn into thinking that it is the only way and please stop,  reflect  on what you are saying because some of the evangelism we see in some methodologies today is highly counterproductive.

 AGILE, Six Sigma, Scrum, Prince 2 to name a few candidates for consideration- I am sure readers can think of others where it has all got a bit too much.

*BPM Business Process Management
** BPMN Business Process Mapping Notation Version 2.0.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

New Canvas

The Book Available from Amazon.
The book operating model canvas written by Andrew Campbell et all and  published last year by Van Haren, it is a fine colourful read, however it needs more substance behind its introductory text of the zones of the POLISM framework. In order to fill this gap Kirill Deverenski and myself, with permission of the author,  have been writing some supporting articles - one for each zone.

The operating model canvas seeks to expand the left hand side of the now Osterwalder's fairly famous Business Model Canvas by providing a pull out and replace plugin for: Supplier, Key Activities and Key Resources.

In essence  these pieces try to explain the role of tracing value through the model and flesh out the various things you need to think about and provide some steps for each zone. please see.


We hope to complete the series soon with the Information Zone. This material and the thinking behind it support our: How to use the Operating Model INFORMATION ZONE Now OUT! SEPT 18.

el Canvas Course available for booking for corporate groups.  It may well also result in a work book in 2019  - we shall see.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Standards in Business Archecture - "A Land Grab" ?

The other day I came across a list of myths about business architecture  that were being dispatched into the "shredder" with vigour.

One myth that was being torn down was.

“There is no commonly defined approach to business architecture”.

I was really unhappy about the language being used and the message being promoted:

The myth was dismissed by saying: Yes there is! It is well defined and used across the world, it goes on to say that: those that claim otherwise -saying “business architecture is an art not a science - are self-serving and prolonging the journey to achieving business architectural value” Wow….

A pretty radical claim– perhaps a bit arrogant - don’t you think?

In other words we know what business architecture is; we created the standards and everyone else outside of our club can just go away.

This would be a more accurate and genuine statement:

“There are organisations who publish proprietary methodologies for the application of business architecture.”  

There is nothing wrong with the standards that this group is promoting, in fact most of what they say is pretty sensible. What is objectionable is the idea that this then becomes the so called de-facto standard.  It is a standard - yes - but to claim it as a common standard - the only way- is "pushing the envelope".

Are we saying that  - "if you don’t use these standards or methods then you not doing business architecture?" Are we constraining business architecture by trying to get everyone to produce the same stuff? I would argue yes - many other agree too.

On another occasion I saw a post saying 
“we had a consultancy in here that produced a slide deck that didn’t conform to standards” -

as if this was a heinous crime. In reality why would I pay high day rates to get standard materials? I want consultants to be innovative and present new ways of thinking and ways of communicating messages.

On reading the myths and the proposed approach business architecture must therefore mean a much tighter environment that I and many I associate with think. For example I know one individual that dislikes capability maps intensely and he thinks value chains are they way to go; is he less of a business architect than others? In fact this  individual is a substantial strategy author with many books to his name and years of experience; but if he doesn't use capability mapping then this isn't business architecture say the standards body!

Many colleagues find that their business stakeholders don’t like the artefacts that these so called standards produce and therefore produce different materials which are artistically crafted to communicate skilfully their messages. They use their skills to craft models and diagrams to satisfy messages and client needs. 

Please note the use of the phrase “artistically crafted” so from their perspective is business architecture and art or a science? Actually the answer is probably a mix of the two.

There are two forces at work here: standardisation and innovation and your view will probably be different depending which camp you sit in:

  • If you are an I.T. person looking outwards to get clarity from the business and then communicating those findings back to your software developers then standards are great. Observe, record and populate the standards.Same format, same look; consistency is great for coders and analysts all of whom know the language and taxonomy – super. 
  • However if you are shaping a change and need to select techniques and innovate or motivate others to identify requirements, messages and present pictures of the future then standards get in the way.
Let us postulate which group the standards body originate from?

If I have an operating model that shows how the organisation works to create value for customers and it is done using Domains of Change: POLISM or CCPPOLDAT or some other construct; is that now not business architecture. Perhaps my definition is too broad?

Some say The I.T and project management world has been ruined by methodology based standards, accreditation and certification. Only last month articles were on LinkedIn saying PMP and Prince2 were the worst thing that has happened to PM, devaluing the profession and turning project managers into administrators.    Why has this happened?

“Surprise - Surprise” Money. Professional Associations, Clubs, Guilds and the like have membership fees, they run accreditation and certification programmes - more fees. 

They appoint and certify training organisations - more fees. They work with software vendors to produce tools that work to the standards - licensing fees and so it goes on.

Fine create a methodology to sell and promote – carry on please - but have the courtesy to promote it as it is a proprietary approach not as a panacea or universal standard.