Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Senior Management don't get AGILE.

On a recent Twitter discussion a tweeter was complaining about senior engagement and asking where senior managers get their information and attitude about AGILE.

I wrote back and said that software developments whatever they are are so low down in the weeds that C level exec have very little knowledge and interest.

Upward selling of methodologies is always a looser's game and we focus too much of the latest fad or trend ; this is particularly a problem in the technology space. It stems from an over introspective view of what we do and an over inflated importance in terms of tactical issues in the bigger picture.

In the echo chamber where everyone is doing and saying the same then there is little perception that others outside of our world just don't see things as importantly as we do.

Focus on what methods deliver - outputs-  not on selling the brand of the methodology. I have seen too much of people evangelizing about one method or another,  whether it is Six Sigma , Lean or Agile, or anything else for that matter, it is just counterproductive. So many change initiatives start with selling some silver bullet approach rather than getting on with delivering quality outputs.

Forget the selling the method, the training and the overview pitches just use it to do good things - that is what earns respect; the  pay rises and bonuses will follow.


Monday, 28 January 2019

Strategy a difficult lesson.

Traditional strategy theories based on the VMOST type approach and those of Porter and Mintzberg present unconvincing output among students.  Mission, goals and vision are easily stated but the problem comes when trying to teach people to convert these into meaningful actions. There seems to be a missing link ,a gulf if you like, between traditional corporate strategy statements and operating model design.

The development of the business model canvas helps here greatly but it still fails to appear in the main textbooks that stick to the older strategic planning tools and theories.

The business model and the expansion of the "how to" part of that model - the operating model is key.

What we need to do is to try to connect up the steps in "strategy to reality" or "strategy to execution" from these currently isolated separate steps into a more continuous development that logically takes us through iterative developing steps towards a sensible outcome that is meaningful in both strategic and day to day terms.

The four steps to success - strategy operating model development implementation and control need to have tools and techniques that create a much more visible end to end process rather than being stuck in their own worlds.

Strategists, architects, project managers and finally the operational managers ,who have to realise the strategy day to day,  all talk different languages and use different approaches that seem to pull everyone in towards the middle of their own area of expertise.

This year we hope to expand on this thinking as we develop a strategy to execution storyboard to help people link strategy through to business as usual using a set of simple tools and approaches.

I have been trialing these ideas with our third year undergraduate students who are studying the UK's only specialist degree in insurance. The Strategic Management Module has given me a great opportunity as a lecturer to try to stitch the parts together and make some sense of the stages that traditionally are taught in a separate way.

I will keep you posted!

Sunday, 6 January 2019

2019 A New Year and a promise.to post more.

This blog has been running for since 2013 and I should post more, I know. It is easy to forget or focus on other things. So let me start the year with better intentions with a new brief post.

As I start 2019 I see  reduction in the interest in business architecture as a term and a discipline as in recent years it seems unfortunately to have been absorbed and assimilated by the "Borg" of I.T. Self important guilds and bodies have just, to be frank,  certificated it to death.

What is clear though is that the underlying techniques and tools still are in demand, but from business people in operations and from elsewhere outside of the I .T. department. In reality the term business architecture is not in their vocabulary at all but what they do is. I suppose in truth it doesn't really matter as we should not be marketing a discipline or role as such, which has been quite common over the years, but what is important is the promotion of the right type of good solid design methods.

Marketing the discipline has passed; let us now focus on the outcomes and how to achieve those outcomes instead.


  1. What is the future operation going to look like and why? 
  2. How do I communicate why we are moving this way? 
  3. How do I analyse this poorly presented strategy?
  4. How do I avoid transformation failure and unnecessary expenditure?
  5. Are buzzword topics  necessary or are they a distraction?
  6. How do I plan what to build and when?
Some key questions, a sample set among many others,   that will be answered in 2019.

Happy New Year.....



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.