13 years, 8 months ago

What Business Architecture and Pudding Have in Common

(this is a response to the recent article in Architecture and Governance Magazine titled ‘Archimate: Adding Value to TOGAF’ – registration required.)

I was walking down the hall last week when the VP of Finance stopped me and asked me for my latest BPMN and Archimate diagrams for the “X” project that was going to revamp the marketing campaign software. He wanted the diagrams on his desk as soon as possible. If this sounds likely then you and I have probably had different work experiences, not to mention career paths.

I would suggest that the vignette in the previous paragraph is as likely as finding a shovel in Louis XV’s ballroom. So why is it that the good folks at TOGAF and Archimate keep trotting out Archimate viewpoints for EA and Business Architecture?

My answer would be that they’re fascinated by the tools of proof. These tools like Archimate, BPMN, UML are some of my favorite tools. But really, to expect others to have the same enthusiasm is unrealistic.

The business people that I know just don’t care about the actual diagrams although they might be interested in the proof or at least the fact that I have some proof in my pocket somewhere. I’m talking here about the sponsors, the people with the ultimate financial authority, the P&L owners, the ones sponsoring the business architecture (strategy) assignment.

If you’re thinking, “they should be interested” or that “we’ll educate them regarding our super great notation so that we can communicate” then I have to suggest you’ve missed the mark already.

No, the folks I know just want verify that I understand their issues. How I talk to them is critical because they listen to me repeat back to them my own understanding prior to the presentation of strategy options. I do use models behind the scenes to verify my understanding and to provide a backbone to my strategic chat but I talk to the operational people to acquire that understanding. By the way, the operational people are interested in the proof side of the equation but they aren’t the ones making the investment decision.

So the tools of proof are half the story? Well, actually they represent 80% of the work in business architecture. They just don’t show up in the strategy part of the presentation. Actually they don’t show up in the presentation at all, period. But if the tools of proof occupy 80% of the strategy analysis maybe that’s why architecture centric organizations like to call their tools “Business Architecture”. But that is doing what the recruiters do — everything is business architecture to that crowd.

My advice is to make an adjustment where notations are concerned. Keep the details in the background and not the foreground and if you’re selling Business Architecture don’t talk about the tools of proof to your sponsor unless they ask.

To learn more about keeping the proof in the pudding see our Capability Based Business Architecture curriculum here.