7 years, 3 months ago

Found In Design unBook

Please take a look at my new unBook the sequel to Lost In Translation:What’s This Blog About? The Problem with Processes: The Reprise Ten Minutes More On VPEC-T Navigating VPEC-T The Four Focus AreasThe Change Design ToolboxPlease f…

7 years, 3 months ago

The Problem with Processes: The Reprise – FiD post

This is a slightly rewritten version of the first public airing of the VPEC-T concept. That was over 10 years ago – it now it has a life of its own, it is, however, the foundation on which Lost In Translationwas written, and apparent in Found In Design. Please take a look and send me your comments. Thanks Nigel.

7 years, 3 months ago

The Problem with Processes: The Reprise – FiD post

This is a slightly rewritten version of the first public airing of the VPEC-T concept. That was over 10 years ago – it now it has a life of its own, it is, however, the foundation on which Lost In Translationwas written, and apparent in Found In Design. Please take a look and send me your comments. Thanks Nigel.

7 years, 3 months ago

Should ‘GOODNESS” replace the word “GOVERNANCE”?

I believe we need rethink the Enterprise Architecture practice. I favour starting from a ‘Systems Thinking’ foundation, and therefore go back to John Boyd’s OODA loop:

and Dan Ward’s Simplicity Cycle.

Please take a look at this video to give the rest of this post a bit of context:

Should  ‘GOODNESS” replace the word “GOVERNANCE” in the new order of things?

As a starting point. I believe by standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants of those who originated and develop System Thinking, Cybernetics, Complexity Theory and Design Thinking will help us re-invent EA.  Personally, no longer call myself an Enterprise Architect – I prefer the title Change Designer – why? Because it simply describes what I do and I can explain it to C-Levels in just a few words entirely focused on business outcomes, stages in the journey and risks & IRACIS (IR: improved revenue, AC: avoid cost & IS: improve service).

Update 0603/17

Can we look to the Unicorns for inspiration? I recall a discussion I had with a few Silicon Valley types at OSCON London recently. I asked a very genuine question:

“How do the likes of Netflix, Paypal, Uber etc. approach Governance?”

The answer: “We don’t use that word, in Silicon Valley!”

This got me thinking; surely things must be driven towards some sort of order? And then, maybe my mental model was wrong. Maybe if I put on my “Complex Adaptive” hat (ref. Cynefin), I will see that the architecture must evolve, in chunks of context specific outcomes, over time. And in this approach, is “Goodness” ( a la Dan Ward above) the key measure of alignment with the outcome?; in a Complex system, the bad are attenuated, and the good amplified – this is how, useful (fit-for-purpose), solutions evolve. So, maybe, it’s not about driving things to a predetermined outcome; maybe instead, it’s about orchestrating and encouraging adoption of practice that delivers context-specific “goodness” (in Dan Ward’s sense of the word).

It strikes me that there appears to be a close relationship between Dand Ward’s Complexity/Goodness model (describe in the video above) to this one:

Although ‘User Happiness” is only one context: a Value System. Another might be ‘The Regulator’. Is it true, however, that focusing on simplicity, and context-specific “Goodness”, are we more likely to satisfy both?

Hence my question – Should “GOODNESS” replace “GOVERNANCE”? Or, indeed, is this what they already do in Silicon Valley? I’m sure there’s much more to understand – but I think it’s a good question for debate!

Please follow the tags #foundindesign #horsesunicorns on Twitter for more discussion on this and related topics.

7 years, 3 months ago

5Di – Our Operating Model

or how we aim to grow our trees together.


Up until recently, 5Di Ltd. was the commercial vehicle for my Change Design and Advisory services. This is changing as I write; 5Di will become a ‘Team’ within the next few weeks. I’m not sure how exactly all the pieces will fall into place, but I am eating my own dog food; experiment, include, listen to feedback, and evolve.

Before I explain the specifics, I’d ask that you watch a few of the videos here to see and hear where much of the inspiration for our operating model comes from:


Chuck Blakeman Crankset:

Katz Kiely: – BBC Radio 4 interview (audio only).

Dan Ward – all of his series are great, but if you’re short on time, just watch the first and last for now:

The full set:

Back to 5Di, we have a ‘T’ shape service portfolio; The T-bar is the Change Design journey described in the Found In Design un-book and the T-column are technology services focused on Cloud-Native architectures and integration.

Our principles are:
  • Keep things simple as possible
  • Work on interesting projects
  • Deliver value for money
  • Share rewards
  • Be clear, concise and transparent.

We can deliver Value-for-Money.
All 5Di consultants have tons of real-world experience and many have worked for Big-Five or similar – so we know how much they charge for this type of service and,  the other tricks they pull which we will avoid (like land-and-expand etc.). As a rough estimate, I’d say we will come in at less that 30% of large traditional consulting firms.

Because our fees are at least 40% cheaper for the same level of skill/expertise and we deliver value faster (fewer charged days) because we’re not motivated to drag-things-out with large teams. We have no ‘bench’ to sell.

5Di’s business model is simple:
  • We make sure all in the 5Di team get a good day-rate compared to them going to market individually ‘contracting’.
  • We make a reasonable markup on the fee, but then everybody gets a slice of 5Di’s year-end profits.
  • We are like-minds who *want* to work with each other (most of us have in the past).
  • We are all motivated to do a great job for the client – all our work is through referral.
  • As a team we attract other great talents through our collective personal network – I’m getting requests to join the 5Di family weekly.

All this will be explained (using our principles!) on the 5Di website soon. The current site is now horribly out-of-date, rather messy, and way too wordy – we promise a much better one!


7 years, 4 months ago

First Trial of the VPEC-T Navigation Map

This week’s update: We ran the 2nd two-hour session last week and have the 3rd and last iteration scheduled for the coming week. Continuing to get positive feedback on the map. It does seem to help provoke richer discussion and stimulate thoughts.  The client is feeling increasingly confident that we’ve captured the main aspects of the change programme ahead of them, and specifically, that we will find & explore all:

  • Material risks
  • The Major Transition States – with objective/outcomes at each
  • Core principles for the transition
  • Programme work streams
  • Critical cross-project dependencies
  • Crucial trust relationships
  • End-state clarity.

    Next week will move the focus towards the JOIN and SLICE cycles. I expect greater involvement with the PMO and the Business Analysts working on the detailed/costed Business Case, over the next two weeks, will move the focus to ARRANGE by the end of March. To quote Dan Ward: we will have then completed “Start before we start” (recommend watch his Simplicity Cycle videos).

    Keeping things simple, pragmatic & easy-to-understand has been key. The antithesis of a Big-Five approach, or a traditional bloated “methodology/framework” #EntArch style: Fast, simple, relevant, and at a fraction of the cost!


    On Thursday last, I ran a VPEC-T workshop using the new VPEC-T Navigation Map. The workshop lasted 4 hours, and the client now wants another two 4 hour sessions. The new map received positive feedback. According to one participant:

    “The map really helped us explore each area and triggered useful thoughts”.

    This is in the 2nd iteration of FIND, JOIN, SLICE. We will complete 3 iterations of all Four Focus Areas  (including ARRANGE) within the next 2-3 weeks. This session was part of the design of a circa $4M change programme over next 18 months. We will be using many of the FiD toolset including (but not limited to):
    The map:

    7 years, 4 months ago

    WTF is a Dyslexic Polymath?

    One Saturday last January, my wife and I were visiting my cousin Andy and his family for the weekend. He and I were in his kitchen; me bending his ear about my new ‘Found In Design’ un-book idea, while he cooked breakfast.

    Andy’s a smart cookie who works for Ricardo UK and someone I love to test ideas with. After ten minutes of me machine-gunning my thoughts at Andy, he rested the spatula in the frying pan and turned to face me.

    “Look, Nige, you’re a great storyteller, and I like your ideas, you know I do use one of your thinking tools, but isn’t this stuff just common sense”?

    I paused for a moment mid-stream, at first not sure whether to be insulted or pleased. I decided pleased – and with a smile retorted with a quote from Voltaire:

    “Why is common sense, not so common”?

    Andy glanced back down at the pan, and sighed.  He had a moment of reflection; his inner voice telling him that lives with that reality daily. I’d stated the obvious again! 

    He glanced over, and with a withered smile, replied:

    “Good, point…” and added,  “Would you like a sausage with your breakfast?”


    A few days later I was recounting the conversation with Andy to a friend. Once I’d finished, she paused for a moment, and then laughed loudly – looking me square in the eye:

    “I know exactly what he means.  It often seems to me that you end up stating the ‘bleeding obvious’, but when I think about it, it wasn’t actually obvious before you started babbling on”.

    She then added:

    “I think it’s the way your weird ‘dyslexic polymath’ brain works – you seem to see simple patterns that the rest of us don’t see. And when tell us a story that explains one of them, they just do seem like common sense”!

    “Oh, thanks”, I said flatly,  feeling a bit insulted, and confused.

    I guess I’ve always been embarrassed about my dyslexia. This stems from unhelpful, “old-school”, teachers and, frankly, a fairly unsupportive father (who freely admits now he made a bit of a hash of parenting me). Mum, however, was different she helped me understand Shakespeare’s plays through Lambs Tales and encouraged me to write poetry, lyrics & music. She helped me tell my stories.

    So when my friend called out my dyslexia, I felt very awkward at first. But then I realised, she had a point; the way my brain is wired does help me see things a bit differently. And I suppose my fanaticism over SIMPLICITY and PATTERN seeking might be directly related to dyslexia. I think they might be the coping mechanism I’ve used to survive, and thrive, despite my lack of academic qualification. So maybe being a ‘Thicko” isn’t so bad after all; maybe weirdly-wired misfits can help by stating the “bleeding obvious”!


    Oh, and, by the way, once I’d looked up ‘polymath’ I decided I would buy my friend a pint next time I saw her.