5 Questions To Ask About Enterprise Architecture (EA)

In 1987, John Zachman published an article in the IBM Systems Journal called A Framework for Information Systems Architecture which laid the formalized foundation of Enterprise Architecture. In the 1990s, John Zachman further develop the idea to classify, organize and understand an organization by creating The Zachman Framework™. The Zachman Framework™ talks about understanding an organization in terms of:

  1. Data
  2. Function
  3. Network
  4. People
  5. Time
  6. Motivation

Today, the field of Enterprise Architecture (EA) also draws from the fields of Engineering, Computer Science, Business Administration, Operations Research, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Public Administration, and Management. Due to the advancements and inclusion of various fields, the definition of what EA is continues to evolve depending upon if you are a practitioner, academic, vendor or government but the basic premise of Enterprise Architecture is to holistically understand the entire organization to make management decisions.

In addition to The Zachman Framework™, there are many other EA frameworks that have emerged over the years to help an organization understanding where they are (current state or as-is), where they want to be (future state or to-be) and what steps (transitions) they should take to get to the future. Some of these EA frameworks include:

  1. The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)
  2. Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF)
  3. Department of Defense Enterprise Architecture Framework (DoDAF)

To be clear, EA is not only about frameworks but its also about the EA methodology, tools, artifacts, and best practices. As you develop EA within your organization, you will realize that not all frameworks and tools would fit perfectly but it is a continuous improvement over time. Regardless of the size of the organization, EA can help create a holistic thinking mentality, optimize business processes and improve decision-making.

By now you might be thinking that of course, EA is the answer to your woes. But hold on! Before you jump into EA, it is critical to know: 1) The term EA and its jargon can confuse people, 2) EA is about the entire enterprise (aka organization) and not about just certain functions of the organization, 3) People working under the EA function should have a complete grasp of Business operations and IT capabilities, 4) EA is not an IT activity and 5) EA’s purpose is to communicate what is happening and what could happen.

For organizations, EA is like an overarching umbrella which when used effectively can have a profound impact but if used incorrectly can turn into a burden to carry. Keeping these things in mind, let’s ask the following questions:

Today

Tomorrow

Who is demanding the need for EA and who is creating it?

Who should be demanding a need for EA and who should be creating it?
What if EA fails?What should happen when EA fails?
Where EA is helping in decision-making?Where EA should help in decision-making?
When EA artifacts are being collected?When should EA artifacts be collected?
Why EA is being used?

Why EA should be used?

As we can see, whoever sees a need for EA matters, EA champions within various organizational functions matters, EA execution matters, EA measurement matters and EA best practices for organizational-wide improvement matters. It should be noted that all organizations do EA in some way (unformalized, semi-formalized or fully formalized).

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5 Questions to Ask About Your Organization’s Execution

In previous blog posts, I have given you thoughts on how factors such as Strategy, Politics, Innovation, and Culture can be used to achieve Business Transformation in your organization. Today, I am going to talk about how these factors need Execution to be successful.

Generally speaking, Execution is the act of doing or performing something. In terms of the organization, Execution also means measuring performance at the individual and organizational levels. This implies that individual performance at the executive, middle management and front-line employee levels is directly linked to the organization’s overall transformation. Having said that, most organizations haven’t grasped this idea or are slow to adapt (hence are being disrupted). Some of the biggest mistakes organizations make in terms of Execution are:

  1. There are no direct links and steps between Strategy and Execution
  2. Effects of Strategy, Politics, Innovation, and Culture aren’t measured
  3. Execution can be confusing (e.g., Quality vs. Speed)

To create an organization that can efficiently and effectively perform Execution, there should be direct links between vision, mission statement, business objectives, policy, plans of action, internal boundaries, external influences, new ideas/devices/methods, biases and of course measurements of all of this to create a baseline of where the organization is and where the organization wants to be. All of this is a lot of work but it will give you a glimpse into the ‘character’ of your organization. Don’t do this alone and don’t create a huge team to do it either. Begin by asking the following questions from different people inside and outside your organization to get an understanding of what is really going on and then share those answers:

Strategic Perspectives on Execution::

  Today

Tomorrow

1. Who is incentivized at the executive level to directly link and measure the performance of Strategy, Politics, Innovation, Culture to Execution? Who should be incentivized at the executive level to directly link and measure the performance of Strategy, Politics, Innovation, Culture to Execution?
2. What governance structures are in place to link and measure strategy creation, holistic vs. specific unit/function/team strategic needs, the flow of innovative ideas and cultural transformation to Execution? What governance structures should be placed to link and measure strategy creation, holistic vs. specific unit/function/team strategic needs, the flow of innovative ideas and cultural transformation to Execution?
3. Where is technology being used to link and measure strategy development, political effects, help innovation and transforming the culture to Execution? Where should technology be used to link and measure strategy development, political effects, help innovation and transforming the culture to Execution?
4. When and how often strategic objectives, political motivations, innovation needs and cultural objectives communicated are linked and measured? When and how often should strategic objectives, political motivations, innovation needs and cultural objectives communicated be linked and measured?
5. Why holistic strategy development, political understanding, views on innovation and cultural transformation is linked and measured? Why holistic strategy development, political understanding, views on innovation and cultural transformation should be linked and measured?

Tactical Perspectives on Execution:

  Today  Tomorrow
1. Who is incentivized at the middle management level to directly link and measure feedback on strategy, understanding politics, perceived innovation gains and cultural transformation champions to Execution? Who should be incentivized at the middle management level to directly link and measure feedback on strategy, understanding politics, perceived innovation gains and cultural transformation champions to Execution?
2. What business units, functional areas, and teams are included to link and measure strategy development, political implications, innovative acts and cultural transformation to Execution? What business units, functional areas, and teams should be included to link and measure strategy development, political implications, innovative acts and cultural transformation to Execution?
3. Where is technology being linked and measuring understanding of strategy development processes, deciphering politics, innovation processes and cultural transformation hinderance to Execution? Where should technology link and measure understanding of strategy development processes, decipher politics, innovation processes and cultural transformation hinderance to Execution?
4. When are strategic objectives communications, political motivations, innovation alignment communications, and cultural transformation communications linked and measured in regards to Execution? When should strategic objectives communications, political motivations, innovation alignment communications, and cultural transformation communications be linked and measured in regards to Execution?
5. Why it is important to link and measure the tactical implications of strategy, politics, innovation, and culture to Execution? Why should it be important to link and measure the tactical implications of strategy, politics, innovation, and culture to Execution?

Operational Perspectives on Execution:

  Today Tomorrow
1. Who sees the linking and measurement of strategy development processes, politics, innovation and cultural transformation to Execution as an obstacle? Who should see the linking and measurement of strategy development processes, politics, innovation and cultural transformation to Execution as an obstacle?
2. What links and measurements are there between business processes, power plays, actual vs. perceived innovation and organizational culture to the overall Execution? What links and measurements should be there between business processes, power plays, actual vs. perceived innovation and organizational culture to the overall Execution?
3. Where does technology enhance/diminish your understanding of strategy, politics, innovation, and culture when it comes time for Execution? Where should technology enhance/diminish your understanding of strategy, politics, innovation, and culture when it comes time for Execution?
4. When are the impacts of strategic objectives, strategy development processes, political objectives, innovation pursuits, innovation feedback needs, and cultural transformation communicated and measured for Execution? When should the impacts of strategic objectives, strategy development processes, political objectives, innovation pursuits, innovation feedback needs, and cultural transformation be communicated and measured for Execution?
5. Why the linking and measurement of strategic objectives, political understanding, innovative ideas and cultural transformation to Execution important to your daily tasks? Why should the linking and measurement of strategic objectives, political understanding, innovative ideas and cultural transformation to Execution be important to your daily tasks?

To be clear, while Execution does mean to do something but that something is useless if it doesn’t align directly with the organization’s short-term and long-term goals. When setting up these goals, keep in mind that people, processes, products, services, and technologies need to be considered holistically. Additionally, be prudent in understanding that:

  • Execution means different things to departments/teams/people
  • Execution becomes status quo when nothing is challenged constantly
  • Execution is defeated when measuring non-value producing items
  • Execution is not about order-making/taking
  • Execution fails when it is assumed that everything will work magically
The SPICE Factors
SPICE Factors

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How to Approach Business Transformation

Business Transformation is the process of transforming: (1) how things are made, (2) how things are bought, (3) how things are sold and (4) how services are provided. Each organization has its own sense of what it wants to accomplish in its existence and thus gives different weights to what needs to be transformed. Having […]

Business Transformation is the process of transforming: (1) how things are made, (2) how things are bought, (3) how things are sold and (4) how services are provided. Each organization has its own sense of what it wants to accomplish in its existence and thus gives different weights to what needs to be transformed. Having said that, generally speaking, business transformation is about making changes that can improve the organization as a whole.

The pursuit of Business Transformation is not easy and according to some experts, only 30% of the organizations actually succeed in doing it. While there can be many reasons for this low success rate, one big factor that continues to show up is the inability of organizations to adapt quickly to changing needs. Thus, before organizations start on their Business Transformation journeys, wouldn’t it be prudent to know what challenges are ahead. Here is a non-exhaustive list (of questions) to get the conversation started around challenges of Business Transformation within your organization:

  1. (Un)intentional Misdirection
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is (un)intentionally misdirecting efforts?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees face when (un)intentional misdirections happen?
    • Where are the (un)intentional misdirections from the executive, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees (un)intentional misdirections resulted in positive or negative results?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for (un)intentional misdirections that are tied (in)directly to Business Transformation efforts?
  2. Authority to Updated Processes
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels has the authority to constantly create, review, update and delete processes?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees face when processes are updated?
    • Where are the old and new processes from the executive, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees updated processes resulted in positive or negative results?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for updated processes that are tied (in)directly to Business Transformation efforts?
  3. Biases
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is given the training to identify biases in themselves and others?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees face when their biases play a key role in decision making?
    • Where are the biases from the executive, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees display biases and towards whom?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for their biases?
  4. Build versus Buy Timelines
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making building versus buying decisions as they relate to Business Transformation efforts?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees face when they build versus buy decisions affect Business Transformation efforts?
    • Where buy versus build deacons from the executive, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees build versus buying decisions can be positive or negative?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for making decisions around building or buying something?
  5. C-suite Mis(alignment)
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure there is not (mis)alignment between C-suites?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees face when they identify (mis)alignment?
    • Where are the (mis)alignment between the executive, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should raise (mis)alignment concerns?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for (mis)alignment within and across their functional units?
  6. Consumer versus Enterprise Product/Service
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for deciding which consumer and enterprise products/services should be created and used within the organization?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees face when their consumer and enterprise products/services fail or succeed?
    • Where are the consumer and enterprise product/service development and use by the executive, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should pursue consumer and enterprise product/service development opportunities?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for lack of hindsight and foresight for consumer and enterprise product/service development?
  7. Contribution Barriers
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is allowed to contribute towards Business Transformation?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees face when they identify barriers to their contributions?
    • Where are the barriers to contribution from the executive, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should identify contribution barriers?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for barriers to the contribution that they created or destroyed?
  8. Customer Expectations versus Reality
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for checking what the customer wants is aligned with what is being provided?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees face when what they give to the customer is different than what the customer wanted?
    • Where are the consumer expectations with executive, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should raise their voices when consumer needs are not being met by what the consumer wants?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for what consumers wanted versus what consumers got?
  9. Customers as Second Class Citizens
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for verifying how customers are treated?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees face when they identify customer mistreatment?
    • Where is the customer mistreatment by the executive, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report about customer mistreatment?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for customer mistreatment?
  10. Deliberate Obstruction
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels deliberately creating obstacles to Business Transformation?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify and verify obstruction?
    • Where is the deliberate obstruction by executives, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report about deliberate obstruction and to whom?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for deliberate obstruction?
  11. Execution Leadership
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is showing leadership skills needed for Business Transformation?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they show leadership?
    • Where is the exhibition of leadership qualities by executives, middle management and front-line employees being captured, stored and retrieved for lessons learned?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report about lack of leadership and to whom?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for lack of leadership?
  12. In-Group vs. New Comers
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is showing an unfair bias towards newcomers?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify and verify in-group vs. newcomer biases?
    • Where are the lessons learned from biases displayed by executives, middle management and front-line employees kept?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report about the display of biases?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for having biases?
  13. Inflexibility towards Alternatives
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is not flexible to consider alternatives?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they spot inflexibility towards alternatives?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when inflexibility is shown by executives, middle management and front-line employees?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report about inflexibility and to whom?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for not considering short-term and long-term alternatives?
  14. IT Processes vs. Non-IT Processes
    • Who knows/decides between IT Processes vs. Non-IT Processes?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify IT and Non-IT processes that are inefficient/unnecessary?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when processes are reviewed by executives, middle management and front-line employees?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report about bad and good processes?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for the creation/destruction of new/old IT and non-IT Processes?
  15. Job Filling vs. Career Trajectory
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for creating career trajectory levels from intern to CEO?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify super performers from their own and other teams?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when the career trajectory of individuals in tracked over a long period of time?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report friction between career trajectory and just simple job filling?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for not creating real-world career trajectories?
  16. Lack of Standardization
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for identifying need/removal of standards?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they provide feedback on what needs to be standardized?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when a lack of standardization results in loss to the organization?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report about need/removal of standards?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for lack of standards?
  17. Lack of Trust of Information Technology (IT)
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for creating bridges to/from IT to non-IT?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they spot collaboration opportunities with IT?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when collaboration fails because of executives, middle management and front-line employees?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report about the need to collaborate with IT?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for not collaborating with IT?
  18. Lack of Understanding of Customer Strategy
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for creating a cohesive customer acquisition and retention strategy?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify gaps in customer strategy?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when customer strategy fails because of executives, middle management and front-line employees?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report about the need for feedback to improve/rethink customer strategy?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for lack of understanding customer strategy?
  19. Leadership for Cultural Change
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for displaying examples of leadership that inspires others?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they show leadership qualities that can help bring positive cultural change to the organization?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when good and bad leadership led to (un)intended consequences?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report the need to reevaluate an organization’s culture?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for an organization’s culture?
  20. Leadership Talk versus Leadership Action
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for identifying the link between what leadership talks about and what leadership actually does?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they show a discrepancy between leadership talk and action?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when good leaders lie?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report the need to identify the link between what leadership talks about and what leadership actually does?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for their actions?
  21. Mac versus Windows versus UNIX versus other Operating Systems
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels decide what operating systems to use?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they can identify the use of a certain operating system that might be beneficial in the long term?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when obsolete and not updated operating systems are used?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report the need to identify the link between operating systems and potential for growth?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for their selection of operating systems?
  22. Proprietary Software versus Open Source Software versus In-House
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for deciding what is the right mix of software to use?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they that current mix of software could be problematic?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when a bad mix of software results in revenue loss and reduced productivity?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should report the need to clarify how the purchase/building of future software fits in what the organization currently has?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for their decision of software mixes?
  23. Market Demands
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for deciphering current and future market demands?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they (in)correctly decipher current and future market demands?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when a bad strategy to address market demands in (un)met?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if reexamination of market demands is needed?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible if their strategy to address market demands succeeds/fails?
  24. No Innovation Development Processes
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for creating an effective innovation development process?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they (in)directly affect the bottom line of the organization?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when innovation development processes succeed/fail?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if an innovation development process needs to be created/destroyed?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible when their innovation development processes succeed/fail?
  25. No Innovation Lessons Learned
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for capture lessons learned from innovation efforts?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they capture innovation lessons learned?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved so that they can be feedback for the next iteration of innovations?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if capturing innovation lessons learned is actually needed?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible if they don’t capture lessons learned through innovation and iteration?
  26. No Innovation Repository
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for maintaining and destroying innovation repositories?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when most of the innovations in the repository are successes/failures?
    • Where are the lessons learned are captured when there is not an innovation repository?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if innovation repository should be created, updated or deleted?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible if they have no innovation repository?
  27. No Innovation Training
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for training on innovation at the organization?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they (in)correctly create innovation training?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when innovation training results is success/failures?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if innovation training is needed?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible if they don’t provide innovation training?
  28. No Pre or Post Innovation Return on Investment (ROI) Calculations
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for calculating pre and post innovation ROI?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they (in)correctly calculate pre and post innovation ROI?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when good/bad pre and post innovation ROI affect the organization’s bottom line?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if they should(n’t) conduct pre and post innovation ROI?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for pre and post innovation ROI succeed/fail?
  29. No Use of Lessons Learned
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure lessons learned are being used?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they (mis)use or ignore lessons learned?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when lessons learned are not referred?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if they should(n’t) use lessons learned?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible when lessons learned are(n’t) used?
  30. No well-defined Processes Return on Investment (ROI)
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure all processes have some ROI attached to them?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify and improve process ROIs?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when process RIOs are improved?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if they should(n’t) create process ROIs?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible when poor/great process RIOs are (mis)used?
  31. Not Accepting Changes in Market, Internal Customers, and External Customers
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure different impact changes are being tracked?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify and improve tracking changes?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when tracking changes succeeds/fails?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if they should(n’t) worry about changes?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for changes?
  32. Not Understanding Requirements
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure requirements are correctly understood?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify and improve requirement gathering?
    • Where are the lessons learned stored when tracking changes succeeds/fails?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if requirements need to be understood?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for misunderstanding of requirements?
  33. Online and Offline Customer Experience Handoffs
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure there is a smooth transition between online to offline and offline to online experiences?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify and improve online and offline experiences?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when online and offline experiences succeed/fail?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if they online and offline experiences are not relevant?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible when there is friction between online and offline experiences?
  34. Outdated Hiring Practices
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure outdated hiring processes are not affecting the organization?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify and improve outdated hiring processes?
    • Where are the lessons learned stored when experimenting with hiring processes?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if they should(n’t) worry about outdated hiring processes?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for outdated hiring processes?
  35. Outdated/Imaginary Processes
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure outdated/imaginary processes are(n’t) being followed?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify and improve outdated/imaginary processes?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when outdated/imaginary processes are revamped?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if they should(n’t) worry about outdated/imaginary processes?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for outdated/imaginary processes?
  36. Perception of Process Stability
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure process stability perception doesn’t supersede reality?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when the perception of a process is wrong?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when process perception are addressed?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if they should(n’t) worry about the perception of processes?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible when process perceptions are different than process realities?
  37. Processes Created Just to Have it
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure unnecessary processes are(n’t) created?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they eliminate unnecessary processes?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when unnecessary processes are identified?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if unnecessary need to be looked at?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for unnecessary processes?
  38. Product Familiarity
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure product familiarity does(n’t) come in the way of production?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they strike a balance between product familiarity and production?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when product familiarity becomes an obstacle?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if product familiarity should be looked at?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for product familiarity which results in a lack of looking at the latest products?
  39. Rapid Technological Changes
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure rapid technological changes do(n’t) make the organization obsolete?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify rapid technological changes that can enhance/destroy the organization?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when rapid technological changes affect the organization?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if rapid technological changes are an opportunity or threat?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for their lack of adapting to rapid technological changes?
  40. Reporting Structures
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure the most effective and flexible reporting structures are in place?
    • rapid technological changes do(n’t) make the organization obsolete?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify and improve reporting structures?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when reporting structures affect the organization’s bottom line?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if reporting structures matter?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for lack of foresight and hindsight to improving reporting structures?
  41. Shadow Information Technology (IT)
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure there is no shadow IT?
    • rapid technological changes do(n’t) make the organization obsolete?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify shadow IT?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when shadow IT can enhance/destroy organizational procedures?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if shadow IT is really an issue?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible when they create shadow IT?
  42. Siloed Processes
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure no process is in a bubble?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify processes that don’t show cohesion across the organization?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when siloed processes are identified and addressed?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if they should look into creating processes that are holistic and collaborative?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for creating siloed processes?
  43. Software Development versus Software Maintenance
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure software development matches software maintenance?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify discrepancies between software development and software maintenance?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when software development and software maintenance don’t match up?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if software development and software maintenance should be tracked?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for not making the connection between software development and software maintenance?
  44. Top-Down versus Bottom-Up Undocumented Processes
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure there no undocumented processes?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify the undocumented processes were causing harm to the organization?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when undocumented processes are left as is or changed?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if undocumented processes need to be addressed?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible for creating undocumented processes?
  45. Virtual versus Brick and Mortar Office
    • Who at the executive, middle management and front-line employees levels is responsible for making sure the virtual and physical office personal feel the same passion for the organization and its mission?
    • What incentives and consequences do executives, middle management and front-line employees get when they identify discrepancies between virtual and physical offices?
    • Where are the lessons learned saved when discrepancies between virtual and physical offices affect the bottom line?
    • When executive, middle management and front-line employees should determine if discrepancies between virtual and physical offices could be an issue?
    • Why executive, middle management and front-line employees should(n’t) be held responsible if there are discrepancies between virtual and physical offices?

As we can see from the above list of questions, these are but a few of the many challenges to Business Transformation. Overall, Business Transformation is a tug of war between the status quo and the transformation efforts. The major factor that plays a huge role in this tug of war is time. Status quo has the benefit of time and thus more time spent in transformation, more likely that the organization would revert back to old ways of doing things.

Status Quo

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5 Questions to Ask About Your Organization’s Innovation

The word “innovation” is often used in organizations to portray that they are somehow advancing their organization. But what really is innovation and who can and should innovate really depends upon who you talk to and what context and timeframes that person is referring to. Thus, it seems that innovation is something subjective but people do realize that it is something important and needs to be done at their organization.

But where to start? If you google “innovation” then you will get over 100+ million results! Those are a lot of results! The amount of time you would have to spend to sift through that information would be astronomical. On top of that even if you (or your Artificial Intelligence) have the time to read every expert (there are many) on innovation, you would still have to make innovation relevant and practical for your own organization. That is a tall order!

No worries! In this blog post, I will attempt to create a clear understanding of what questions you should be asking to assess your organization’s innovation efforts at different levels.

Let’s start with some baseline understanding:

  1. The importance of innovation at your organization is highly dependent on what are the end goals that your organization is trying to achieve
  2. Your organization is a unique composition of people, processes, products, services, and technologies
  3. There is a difference between being innovative at an organizational level versus being innovative at an individual level but they have to be aligned
  4. Culture can kill or flourish your organization’s innovation efforts

At its core, innovation is about new ideas, devices, and/or methods but it is also about improving existing ideas, devices and/or methods. What this means is that the opportunities for innovation are abundant within and outside your organization. Due to this abundance, organizations struggle where to start first. Keeping in mind that innovation is the lifeline of your organization, let’s start asking the following questions about innovation efforts at your organization:

Strategic Perspectives on Innovation:

 

Today

Tomorrow

1.Who is incentivized at the executive level to lead the innovation?Who should be incentivized at the executive level to lead the innovation?
2.What governance structures are in place for the flow of innovative ideas?What governance structures should be in place for the flow of innovative ideas?
3.Where is the technology used to help in innovation?Where should technology be used to help in innovation?
4.When and how often innovation needs are clearly stated?When and how often strategic objectives should be communicated?
5.Why external and internal views on innovation matter for strategic objectives?Why should external and internal views on innovation matter for strategic objectives?

Tactical Perspectives on Innovation:

 Today

Tomorrow

1.Who is incentivized at the middle management level to call B.S. on perceived innovation gains?Who should be incentivized at the middle management level to call B.S. on perceived innovation gains?
2.What business units, functional areas, and teams are included to do innovation?What business units, functional areas, and teams should be included to do innovation?
3.Where technology hinders innovation processes?Where technology might hinder innovation processes?
4.When is innovation alignment to strategic objectives communicated?When should innovation alignment to strategic objectives communicate?
5.Why innovation processes are critical to achieving tactical objectives?Why innovation processes should be critical to achieving tactical objectives?

Operational Perspectives on Innovation:

 

Today

Tomorrow

1.Who sees innovation as a disease or a cure?Who might see innovation as a disease or a cure?
2.What business processes and cultural considerations provide views on the organization’s actual vs. perceived innovation?What business processes and cultural considerations should provide views on the organization’s actual vs. perceived innovation?
3.Where is the technology part of your organization to introduce innovation?Where should technology be a part of your organization to introduce innovation?
4.When were you informed about the innovation pursuits and feedback needs?When should you have been informed about the innovation pursuits and feedback needs?
5.Why having innovative ideas about your daily tasks is important?Why anyone beyond you should care about innovative ideas about your daily tasks?

By starting to ask the above opening set of questions, you will start to decipher where efforts are concentrated (e.g., people, processes, products, services, and technologies) within your organization and what you could do to connect the dots. You will begin to understand if innovation is just a buzzword in your organization or something more. You will begin to understand if there are biases and barriers to innovation within your organization. You will be able to understand if your organization actually learned its lessons from previous innovation efforts and if new innovation efforts included improvements from previous failures. And lastly, you will begin to understand if failure for the sake of innovation in your organization is really an option.

5 Questions to About Your Organization's Innovation

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5 Questions to Ask About Your Organization’s Strategy

If you have a strong understanding of how culture affects your organization’s strategy then you have better ideas of creating strategies that are truly transformative for your organization. Having said that, most organizations don’t take the time to strategize about strategy development processes and thus are not fully aware of the intended and unintended effects of their pursuits. The three main reasons for this lack of awareness are:

  1. The fallacy that strategy should always be top-down
  2. The lack of a holistic approach to strategy development and feedback
  3. The half-baked idea that strategy can only be created by a few people

An organization’s overall strategy is a combination of policy and plan of action that is intended to improve the making, buying, or selling of goods and/or services for the customer. Thus, it becomes imperative for organizations to keep the customer at the center of what they do and create customer experiences that make their lives easier.

If you want the strategy to be something that is shelf-ware that looks pretty on an executives’ file cabinet and it is cool to the only talk about it then don’t read ahead. For those, if you want the strategy to be more than just an exercise then I would invite you to ask the following questions about strategy and strategy development processes within your own organization:

Strategic Perspectives on Strategy:

 

Today

Tomorrow

1.Who is incentivized at the executive level to create a strategy?Who should be incentivized at the executive level to create a strategy?
2.What governance structures are in place for transforming how strategy is created?What governance structures should be in place for transforming how strategy is created?
3.Where is the technology used to help strategy?Where should technology be used to help strategy?
4.When and how often strategic objectives are communicated?When and how often strategic objectives should be communicated?
5.Why holistic strategy development processes are critical to achieving strategic objectives?Why holistic strategy development processes should be critical to achieving strategic objectives?

Tactical Perspectives on Strategy:

 

Today

Tomorrow

1.Who is incentivized at the middle management level to give feedback on strategy?Who should be incentivized at the middle management level to give feedback on strategy?
2.What business units, functional areas, and teams are included to develop a strategy?What business units, functional areas, and teams should be included to create a strategy?
3.Where technology hinders strategy development processes?Where technology might hinder strategy development processes?
4.When is the start and end of meeting strategic objectives communicated?When should the start and end of meeting strategic objectives communicated?
5.Why strategy development processes are critical to achieving tactical objectives?Why strategy development processes should be critical to achieving tactical objectives?

Operational Perspectives on Strategy:

 

Today

Tomorrow

1.Who sees strategy development processes as an obstacle?Who might see strategy development processes as an obstacle?
2.What business processes provide views on the organization’s actual vs. perceived strategy?What business processes should provide views on the organization’s actual vs. perceived strategy?
3.Where is the technology part of your understanding of the organization’s strategy?Where should technology be a part of understanding the organization’s strategy?
4.When were you informed about the strategic objectives and strategy development processes?When should you have been informed about the strategic objectives and strategy development processes?
5.Why strategic objectives are critical to achieving your daily tasks?Why strategic objectives should be critical to achieving your daily tasks?

To be clear, strategy and strategy development affects everyone inside and outside your organization which includes executives, middle management, front lines employees as well as the customers you are trying to acquire. Thus, your organization’s strategy development processes should be robust enough that they take long-term holistic views but also flexible enough to cater for bumps and take advantage of technological advancement.

5 Questions to About Your Organization's Strategy

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