Article Two: Cea, the Chief EA, gets the ball rolling

The clock has started; the project funded. Now it is the time for Cea and her team to show the company their high value and ability to lead. Admittedly, this is a very daunting challenge, but it is one Cea was willing to take and make happen. After all, the future of the EA team was at stake.

The current team is uniquely qualified and ready to drive this initiative. Some, but not all, EA team members understood the value and importance of a successful implementation; not only for the organization, but also for the good of the enterprise architecture team going forward. However, others on the team, ones who don’t want a lot of additional process and are not yet convinced of the value of some touted EA best practices (such as TOGAF, etc.), were pushing back. After all, they prided themselves on their technical stills and didn’t see the reason to change their mindset, at least at this point. These individuals needed to see the value firsthand. Coming from a technical background herself, and still keeping a hand in it, Cea understands this position. This was a critical challenge; however, she knows the team engagement approach must change, and change quickly.

Limited funding, short runway

With funding just for six months, and only essential outside help (SME) permitted, resourcing this will be a challenge. Also, leadership reporting needs to be provided weekly, with tangible, measurable, meaningful goals presented.

Rebecca gets the nod

The Chief EA gets this critical initiative going by assigning it to Rebecca, an experienced senior architect on the EA team. This is precisely the opportunity Rebecca has been waiting for, as she knows the EA team can do a lot better than it currently is. She believes she has seen better, and is determined to do the job correctly and successfully. A lot is at stake here—pride, reputation, etc.

Why Rebecca?

Rebecca has been with the company for two years and is currently the lead EA on the infrastructure initiative. Her background with global IT technology service providers has been involved in implementing several complex initiatives, with varying degrees of success. She knows what has worked, what has not, and is determined not to repeat failing initiative steps as much as possible. However, she also knows failure is inevitable, and if handled correctly, can in fact help drive a successful initiative. Rebecca has internalized the expression “fail early, fail often” and is keen to showcase this ability here.

One of Rebecca’s previous employers prided themselves on being a CMMI level 5 (CMMI, n.d.) organization, which is a very difficult level of excellence to achieve.

To accomplish this high level of competency, the previous company required all key personnel to be trained in, and subsequently implement, industry standards such as TOGAF, BIZBOK, Six Sigma, ITIL, and others. Rebecca understood the value brought by these, even while seeing the flaws and conflicts between each as the organization implemented them into sustainable operational processes. It was not easy to do.

Cea also knew how important and critical this knowledge was to successful organizations. However, she also knew human nature fought against such implementation. Change is difficult, and anything considered a “standard” went against the grain of many who considered themselves “unique”, and also against the political walls inevitably found in organizations. No one wanted to give up power and prestige without a fight, or a push from management.

This is why Cea assigned the critical project initiative to her.

Rebecca hits the ground running

Initially, Rebecca brought in Progetto, an experienced Scrum Master as project coordinator. She knows Progetto will be valuable in keeping things organized and documented—but not to lead the initiative. Rebecca will be doing that. However, she plans for Progetto to take on more responsibilities as the project advances; after all, she already is an experienced Agile Scrum Master and knows how to run Agile teams. Rebecca is counting on Progetto and values her expertise.

Cea brings in Steve

They brought in a person whom Cea had worked with before, a practicing EA consultant who had trained Cea in TOGAF when she was at another global IT provider firm. Cea also knew he had a working POC that consisted of many of the identified requirements, as well as the rationale as to why this approach could be leveraged here. His name was Steve. He agreed and quickly joined the initiative.

Steve hit the road running, going from 0 to 70 in 5 seconds flat

Steve ramped up quickly, as he was highly experienced and used to entering initiatives under pressure. In fact, he thrived with such a challenge.

After meeting with fellow team members and understanding the gig, Steve set out framing some possible approaches.

The purpose of these articles and coming attractions

This is the second in a series of articles to clearly identify a usable scenario and a usable proof of concept one could use in their environment.

Not only will there be words to explain the scenario, the approach, and the solution, there will also be usable best practices freely available to use. This is my way of paying it forward, as it were. While the published solution will completely map these articles, it will not completely solve your problem.

These are intended to get you started with the notion of the approach to a data-driven enterprise architecture solution.  While I’m providing this information for FREE, this content is just the tip of the iceberg. There will be content, training, and more coming soon I’m excited to share with you.

Watch this space!

Article one: Leadership wants change

The message is clear—we need to become a data-driven organization

Prez just got back from a major consultancy sponsored executive conference where the key takeaway, at least for him, was making your organization a DATA-DRIVEN DECISION-MAKING one. Perhaps to some this seemed like the idea du jour, the currently in fashion idea, but not so for Prez. He had heard all of this before; from his peers, from his advisors, and from his management consultants. It just seemed to be a very complex undertaking, one fraught with risks and uncertainty.

Prez knew it was time to invest in a big data initiative tied to business transformation, but was unsure just how to do it. Being the president and CEO of the company, as well as a major shareholder, he had the power to make it happen. He also had the desire. But how best to approach it without a major corporate disruption? The company was doing very well. The employees seemed happy, and for the most part the shareholders were content. However, he knew this could easily change, especially if the company started losing market share to more in-tune competitors who always seemed to appear.

It was time to make it happen. Just how is the question.

Leadership wants a new direction

Prez gathered the leadership team together and pitched to them this: (from (Stobierski, 2019)

Data-driven decision-making is the process of using data to inform your decision-making process and validate a course of action before committing to it. Today’s largest and most successful organizations use data to their advantage when making high-impact business decisions. How exactly data can be incorporated into the decision-making process will depend on a number of factors, such as your business goals and the types and quality of data you have access to. Though data-driven decision-making has existed in business in one form or another for centuries, it’s a truly modern phenomenon.

Prez challenged his leadership team to:

  1. Become a data-driven decision-making organization within one year
  2. Use a modest, time constrained investment that shows immediate value
  3. Avoid or mitigate risk
  4. Pull through the organization as quickly, organically, and sustainably as possible

This was not a hard sell for Prez, as Rand in research and development, Sami in sales and marketing, and Fin in corporate finance all have been investigating Data Science, due to having direct reports keenly advocating for this as well.

However, the business department heads were not sure how this would affect or impact their departments. They needed to be convinced.

There is a shown interest within the organization and some pent-up demand as well. The question is, as a company, as Prez has postulated, what is the best approach for all of us?

Mission statement created

After a spirited discussion, leadership hammered out this mission statement:

Mission statement

To steer the company towards a data-driven decision-making operating model that makes highly reliable and validated information accessible to authorized consumers, with data integrity and accountability held and maintained at the most appropriate source. The company strives to be as technology and vendor neutral as possible, maximizing business value while leveraging industry best practices and standards, reducing operating cost while maintaining, or reducing overall headcount.

Now, how to make it happen? This is the 60-million-dollar question.

The Chief Enterprise Architect sees her chance

As the Chief Enterprise Architect, Cea had a seat on the leadership team. The challenge excited her, as her long-stated goal was to steer EA toward a more professional, predictable, value producing practice going forward.

After all, Cea is keenly aware several members of the leadership team aren’t happy with the current enterprise architecture initiative. The results are not up to date or in line with leadership expectations, whatever they might be. Besides, a good EA is EXPENSIVE. What truly is the value of EA? If there is a value, how is it measured?

The Chief EA approached leadership with a proposal: She wants the enterprise architecture team to take leadership on this data-driven initiative.

Leadership green lights the proposal, with conditions attached

Leadership is willing to invest, but only to a point. The team must show immediate, provable value and sustainable progress for subsequent support and investment. Also, leadership is clear—no increase in permanent headcount.

However, before giving the green light, Prez told Cea the EA team must produce a vision statement that clearly and concisely describes the initiative mission in a short paragraph—an elevator pitch as it were.

This is the vision statement Cea came up with and presented to Prez and the leadership team:

Our vision is to help realize the corporate mission statement objective of data-driven decision-making operating model of a sustainable process into the company’s core DNA by using the unique skills of the EA practice and proving, by a Proof of Concept (POC), how this can be accomplished with minimal financial investment, minimum risk, sustainable measured value, little outside expertise, and not increasing EA headcount.

The proposal was accepted and green lit, but only funded for six months. Now it is time for Cea’s team to make it happen. A daunting challenge, but one Cea was willing to take and make happen.

The purpose of these articles and coming attractions

This is the first in a series of articles to clearly identify a usable scenario and a usable proof of concept one could use in their environment.

Not only will there be words to explain the scenario, the approach, and the solution, there will also be usable best practices freely available to use. This is my way of paying it forward, as it were. While the published solution will completely map these articles, it will not completely solve your problem.

These are intended to get you started with the notion of the approach to a data-driven enterprise architecture solution.  While I’m providing this information for FREE, this content is just the tip of the iceberg. There will be content, training, and more coming soon I’m excited to share with you.

Watch this space!

References

(Stobierski, 2019) – Stobierski, Tim, https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/data-driven-decision-making