The Next EA Challenge: Enterprise Design

The scope and role of the enterprise architect is gradually changing from problem solving to problem finding and from dialectic to dialogic skills.

The scope and role of the enterprise architect is gradually changing from problem solving to problem finding and from dialectic to dialogic skills.

The former is expressed in the way in which enterprise architecture has gradually transitioned from the “classic” domain of business drivers and IT requirements into dealing with many different domains of the enterprise, e.g. business strategy, operations, capability development, etc.

These non-IT areas typically deal with “wicked”, ill-defined problems, which are very hard to solve with traditional engineering methods. Instead, skills such as continuous learning, exploration, collaboration, and enquiry are required.

The latter is expressed in the increasing need for cross-departmental, cross-disciplinary collaboration and learning in the modern organization in order to solve complex business issues. In the light of this changing role, systems thinking again provides a compelling approach for framing and analysing these challenges, for example through concepts of organizational sense-making and loosely-coupled systems. John has recently published a book (“Beyond Alignment”) about applying systems thinking in enterprise architecture.

Om årets EA-konference

Artiklens to forfattere er blandt oplægsholderne på DANSK IT's konference EA 2013. Her bliver der sat fokus på anvendelsen af EA i virksomhederne – oplægsholderne ser forbi rammeværkerne, og giver et indblik i, hvad der bliver efterspurgt og konkret bliver anvendt i organisationerne og virksomhederne. På dagen uddeles også årets EA-pris.

The complex and volatile nature of such systems quickly becomes overwhelming, with business processes, enterprise actors, brand interactions, culture, content, business models, technology or touchpoints being just tiny parts of the puzzle.

Too often in a classic decision-centric management setting, long lists of requirements as the basis for all further endeavours seem to just magically appear out of nothing and remain unquestioned, instead of being part of a larger vision and purposeful design of the business. When design competency is called in, it is often too late - the inconsistencies and missing links that turn out in bad experiences are already hard-wired and constrain the solution space.

To avoid this kind of problem, the idea of the enterprise as subject to design work takes a different approach to design: that the key challenges companies and other organizations face are best tackled by addressing them in a strategic design initiative, working in a holistic and coherent fashion. In this context, an enterprise can be seen as a purposeful endeavour, an idea shared by the various people involved, and a set of identities, architectures and experiences to be designed.

Working with customers such as SAP, Boeing, DHL, Deutsche Telekom and the United Nations, Milan Guenther and his eda.c developed the Enterprise Design Framework a set of 20 interrelated aspects loosely corresponding to disciplines and approaches used in strategic design work, meant to be used as a map to navigate the complex space of intermingled concerns that is the playing field of strategic design work, providing a common language as well as a checklist of elements to consider. Going from top to bottom, it allows bridging abstract strategic thinking with conceptual and creative work, and turning this into tangible and visible outcomes.

Using an adapted industrial design process, the Enterprise Design Framework allows making design choices on different levels aligned with strategy. By looking at the business from a human-centric Customer Experience perspective, such a design captures a meaningful, viable and feasible future state. This in turn can be used to realign the various moving parts of enterprise ecosystems in traceable models, making them strive towards a common vision.

Milan Guenther, CEO, eda.c and John Gøtze, CEO, EA Fellows will make a joint keynote at the DIT EA 2013 Conference in Copenhagen on 12 November. The presentation will focus on findings from Milan’s and John’s recent Enterprise Design Retreat held earlier this year, where some 25 designers and architects were brought together to learn from each other, but Milan will also briefly introduce the Enterprise Design Framework.