Information - Sustainable Enterprise Transformation

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To sustain longevity via a simplexity approach because the way our lives and work mesh matters
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May 4, 2016
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In today's rapid disruption of business models by the unicorns of the 4th Industrial Revolution (aka Industry 4.0) as defined by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum such as Airbnbs, Ubers and the like, just to name a few, enterprises must improve the way they do business (transform), not just today but tomorrow and into the future, by leveraging the whole-of-enterprise-transformation know-how readily available today.

In his words,
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We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.
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No doubt there are lots of changes and projects happening today everywhere. But, more importantly,
  • Are they strategic or incurring enterprise debt as they go? To what ends?
  • Are they sustainable because we are just on the brink of this 4th IR according to Klaus?
  • Are they designed to transform their existing transformation capabilities, not the execution of transformation but the transformation of transformation?
  • Are they designed to lay the foundation for enterprise longevity?
  • Who is accountable - the chief transformation officer, CEO, CIO or run-by-committee?
Enterprise Architecture, existed since the 80s, is an example of whole-of-transformation know-how among many others such as Transfomative Scenario Planning, meet the criteria of an integrated and comprehensive response called for by Klaus above.

If EA is not adopted or if adopted not producing the desired outcomes really caused by the often cited reasons ranging from EA is limited to certain sections in an organisation, lack of buy-in from key stakeholders, teams working in silos, especially the usual business-IT divide, EA or the framework adopted is too complex, where to start, how to justify the cost of doing EA, to many other cultural issues? Or are we missing something here? Have the wrong questions been asked and therefore gotten the wrong replies? Are those reasons above the results of doing EA in some ways *not* lean or pragmatic, so crucial in today's complex and uncertain market conditions? Navigating the complex terrain deserve another conversation on its own. Suffice to say here that if Peter Senge (1990) advocates systems thinking as the key to coping with an ever more complex future so much so that no one individual can grasp or predict what might happen, because the number of interdependent factors at work and their ramifications are impossible to predict, then the aim of EA must be to create and sustain a socio-technical system that learns ... One in which EA as a discipline is practiced by many leaders at all levels in concert and leaders approach managing complexity by leveraging systems thinking that connect the essential dots elaborated further below to increase the probability of success even though success cannot be guaranteed, as the core of the EA practice.

The idea is that in the 4th Industrial Revolution we are facing right now, the world is increasingly becoming more uncertain, complex and inter-connected. The way to manage such a situation is not to add yet more complicating rules and requirements that attempt to anticipate every possible outcome but instead to figure out the small number of key forces at work and leverage their interaction effects. We call this the simplexity approach first coined by Jeffrey Klugger 2008. A similar concept to Pareto's 80/20 rule. We have to learn that the best decisions are only probabilistic and no matter what we do we cannot guarantee success.

Improving health is a good example. One can make it complicated by identifying a long list of factors and remedies, or make it overly simple by seeking a magic bullet in the form of vitamins and prescription pills. Or one can go the simplexity route: eating a healthy diet, exercising three times a week and getting eight hours of sleep every night.

The real value of EA is in the relationships, not the things nor the people. By the way, that is happiness hypothesis - that it comes from between (Jonathan Haidt, 2006, p213).

If health is defined as the state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, not only the absence of disease and disabilities according to the World Health Organization WHO, and if enterprises are fundamentally living organisms, then enterprise health and longevity are determined by the state of both structural and transformational information (ontology to be precise) of an enterprise, such as methods, artefacts, culture and environment for the former and motivation, measures and assessment for the latter, making up the essential dots mentioned above. Coupled with a maturity model that enumerates the various possible states of health, sickness or fitness, depending on the context and an adoption framework that incorporates regular health assessments and a fitness program to raise the performance of the human body in sports competition or in this case the performance of an enterprise in its operating environment, we at PragmaticEA, believe we have identified the smallest set of interrelated factors that feed on each other in concert to determine the outcomes of doing EA - the lean and pragmatic approach (Pareto's 80/20 rule) of doing EA that would have avoided the above manifestations or reasons for not doing EA. It is all about focusing on the fundamentals - the rocks, leaving the stones and then the sands to sort themselves out in a self-organising manner.
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Do these goals exist in the Enterprise Strategy of which members of this community have been part of?

Members of this community can expect to achieve professional certification and be rewarded handsomely both financially and otherwise, if they succeed in steering the whole of enterprises in the complex and uncertain terrain in which they are operating today.

It is the explicit intent of this community to share our collective learnings and experiences, both online and offline, in sustaining enterprise transformation.

Topics for discussion include but not limited to:
  • Enterprise structural ontology - methods, artefacts, culture, environment
  • Enterprise transformational ontology - motivation, actions, guidance, measurements, assessment
  • Enterprise Transformation Framework, Maturity Model and its adoption
  • The Architecture Paradigm vs The Agile Mindset
  • Navigating complexity and uncertainty
  • Learning Organisation
  • Systems Thinking
  • Design Thinking
  • Simplexity Thinking (first coined by Jeffrey Klugger 2008)
  • Case studies and lessons learned
I look forward to having a meaningful conversation with members of this community to apply and further advance this publicly available body of knowledge today.

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Last Updated: May 4, 2016,


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