What do current disruptive technologies mean to the roles of the Federal CIO office

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We wanted to ask: What do current disruptive technologies mean to the roles of the Federal CIO office? 

Currently the Counter Weights are in Legacy footprints, primarily legacy policy

Traditionally, the operating model and funding approach for IT has been based on the Brooks Act of 1965 and only added minor portfolio integration concepts based on the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996. These acts were focused on internal IT cost-based centers, management information systems, mission control systems, and enterprise resource planning systems. These systems were all either internal mission or data processing systems used to run business. Since 1996, a lot has happened in the IT based. It has moved from cost center to profit center in the private sector and in the government space to service or profit center as well (i.e. profit for IRS in efiling). As normally is the case when shifting positions of an asset to the executive level, this also means the investment models change and shift as it is now a critical part of executing transactions and interactions direct with the public, yet our policies are now 20-50 years old.

A few general observations :
  1. The Federal experiment with Clinger Cohen and Circular A-130 addressing the role of the CIO and Enterprise Architecture has not neared fulfilling its objective. New strategies such as CloudFirst and Federal Shared Services are guiding investment, but not new roles of CIOs.
  2. The policy and roles need to be readdressed to manage disruptive technologies like shared services, commoditized cloud computing, information exchange or data and knowledge driven analytics and “who-knows-what-else” coming down the line.  
  3. The CIO’s shop has not been able to transform to meet the basic demands of security and infrastructure disruptions let alone attempts to solve the needs of the mission.  
  4. Additionally, Enterprise Architecture is and has been miscast and ill-defined within the CIO organization and as a result is being used for compliance reporting or to support internal CIO initiatives leaving the mission out in the cold.  

If these statements are agreed to be true, Is it a wonder that a nearly a dozen years after the circular was published that people are still asking “What is Enterprise Architecture”?  Or does the Capital Planning & Investment Control (CPIC) process really lend itself to shared services? Are these skills and tools in the right organization?

Opportunities abound if the right people are managing the disruptions

The federal government opportunities for improvement are many but the most valued will be floating betwixt and between the current organizational, process and data architectures – in the federal architecture ether. 
This poses an especially difficult task to the business.  The mission leaders need to be allocating skilled resources to understanding how to assess the value of disruptive technologies or service changes to address their goals.    It is old school thinking that the CIO as a service provider can penetrate their mission problems with the timely and appropriate application of technology.  The development of extensible cloud computing platforms with transparent accounting systems provides an essential key for the mission to step in, reposition itself, and own the movement towards shared services, enhanced information exchanges or improved mission processes.  After all, they are the immediate beneficiaries.

What might these new roles look like?

What might this look like from a 100,000 foot perspective? In a Business Week article, it summarizes the new role of the Federal CIO, historically an IT manager, is now:

 In sum, the successful CIO needs an intimate idea of how current technology can increase the company’s sales and not just reduce costs or improve clerical productivity.

Beyond the CIO role, there are several other key leadership roles to consider in new, coordinated policy.

  • The future CIO role should be targeted to managing infrastructure services and support shared mission services. The CIO can retain the acronym but in essence they should be managers of cross cutting infrastructure and once agreed to and designed and built by the business – shared mission services.  
  • The Chief Architect provides the analysis and design expertise to the Program Managers and Chief Knowledge Officer to help plan for the adoption of the disruption.  
  • Ultimate accountability for performance will be the charge of the Chief Performance Officer.  

In order to achieve true business agility while supported by the adoption of disruptive technologies and services, these roles will need to be figured out how to be repositioned to improve the government’s business capabilities and satisfy citizens, businesses, and cross-government customers.

Fed Biz Solutions partners with Xentity Corporation

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Xentity Corporation (Xentity), a Colorado-based 8(a) certified business transformation consulting firm, and Fed Biz Solutions, Inc (FedBiz), a Colorado-based government compliance consulting and advisory firm, signed a partner agreement in November 2012 that enables Xentity to offer FedBiz services to customers

Xentity has integrated FedBiz service capabilities which help customers transform their business operations, alongside Xentity’s existing services that help transform customers’ mission operations. FedBiz now has the ability to offer services to customers under the SBA 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business program and Xentity has additional trained staff to support FedBiz efforts and provides a greater blend of skilled government business specialists, better customer responsiveness. This also results in a blended price point to customers, without a reduction in quality. 

About Xentity Corporation:

Xentity (ZEN-ti-tee), founded in 2001, receiving 8(a) program status in 2010,  is located at the Golden Signature Centre in Golden, CO, assists commercial and government organizations, large and small helping to create true value via enterprise and solution architecture, planning, analysis and execution support. Xentity is a participant in the Small Business Administration 8(a) program and is a minority-owned disadvantaged small business. Xentity has helped clients achieve their business goals with management consulting and mission-driven architecture, while providing unique communication methods. Xentity has assisted Business and Government, large and small, in the executive trusted advisor role helping clients create true value via enterprise planning and execution support: from shortening emergency response at airports, or reducing college loan application time from months to minutes, to making hidden geospatial data into frontline services, or transforming previous policy information management groups to transformational world leading agencies.
 

About Fed Biz Solutions, Inc:

Fed Biz began operations in 1997 as Sterling Innovations, Inc.  The company has had very good success from the beginning thanks to the many wonderful clients who have shown continual trust in our consulting practices.  In 2011, the decision was made to expand the contract opportunities to include long term, federal Gov’t and large prime contractor contracts to help take the company to ‘the next level’.  One of the steps taken was to change the name to Fed Biz Solutions.  The name change was felt necessary to create a better awareness of the services offered.  Fed Biz Solutions was chosen because of its closeness to FedBizOpps (www.fedbizopps.com), the largest source for finding Federal Government opportunities.   For that reason, on January 1, 2012, the name change took place.  Fed Biz was the first step, but our team knew more than a name change would be needed to make a difference. 

What are Various Architecture Staffing Models

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Various Architecture Staffing Models

Choose an Architect workforce model that addresses the above. Instead of full-time architect, consider the executive or director or technical sponsor for the role main question – “What will the role do after the first two projects/tasks?”.  

Architect as Full-Time Employee

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Low, Good ones move onPlateaus after two projects. No guaranteed output after first two projects. As well, ramp-up time typically more as requires more upfront trainingFull-time, even if after first two projects workload does not matchIts either a tech architect for short-term or exec. architect for long-term, rarely can you find both in one and keep them. No guarantee of knowledge transition to team/corporation.$150-200k/yr
$100-150k in salary plus 20% in benefits plus training, on-boarding every 3 years

Architect as Full-Time Employee with executive responsibilities (not necessarily supervisory)

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Increases based on add-onsKeeps Good ones around and performance-based payFull-time commitment, but workload may not match change agent value – would have to find workPerformance can only incent so much, so this is same problem as employee model$175-275k/yr
$100-150k in salary plus 20% in benefits plus training, on-boarding plus 20% in performance and/or equity 

Independent Contract-based employee Architect as near full-time or full-time

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Renew based on defined, known key result directives/areas. Typically this is one with relationship that exists so sometimes harder to let goRenewal-based to help buy-back risk on post first two projects.Can be full-time, part-time or variable (FFP, T&M) and renewal-basedCan either watch growth, change detail responsibility, or lower hours in one architect. No guarantee of knowledge transition to team/corporation.$150-250k/yr
Typically T&M models with NTE of full-time investment, less onboarding, no benefits/FUCA

Hybrid – Independent Consulting Architect to do & lead Junior Full-Time employees

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Renew based on defined, known key result directives/areas. Sometimes harder to let go if junior employees have grown attachedRenewal-based to help buy-back risk on post first two projects as well as increase corporate knowledge retentionCan be full-time, part-time or variable (FFP, T&M) and renewal-basedAssure knowledge transition and investment in growing staff

$175-275k/yr

$120-$200/hour with volume discounts. Typically more efficient than 100% full-time models

Architecture firm Consulting Services

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Renew and include key personnel requirementsHave more access to various executive, enterprise, solutions, technical, data, process, and services architecture as well as additional deeper tech-reachbackCan be individual or multiple full-time, part-time or variable (FFP, T&M) and renewal-basedCan vary investment in different architect types that change as the fast disruptive

$75 to up 300k/yr for equivalent of 1 FTE

Higher cost per hour, less hours

Recommend 3 to 8 $25 to 75k task order in first year max.

Interim Consult/Contract

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Known end with options to extendsame as non-employee options aboveTypically Full-time as it is placeholding for full-time positionVaries by model chosen above – contract, independent consultant, consulting firm$125-300k/yr
As well, given the task order is more long-term, and has authority as would employee, this reduces the “consulting” model tensionVaries greatly and sometimes requires hefty headhunter fee

 

Xentity can support any of these models in contract-to-hire, staff augmentation, or various consulting capacities.

Transformation cannot survive without a Powerpoint intervention

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We’ve subscribed to Google Groups “The Enterprise Architecture Network” group for several years now. Mostly lurking.  Over that time, we definitely have been able to put great items in our “shopping cart” and gather a tenor of the state of EA. Our methods and work products are becoming more streamlined – at varying paces of satisfaction. Our work products are improving with training and information availability. But in that time, much like our U.S. policies on EA hasn’t changed since the Clinger-Cohen Act in 1996 pre-internet, neither has our EA communication mediums. 

We could blame ourselves, as we do as we are natural evaluators, and we tend to work on content, methods, arguing approaches – we look at the hard science. This is not uncommon as EAs tend to derive from IT which is about logic, organization, and somehow dealing with rapid transformation.
But, the executives, the ones we work for are still struggling with how they go about Layering Cultural and Business Transformation with rapid technology transformation. 
I’d offer we are looking in the wrong place. Yes, our methods, frameworks, tools could improve – a lot! But its the softer side of how we present, what we present to which audience I believe is what is killing enterprise, segment, portfolio, or any large transformation efforts with enterprise architecture seeking to be in the forefront. 

We’d offer an initial focus change for EA and transformation in and of itself: change our communication mediums

Corporations and Government are in lust with slideware, so we use such. To the point, Powerpoint is killing transformation analysis and EA and other complex topics and our core architecture conceptsPPT is too sequential and too outline oriented. Its been used, abused, and most of the time we use it in knee-jerk fashion.

How we get them off slide-meth (or pick your drug metaphor) is the trick?  Call me a Tuftian (Search Edward Tufte Powerpoint).

Getting people to care about Transformation and Architecture

Anyhow, if we want people to care, back to the title of the thread in Google groups, I think the content from this group and the general community is all well and very good in many cases, but we are in need of a branding enema. 
EA is in desperate need of marketing and branding. The efforts of the EA Google Group community and across the spectrum are good basis of content, but finding that audience to engage is our interest.  We need a way to focus on storytelling the output to multiple audiences. Anyone interested in some new mediums for presenting EA or transformation concepts.
To be very fair, at my company, we’re a a big offender as well – buzzword bingo, write too much (constant battle with the Twain Pascal quote “If I Had More Time I Would Write a Shorter Letter”) , go too far down path ahead of client, pushing, etc. while balancing challenging the client, helping them challenge themselves, simplifying complexity, and seek what most people fear – change. 
So, as a start, we have beta’d some variant approaches on some clients –
  • Early phases of powerpoint exit strategy 
    • Weening off powerpoint with 1-pager and a graphic and more discussion time, no presentation (maybe some highlights)
    • Switching powerpoints to be graphical only/mostly and use whitepaper conpendium so they can read themselves when discussing graphic
  • Increasing communication role over work products
    • Treating Communication products as dear and near as our architecture work products when organizing by audience level and focus area (choose your favorite framework when considering that)
    • Interactive data visualization for self-exploration with an executive summary – make it fun to see the line of sight.
  • Agile Management and its communication mediums/tools – notification tracking with plans as they are implemented in Program Management Offices
    • Minor little things like allowing users to reply to the notification and not to have to log in
    • Integrate Content wiki’s with data repositories to increase exploration possibilities and context which allows to notifications on discussions
    • Shifting email discussions to comment threads on issue tracking and content wiki’s which again further increase transparency and exposes transactive knowledge hidden in emails or hidden group threads.
  • Storytell with the goals, outcomes, impacts, and other high-points and denouement.  
    • Can be done using a low-cost high-quality mini-documentary (TLC/History Cable Channel quality) style that storytells about programs, the changes, from customer and investor point of views (rather than self-serving). 
    • Blog more – storytell more – bits and pieces at a time – rather than gems hidden in industry groups, open up the transparency and inclusivity of the topics.
But, we would like to take a step further.  

Here is an example of a mini-documentary, one in a series of four that helps tell the story of the client’s program, its value and the underlying tone of change its undergone, undergoing, and planned:

More can be seen at Communication Services (Video Series Example) which further describes:
These simple stories can show and explain the value of complex programs products, services, solutions, and systems that powerpoints, whitepapers, or multiple conferences cannot achieve. As well, these mediums have helped convey messages, even during times of pressures to reduce travel.

We’d like to do a video series for transformation and EA not unlike what Penn State did for Geospatial as part of their Geospatial Revolution Series – http://geospatialrevolution.psu.edu/ . It would be interesting to pool partners, efforts, gather up funding, and put together a series (process disclaimers aside) using mediums that connect EA and transformation in this new light. Anyone interested, can keep posted on threads in Google Groups “The Enterprise Architecture Network” group

The Surprising Reasons Why America Lost Its Ability To Compete

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Our Architecture Services Lead found this interesting Forbes article on “The Surprising Reasons Why America Lost Its Ability To Compete” written by several Harvard Business School MBA alumni. The article ultimately calls out management, not external factors as the reason for failure. 

 if there are disastrous shortfalls in the ability to compete, then surely the quality of management itself—the art and science of getting things done—must have a lot to do with it

Specifically, the focus on short-term and blaming external factors. At Xentity, we agree that though we understand management pressures in private and public sector have very impending issues to keep the organization within budget (public sector) and maintaining shareholder margins (private sector), but without and investment in outyear and next generation transformation, workforce, and research, the bailing water approach to management will not allow the organization to survive without adaptation. The article outlines:

  • Management trending to blame external factors instead of innovating, adapting, overcoming.
  • Management shifted to short-term focus and today’s numbers, versus investing in shared resources and pooling for longer haul
  • Managers have focused innovations and transformations more on cost-efficiency and cost-reductions and less on value-adding and increasing relevancy
    • Management education partly to blame focusing on short-term financial outcomes
    • Management shifted to focusing on maximizing shareholders outcomes while ignoring stakeholders needs
  • Instead of focusing on workforce/talent strategy, research, management instead continued focusing on short-term needs
  • Management can complain about government, external factors, but unless management finds way to not just focus on short-term needs, there is limited factors that government execution of new policies can do to stimulate growth
  • Management didn’t mention customer once in the report. C-level types have lost sight of understanding the communities of use, supply, and understanding their market
    • Management has lost ability to look back at the purpose of the program – to create the customer and balance with shareholder value

These observations from the study are very in-line with the Xentity’s published list of anti-patterns core architecture concepts towards view on transformation. As we published back in 2008, Our concepts are biased towards the next “generations” concept. The solutions recommended by the article generally align with our focuses on change as well:

Achieving continuous innovation and customer delight lies outside the performance envelope of firms that are built on hierarchical bureaucracy and focused on short-term gains and the stock price. It requires a fundamentally different way of leading and managing—in effect, a paradigm shift in management. It means:

Harvard Study: Management shiftsXentity Core concepts on addressing change

a shift from controlling individuals to self-organizing teams;

We are growing partners.

a shift from coordinating work by hierarchical bureaucracy to dynamic linking;

We think big on change, while changing small bits at a time

a shift from a preoccupation with economic value to an embrace of values that will grow the firm; and

We support executives transform their visions into action.

a shift from top-down communications to horizontal conversations.We share our concepts and supporting assets openly.

The article solutions wrap with balancing shareholder/budget-interests focus with stakeholder/relevancy focus:

 The article had some follow-on reads relating to this problem and emboldens many of the articles points:

And read also: 

In private and public sector, the management challenge is the same – external factors are continually battling against the mission, but management is doing the same thing to respond: Short-term cost-efficiency or cost-reduction approaches only with focus on the shareholder (private) or year-to-year budgeting (public). Management is not finding ways to balance the short-term and the long-term relevancy, and only education and leadership can help address, not waiting for external factors to make it easier.