What are our core architecture concepts

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edited by
Matt Tricomi

Generations – Transformation – Science and Engineering – Earth Change

Since 2001, our core concepts have driven our approach in helping our clients excel. We`ve built our change philosophy on four-core concepts

Our Values on transformation design

  • Generations -We cooperatively design for fundamental forward-looking change factors in your business
  • Transformation -We support executive leaders in transforming their big visions into actionable, pragmatic plans and designs
  • Science and Engineering – Our consultants are data science and engineering subject matter experts with executive experience in organizational development
  • Earth Change – We design for physical factors on people, natural resources, infrastructure, and policy impact balancing policy decisions, developing responsive organizational models and business solutions, with applicable technology use, demonstrating business progress building towards sustainability, responsibility, and quality of life. 

Understanding “Line of Sight” to achieve Transformation across generations

A transformation effort may start with strategic business drivers, looking for process efficiency, cost savings, better utilizing of resources, or looking at ways to make a product or service more highly relevant

Our transformation and analysis approach, leveraging enterprise and segment portfolio information and collaboration, looks to help understand your directive, motivating factors, immediate and mid-term, to help derive the right implementable and relevant architecture, transition plan, and implementation guidance.

Our model is built on developing and iterating upon your line of sight, building towards a better understanding of your project, program, line of business, segment, and enterprise. 

Read more on how the open Methodology for Business Transformation approach was developed .

Our methodology and training focuses transformation leadership.

Leadership that can help improve customer effectiveness and efficiency by proactively managing risk and delivering results through strong, facilitated execution or increase relevancy and economics of existing or new product lines and services.  In working with customers, Xentity provides integrated oversight of the parts that need to be connected, understood, and communicated prior to significant investment.  This approach enables Xentity to understand value opportunities and risk, determine mitigation strategies, and support customer awareness on how to realize recommendations.  Once decisions and investments have been made, Xentity utilizes strong communication and project management skills to facilitate change. The methodology work we developed has been recognized and adopted as Federal Government best practices by the U.S. OMB.

We have blogged in the past on over twenty patterns or anti-patterns where architecture and governance can help. Also, please review our Blog Post on “Why We exist?” that further describes why we chose these concepts.

In short, these concepts stem from looking External Pressure Trends observed in working with our executive clients. To some, this may seem a bit dramatic, but consider the following factors happening globally: World Population 2x in a generation, Looming U.S. brain drain, Legacy Physical Resources reaching limits, Sensationalizing without context to masses, Rapidly Changing consumption patterns, Faster, Global Transactions, Moore’s Law too fast?, Shorter Term Policy, Misaligned Investment, Data Analysis Obsession, The call for too much or wrong data and Longer Term Impacts, Longer Time to Market.

We support our clients in making designs that consider the needed scope

Before we engage, we evaluate these anti-patterns and trends to better understand what is causing failure, delay, trepidation towards what is needed. With that, we tailor engagements with:

  • reasonable transition based on their mission needs and investment plans 
  • Analyze what can be re-used in management techniques, change management, governance, and overall portfolio
  • Understand gaps, risks and provide solutions and services to government compliance, response, and business support
  • Help the transformation recommendations be vetted into acquisition, triage, planning, and designing language and principles
  • Build designs, architectures, and plans that breeds tactical success for management and implementers towards desired strategy
  • Strategically Layer in various, and possibly overkill change communications techniques. such as:
    • Manage the flow of new knowledge across the organizational influencing personas
    • understand the transformational chess or Sun-Tzu nature of influence and decisions
    • use tools that help differentiate efforts from emails and websites such as Videos, push media, and socialization and collaboration.
  • Transition, educate, and grow skills of organization and implementation teams to be able to successfully implement the design and manage the complicated compliance nature of large government or commercial projects.

Linking segment architecture to the IT Investment Maturity Framework

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edited by
Matt Tricomi

As we noted in Developing Our Approach, we linked the methodology to existing maturity models.

For background, specifically, one of the core maturity frameworks is the GAO ITIM Framework – (IT Investment Maturity) – has been the embedded driving basis for the Federal Government OMB Capital Planning and Investment Contraol, based on OMB Directive A-130 for selecting, controlling, and evaluating investment for many years.

When developing the five phases – analyzing segment readiness, charter & sponsorship, analysis & blueprint, execute & transition (implement), and maintain/manage – these were closely aligned to ITIM. The graphic below captures the overlap (pink) of the segment architecture with the maturity stages as well the enterprise architecture (blue) overlap for setting up tools, methods, goals; principles, criteria, and compliance; and then governance & tracking (PMO). 

Breaking the Change Phases and alignment to ITIM maturity stages down

Phase 1 of the segment methods aligns directly with GAO ITIM stage 1. You first need to get your portfolio understood.

ITIM Stage 2 requires the architecture org to select their tools, methods, and goals to assure any transformative teams agree to the rules and tools to help change the investment, but in addition the transformation team in phase 2 needs to have solid backing of leadership and definition. You cannot miss this soft science aspect. Without leadership, change concepts become shelfware all ltoo quickly. Just having that builds your chance or foundation of solid investment.

ITIM Stage 3 talks about having a well-defined portfolio to guide criteria for investment selection. This means architecture needs to have its principles, criteria, and compliance defined so when an investment comes up for change recommendations, the review is based on as objective review as possible. This is important again as change can be subjective as consensus is formed, so given such, definition of how to handle rationalization and remediation of decisions is key. Without this guidance, investment change wills stall at this point.

ITIM Stage 4 is where the change phase 3 analysis and recommendations is needed. If you do not have the previous ITIM stages and change phases executed, this puts instituting true change at risk of political, coup, disenchantment and many other misalignment, anthropological or bureaucratic issues. 

ITIM Stage 5 essentially shows an organization has change maturity in its blood and can do segment phase 5 management and maintenance of change.

Where ITIM measures maturity, the approach lends to how to progress and when to progress to each maturity stage – for a segment. If this is a focus, take a chance to digest the ITIM maturity definition – it is nothing but complete. As well, reviewing the transformation approaches in MBT or FSAM. 

Developing a Transformation Approach

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Matt Tricomi

In 2004, when developing out an approach for business transformation, our primary goal of transformation has been to mature the investment through addressing transformation core architecture concepts discussed such as Paving Cowpaths, improving bad data lifecycles, avoiding redundant buying, balancing compliance with aligning programs, aligning products and services directly to performance drivers, and addressing inefficiencies. Our Team was under a Northrop-Grumman Contract at the Department of the Interior. Department of the Interior had multiple representatives across the CIO and Management and Budget office functions guiding and approving the enhancements.  There were three team members from Xentity, one from Phase One Consulting Group, and One from IBM and the project included management oversight by Northrop-Grumman. 

The method would provide a collaborative way to bring cross-functional business representation with the architecture analysts and consulting service to walk through major analysis steps:

  • Initiating the project 
  • Scoping the segment
  • Business analysis
  • Technical analysis
  • Author recommendation set as blueprint
  • Incorporate into Enterprise Plan and Portfolio

We knew we wanted to use architecture techniques to help, but wanted to assure architecture did not follow the path that appeared for the last fifteen years which resulted in completing the information needed to assess portfolio then serially address change.

That approach would and has not engage executive interest, and likely, give the time it takes to collect the information and map to taxonomies (which needed to be developed and fostered), the information, which is time-sensitive, thus perishable, would be stale. 

 The result was the Methodology for Business Transformation version 1.0.

Lessons Learned

We used the method and applied against four major mission area blueprints, but this was a version 1.0 and we ran into several major issues – actually, we logged around 100 improvements and 8 minor and sub-minor revisions resulting in MBT 1.5. We found issues in: Enterprise Governance, OMB Functions, Change Management, Performance, CIO Office, Scoring, Solution, Governance, Cost Benefit, and General. But the largest issues were not in the analysis, but the wrappers around the method. Here are the top two lessons plus general notes summary of the over 100 improvements discovered

#1 Lesson Learned – Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock

Instead, for large organizations ($100 million to $1 billion), we knew we wanted to take a segment approach to building out the information while moving through the phases of transformation. In our first draft of the resulting segment analysis method, the transformation phases resulted in starting with Phase 3.

The clock would start ticking for the architecture as soon as a team was formed, funding for the team assigned, and the project was kicked off.

This was a major issue after the first four blueprints, as we missed the key executive steps for assigning a sponsorship concept. Meaning, the definiition for success was in the eye of the beholder – the executive. We skipped the critical step of defining the sponsor and their executive level needs – were they interested in savings, product expansion? What Architecture Concepts?


#2 Provide precedence-based guidance on how far to mature

We knew we didnt want to re-invent how we develop service level maturity

In 2005, as part of looking at our transformation approach, we examined the GAO INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT A Framework for Assessing and Improving Process Maturity – (ITIM) – detailing “Select, Control, Evaluate” phases of management, background on proposed processes to improve IT Investment Management. 

And for guiding the maturity for the actual capabilties, we relied heavily on IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL v3) Management Best Practices (ITIL) to help in guiding how to move from reactive service to proactive and not reach to far while gaining improvements and efficiency


 

#3 Showing the line of sight

We needed to show clearly how the analysis and resulting work products supporting across the business drivers, and the full business value chain.

Some Enterprise Architecture experts may argue the existing Frameworks such as Zachman accomplishes that, and it does in a library function, but not in a journalism function which tells it in story mode and backpockets the work products as due diligence. 

#4 Change is the message, EA is just a set of tools – Get over ourselves

This moved Enterprise Architecture out of being front and center and moved the mission of the segment analysis first. EA became a supporting role, and we would attempt to actually remove EA from the vernacular. The obvious reaction is this was done because of the brand beating it has taken since 1996 when the intentions of Clinger-Cohen reduced EA into an IT compliance reporting role. It was actually moreso of EA`s own culture to put EA at the center of the universe when analyzing, ideating, managing change is at the center.

 

 

In our over 100 other improvements, other areas highlighted are

  • Not enough clarity on the varying roles of Enterprise Governance
  • Most transformations have strong ties to annual Budget formulation and execution activities for example, but we didnt align that enough
  • Aligning Calendars and timing OMB and Agency Management and Budget Functions such as Planning and Performance Management, Workforce Strategy, Acquisition, etc.
  • Change Management truly missed for guiding how to implement, assess and manage risk, developing transition management capability (i.e. a PMO)
  • Performance
  • Find ways to integrate other CIO Information Management requirements to synchronize data calls across privacy, records, security, CPIC further
  • Scoring for organizational readiness as well as including Scoring framework requirements from OMB, GAO, and the like to help improve the architecture maturty scoring
  • Improved linkage to work products and guidance that Solution architecture could use
  • Govenrnance
  • Cost Benefit missing in guiding alternative analysis
  • General iterations on language consistency (i.e. its work product not artifact), updating templates, improving checklists, improving training and creating hands-on exercises, helping customize to audiences

The result ended up not being a full major release, as we had yet to address cultural transformation issues and still had additional concepts to consider for linking other ways to path through the method more as an approach.

The supporting toolkit for MBT is a large difference maker from whitepaper procedures or sample templates:

(2008: Later note, the MBT 1.5 ended up becoming the core method and set of templates for the Federal Segment Architecture Methodology (FSAM) which continues in aspects as a basis to the Common Approach to Federal Enterprise Architecture). Two team members from Phase One Consulting Group, one of which on the original MBT team, supported this effort.

MBT has since been validated by the following organizations:

Layering Cultural and Business Transformation (Part 5)

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edited by
Matt Tricomi

Taking the Agency “X” example, what would they do. They need to integrate the need for integrated reaction between soft and hard science driven organizations. A way to do this is introduce Integrated Change Management as a way to begin to build into the culture simply working together more, appreciating each others drivers, SWOT factors, and critical success factors. Essentially, they need to get to know each other first, before a fancy 13-step process can cure their anonymity.

Action 1: Introduce Integrated Change Management Between Business and Technology

Many groups see this, and start off from a domain-centric approach. Integrated Change management could focus on a few aspects first – together

  • Program and CIO Service Management Efforts
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Enterprise Portfolio Management
  • Capital Planning

All each though only addressing parts of the reaction, at least it begins to blend the varying cultures and beings to show demonstration to the other cultures that burying the hard science in Cost Center models and Nerd funded research areas will only limit their understanding of true business service needs. And vice-versa, by not seeing past the technology and engineering service providers lack of communication skills, and helping them share what it is they need to be successful for them as a service center, they will never achieve, nor understand the business. 

Action 2: Help CIO Shop understand the imprint of history more

So, if the CIO shop is to initiate this relations, as many initiatives are being initiated as such, will required integrated change management efforts to be more sensitive to the  historical imprint of Agency “X”s long history and varying set of challenges than in hard science’s own short history.

Help paint the picture how the softer science leaders think and what they appreciate and will understand. One technique is to use the D.I.S.C model. which can be used to demonstrate the different personalities of executive entities. 

The politicals select their value framework based on long-term institutional battles that cross multi-generations of political leaning, and have little appreciation for the programmatic institutional needs to run the organizations core missions business.

The institutional leaders respond to that with a long time history of showing evaluations of past failures and looking forward they are generally risk adverse to selecting new products or services.

Those that have crossed the line between supporting politicals can typically been seen as lightly challenging recent policy evaluations, usually of the predecessor, but limt challenging the selection or advisory of new policies as that is limited to the politicals selected executive trusted advisor. Those that try to enter that space get squashed easily, so instead the challengers try hard to help the business find ways to react to the politicals 3-year emerging critical policy and put aside other past 3-year high priorities. This means business operation internal initiatives need to be seeded very early to gain any sort of adoption.

Finally, the Innovators, who in one positive light until the last few years, have been isolated in cost center land and have been seen as a budget line item, to cut and add at will. But, when Agency “X” and rest of government entered into technology-based self-service for cost and ease of access reasons, this cost center view to service center view of technology as what they unknowingly signed onto – bringing the Nerds to the C-level big table and letting be taught and integrate in resolution ideation. To do this, Agency “X” would need to be expanding and absorbing interaction with other domains to result in the desired outcomes. A logical order alone will not successfully achieve integrating. Based on sphere of influence within the culture, the processes will merge.

Action 3: Eat some dogfood

How Agency “X” will mature into this structure will depend on adoption. Currently Agency “X” is exploring eating their own dogfood and integrating CIO functions in sharing how they mange the information portfolio across all information assurance functions (CPIC, Records, Privacy, Security, Enterprise Architecture, etc.).

These early adopters are nice, but where integrating the softer science management and budget functions of Strategic Planning, Workforce/Policy Planning, and establishing functional PMOs will be challenges. CIO shops have drank the kool aid of hard science management needed, and can be taught softer science techniques, but the softer science organizations, trained for 20, 30 years of government service obfuscated from technology modernizations and only visibility are the 80% of IT implementation failures will be an uphill battle. Softer Science taught managers, who have expectations in strong communication, and less strong technology interests and appetites, have little patience for technical mumbo-jumbo, process, or even 3 boxes and a couple arrows.

Action 4: If general adoption, the first transformation blueprint that should be done is a management planning one – or at least each blueprint needs to have a component addressing the program and resource management slice of bread around the core mission blueprint

Before going to far, assure the management is prepared to evaluate itself while modernizing or ideating mission improvements. As the Porter Value Chain Suggests, as you look at the value of the primary activities, you need to understand how the supporting activities can coalesce and plan, communicate, budget, invest, procure, and govern together. Especially as those support functions get more and more shared as services (which is another talk in and of itself).

Conclusion

Culture is generations of history of successes and failures. EA needs to realize when introducing change these factors at the organization EA is supporting change within. Cookie-cutter approaches will not work without flexibility in understanding high-level cultural, policy, and innovation successes and failures over time.

Agency “X” is using this knowledge of its culture to effect change, and begin to create an integrated change management that is sensitive to change adoption and support.

NOTE:

This information was produced with information research from Xentity. Intellectual Property is protected.

Layering Cultural and Business Transformation (Part 4)

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Civilian Agency X Case Study

“X” agency Reacts multiple ways

Policy Management attempts to be Level 3 Upper Left “C”, but revolving door limits Level 1 as a Left Side “I”– “X” agency reacts to societal change in view or mission needs (resource use, protection, etc.) but has yet to implement effective performance management. Still reacting to long-term goals (with century forward looking impacts), much of societal pressures are only …

Program Management waffles between Maturity level 2 and 3 – At best they are a Right “C” – “X” agency is responding quite well to the upper part of the “C” based on OMB guidance and has implemented several initially stove-piped approaches.

IT Management is purely a Level 1 Right “I” – “X” agency still has 40% or so of its IT investments under this approach – under the O&M budget, and possibly more given many scientific applications are funded via grants bypassing local/direct need for business and governance involvement. Technologists are driving blind to business needs, not because of lack of competence, but there are language barriers between hard science approach and soft-side approach limiting managements capability to sponsor initiatives. Total Cost of ownership each year run up, and user experience gets impacted, thus solution relevancy leans towards an online DMV line metaphorically.

Real Examples:

– “X” agency plays to longer-term goals of managing the stewardship responsible resources. Short-term goals which take a lot of resources, but as their goals are not in national spotlight, but more national resource infrastructure, they will get prioritized higher due to the societal reaction to advance and legislate more there. Because of that the mission of “X” agency gets compromised and sub-cultures have reacted autonomously to meet their missions.

– This allowed technology investments to pass thru immediately to their specific products and services thus likely duplicating many supporting products, services, and components thru O&M budgets rather than centralized financial controls.

– Middle-management efforts to integrate, in recent decades at “X” agency for instance, have failed to establish integrated change management as the O&M folks still controlled the strings to their purse, and didn’t have to step up to bat.

   – These integrated change management approaches

Whats this mean to “X” agency Transformation efforts?

Performance measurement – Planning, proof of alignment to strategic planning, and capability to actually measures performance for intermediate proof is QUITE needed. Outreach that CIO driven transformation is not a silo’d change management and need to combine with other processes in Capital Planning, Workforce Planning, Security, etc., but integrated hard science techniques with program and policy offices and executives is simply a necessary beast of technology advancement. Without this – transformation will not succeed. Transformation would go in assuming the culture will accept the fact they will perform and it will work if you simply manage the business…

BUT ALAS, this is not true, and CIO leaders are guilty til proven innocent by our performance, mostly under own demise of initial and true hard science governed role as cost center compliance executives instead of service center relevance enabler.

The final part of this study calls out the recommended steps to consider to help bring the cultures together before undertaking or to help in risk mitigation when undertaking a business transformation