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 concepts. PPT 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:
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.