//July

Enterprise SOA needs a Federated Evolutionary Modeling Environment

By |2008-07-30T10:33:00+00:00July 30th, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the gap between “what we have” and “what we need” in the Enterprise SOA space.  I think I have a need that is not yet filled by software.  (that I’m aware of).

I put up a post back in June about the difficulty in creating a common information model in a large enterprise, especially one with a federated environment like ours.  (CISR coordination and diversification models).  The feedback I got back was telling.  The majority of respondants told me what I suspected: developing an enterprise-wide common information model was so difficult that many folks considered it unfeasable.  (Actual words included things like “utopian” and “big design up front.”  I’ll stick to “unfeasable”).

That said, I have also stated in public that I believe, firmly, that SOA at the enterprise level requires some levels of agreement on the way that information is understood and coordinated.  Each business unit can own information that is specific to that unit, but in the areas of coordination, where there is value, the business needs to be able to communicate.

So, we have something that is hard to do (build a CIM and keep it up to date).  That something is useful (to get the benefits of Enterprise SOA).  So, why not take the software approach?  After all, I do work at Microsoft.

What business scenario would this tool need to support?

Basically: each business unit would submit their information model to a common repository.  The submitters are architects, and they MUST align the models in some way, even if it is just to show that there are differences.  Services are posted to the same repository, and must be lined up under specific information models.  In order to consume a service, the business has to agree to the information model.  Multiple competing models are allowed to co-exist.  What do we get?  An economic model of self-governance that produces an optimum information model: one where agreement is reached only where agreement makes financial sense.

Specific capabilities:

  • A business unit architect can consume part of an information model without consuming the entire thing.
     
  • A business unit architect can assert part of an information model without proposing the entire thing.
     
  • A business unit architect can offer services tied to their information model.
     
  • A business unit architect can assert that a portion of an information model is “standard” for their use
     
  • A developer, writing software for that business unit, can easily find and adopt their information model.
     
  • A project team can provide a report to a governance committee proving that they are conformant to local standards
     
  • An enterprise architect can run reports to isolate “points of difference” between business unit information models.
     
  • A system designer, intent upon consuming services from another business unit, can begin a workflow to insure that the consuming business unit agrees to the information model of the presenting business unit. (an “information adoption workflow”).
     
  • The workflow needed for a consuming business unit to agree can be custom-tailored to the organization.
     
  • Organizations that present a service have an automatic measurement mechanism built in allowing them to “charge back” the businesses that consume the service.  Various financial models must be supported (one time fee, pay per use, annual licenses).  This provides economic incentive for sharing of code, as well as the incentive to create services that align to commonly needed information models.
     
  • Built in support for the versioning of information models over time (including both past and future versions) allows the business to change their minds, and even chart their course.

That’s what my gut tells me.  This has some pretty interesting effects:

  1. Information architects have a clearly defined and critical role at the earliest stages of a project: get consensus on information model changes needed to allow the consumption of existing, lower cost services.
     
  2. Economics will drive good behavior.  No need for an Enterprise Architect to “design” good behavior. 
     
  3. Less emotion.  There will not be consensus on everything, and this model doesn’t require it.  Consensus will be reached surprisingly easily on some key areas, and it will happen without any architect looking to make it happen.  This helps remove politics from the picture as well.
     
  4. It is easier to adopt existing code than build new code if services, offered by other groups, aligned with the information standards of the consuming business, are already clearly identifiied. 

We may be closer than we think.  With bits from various MS products, and with Oslo coming, this vision is getting closer to reality.  It’s an end-to-end idea. 

Something to consider.  Comments?

Excellence depends on the environment you are in

By |2008-07-30T00:17:00+00:00July 30th, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

Not long ago, I was asked an interesting question about our Enterprise Architecture team.  The question was “Does Microsoft provide the internal support to create an excellent Enterprise Architecture program?”

The answer is “yes” but it got me thinking: what qualifies as “excellent?”  That term is subjective.  In our business, what does it mean to be “excellent” and how might that differ from another business?

Excellent, to me, means that the effort is tailored to the needs of the business.  That includes business strategy, business structure, and corporate culture.  Our business, in Microsoft, is the business of developing and distributing software.  We are pretty good at it, although we have our critics.  

So our EA program is just that: tailored to the needs of Microsoft.  We don’t do more than Microsoft needs, or less than Microsoft demands.  We push the envelope, as change agents and thought leaders, but we don’t crimp creativity… let’s face it: we make money on applied creativity.  If one idea out of 1,000 makes money, we earn back the investment.  It’s a unique space to try to operate an EA program in.  We are excellent, but probably not typical.

I can only conjecture about what “excellent” would look like in another company.  We pay industry analysts and attend conferences, just like many of you do.  Part of the reason: to listen and learn about how practitioners in different companies do what they do.  Basically, we are trying to find out how our peers describe excellence for their own enterprise.

How do you define excellence?  Are you there yet?

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody

By |2008-07-26T02:28:46+00:00July 26th, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

This is the story of four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

Consequently, it wound up that Nobody told Anybody, so Everybody blamed Somebody.

Clarifying the Use Case

By |2008-07-23T11:27:07+00:00July 23rd, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

A Use case is a cool thing.  A little too cool.  The term has been occasionally misused, and in some respects, that misuse diminishes the value of a use case.  To succeed, we have to know what a use case is.   When you are done reading this post , you will still know what a use case is… but you will also know what a use case isn’t.

What a use case is

The following section is a direct excerpt from “Writing Effective Use Cases” by Alistair Cockburn.

“A use case captures a contract between stakeholders of a system about its behavior. The use case describes the system’s behavior under various conditions as the system responds to a request from one of the stakeholders, called the primary actor. The primary actor initiates an interaction with the system to accomplish some goal. The system responds, protecting the interests of all the stakeholders. Different sequences of behavior, or scenarios, can unfold, depending on the particular requests made and the conditions surrounding the request. The use case gathers those different scenarios together.” (Cockburn, 2001)

With all due respect to Cockburn, his discussion doesn’t so much define a use case as describe one.  There are very few formal definitions available in the public domain or in reference works.  Here is my attempt at a more formal definition:

A use case is a formal description of an interaction between an actor (usually a person) and a system for a specific purpose or goal.

Many of the discussions of use cases in the literature go into great detail about the requisite parts of this formal description.  Most include the concept of ‘actors’, ‘use case scenarios,’ ‘preconditions,’ ‘postconditions,’ and a stated ‘goal.’ 

Things to notice

  1. In a use case, there are always at least two actors, and one of them is a system.  The use case is a description of system level interaction… in rich detail. "Enter name and address and click the ‘enter’ button."  There is very little about a use case that is abstract or high level.
     
  2. The amount of formality is not part of the definition.  In fact, Cockburn specifies that you should create a use case in a fairly informal way at first, when the system is still being understood.  Only in a later iteration of the requirements, when the project is funded and the scope is reasonably well understood, should the specifics of the use case be added.

What a use case is not

As I mentioned before, the term "use case" has been used in many ways, and it has been applied in some pretty unusual things.  To be effective, we should recognize that a use case is a tool that is tailored to one purpose, and using it for a different purpose may not be optimal. 

  1. A use case is not a description of a business process.  The use case describes the interaction between a single actor and a system.  At best, that interaction can be considered a single (atomic) activity in a business process.  A business process is much more than that, including many activities from inputs to outputs in support of a goal.  Let’s not pretend that use cases describe business processes.  One activity, perhaps two… that I will buy.  Rarely, if ever, anything more.
     
  2. A use case is not decomposable into other use cases.  It is the atom.  Break it down and you have parts that are not atoms.  Combine use cases and you have composites (molecules) that are not atoms.  A use case is the description of an interaction between person and machine.  That is all.
     
  3. A use case is an inappropriate tool to describe system to system interaction.  Certainly you CAN use a use case this way, just as you CAN drive a screw into wood with a hammer.  But it is not optimal to do so.  A much better set of tools include UML Interaction diagrams, protocol descriptions, standard identifier formats, and WSDL.   
     
  4. A use case is used to elicit requirements but it is not the requirement itself.  Requirements need to be collected and called out as statements.  A couple of noted authors have weighed in on the skills needed to describe and understand requirement statements.  Both analysts and developers should learn these skills.  
     
  5. It is optional to use the use case approach.  While I’m a fan of use cases, I’m also in a role where we have to draw clear distinctions between the work that someone must do and the work that someone should do.  The requirements must be collected.  Use cases should be used.  If you can collect requirements in a different way, that is not wrong.  That said, I’m fairly comfortable stating that the use case approach is a ‘best practice’ for describing requirements to software developers.
     
  6. For traceability and requirements validation, use cases are not the source of requirements.  Requirements come from the business needs, and most of the business needs are fairly easy to connect to specific stages of the business processes (with some fascinating exceptions).  As I pointed out in my prior post, I view the source of most business requirements to be the business processes and customer experience scenarios that software must support.  

    Therefore, if you want to determine if a requirement is needed, or provides value, or has been completely met, it is better to trace the requirement back to the business process.  The use case is an abstraction along the way.  (This is my opinion, of course, and your mileage may vary).

    (note to contributors: the distinction between functional and non-functional requirements is too vague to clearly delineate the requirements that are not easily traced back to business process or user experience scenarios.  There’s another blog post in there somewhere.)

In short, a use case is an essential and valuable tool in the Business Analysts’ toolkit.  Let’s use it wisely.

Using Business Process Models as the source for software requirements

By |2008-07-16T06:11:14+00:00July 16th, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

Requirements elicitation is a critical, yet under-appreciated, activity.  A core capability of business analysts, the ability to get the customers to describe what they want, and need, is both a science and an art.  Requirements elicitation requires equal measures of careful planning, situational awareness, acute listening skills, business acumen, and a kind of optimistic tenacity. 

I have long taken for granted two basic principles of requirements elicitation. 

Requirements_elicitation

First: a rule: The goal of requirements elicitation is to first understand, and then document, the needs of the business for a software solution.

Secondly, a process: if you want to understand a system (be it a software system or a system of business processes), look first at the business problem that it solves.  Look second as how people use that system to solve the problem.  Look next at the information that moves from one point to another.  Look last at the technologies that have been identified and consumed by the system.

To be honest, I don’t know where these notions came from.  I don’t remember reading them in any book, although I suppose that I may have done just that.  They are assumptions that I have used, for a long time, to organize my thinking about software requirements.

Yet when I went looking for industry sources that discuss the need to trace a requirement from the business problem, through business process, I could not find any. 

The "Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK)" published by the International Institute of Business Analysis goes into some depth about requirements elicitation.  in the BABOK, the authors discuss many techniques for getting users to talk, including Brainstorming, Focus Groups, Job Shadowing, and JAD sessions, to name a few.  Unfortunately, their description of the traceability matrix, where a requirement is traced to something valuable, is sparse IMHO (This is true for BABOK version 1.6.  Perhaps the upcoming version 2.0 will provide examples?)

To my surprise: there is no mention of using a model of the business process as the source for software requirements!  As far as the BABOK is concerned, requirements come from people… not from a process model that may have required the consensus of six or sixteen people to help build it.  (Perhaps I missed it.  If there is such a reference, in v1.6 of the BABOK, please reply with the section where I can find it).

Of course, this only meant that I needed to search out other sources of information… Someone, somewhere, must be talking about using business processes as the source for IT software requirements. 

Now, many of you are probably saying: what about use cases?  Aren’t they simply descriptions of a business process, specifically for describing software requirements?

The answer is: go up a few layers of abstraction… away from the software… I’m interested in seeing how the subprocesses, from an enterprise viewpoint, are driving requirements.  I’d like to see how specific activities in a BPMN business process model drive requirements.  The requirements can be captured and shared in the form of a use case, or a big list, or a database in Visual Studio, for all I care.  But we don’t start with the use case.  We start with the process.

Or at least, I do. 

Do you trace your requirements back to business process models?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  I’d love to hear from others.  

Building Conceptual Models, Building Relationships

By |2008-07-15T04:18:41+00:00July 15th, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

Building teamwork, at the enterprise level, is a tricky thing.

As a project team comes together to solve a problem, hopefully you find yourself in the same position that I’ve found myself in many times: with smart experienced people, all motivated to succeed.  Microsoft IT is chock-full of folks like this… and it’s a big organization.  Couple of thousand folks.  So, it’s pretty normal that when I start working with a project, there’s always one or two smart motivated people on the team that I’ve not had the pleasure to work with before.

Thus begins the ‘relationship-building’ aspect of teamwork.  Meet a new person.  Figure out what motivates them.  Communicate.  Share.  Build trust.

Nice thing about a project team: your success is managed.  The majority of the team members are measured by the success of the project, and often they are full time on the project.  People can work together to accomplish things fairly quickly.  This is not usually the case at the enterprise level.

MCj03308460000[1]When working with a distributed organization, virtual teams become more important.  Here, you find smart people, motivated to succeed, but they are nearly never full time.  Getting consensus and buy-in on common goals becomes a high-order problem.  Without it, there is no traction.  And with people contributing a few hours a week, or month, to your deliverables, a lack of traction can be the difference between delivering in June and delivering in October.

And so the ‘relationship-building’ aspect of teamwork, at the enterprise level, is an entirely different game.  At this level, you need to harness the things that people are passionate about.   You need to find the influencers, and influence them.  You need to make sure that subject matter experts feel engaged, and empowered, and heard.

Building a conceptual model is a great way to get that to occur.  Getting agreement on the concepts, and business rules, for a business can bring people together.  It becomes a way to build common ground, establish relationships, and get different people, in different parts of the organization to see value in working together.  It is a work product that people can feel good about, and that will be useful.

When you build the conceptual model, you build relationships with the people whose ideas you are capturing.  Which is more important… the work product or the relationships? 

Both.

Graduation

By |2008-07-14T04:21:32+00:00July 14th, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

Kind of a personal blog today.  My wife just graduated from Lake Washington Technical College.  Two years of studying and sacrifice and working her buns off, and she’s now a newly minted personal trainer / fitness specialist.  I guess I had forgotten how important the ceremony itself is, until I was sitting in the audience watching all the students file past.

Watching her in her cap and gown, I realized just how amazingly proud of her I was.  I always knew.  I’d told her a hundred times or more.  But it is important to watch these moments, to be part of them.  The ceremony matters, in some subtle way.  The ceremony makes it real.

I remember the day I graduated from college.  It took me a while.  I had dropped out of college in my senior year after the college decided not to give me credit for my year of study overseas.  So I quit to go to work.  It was two more years before I went back.  Those were some pretty tough years, for many reasons. 

What amazes me, in hindsight, is that my father didn’t yell or disown me through all of it.  This is a man who had given his life to education.  My father held two doctorate degrees, from London University and Columbia University.  He was internationally known, a full tenured professor at the same University that I had dropped out of, and was voted best Professor by the students more than once.  Yet he stuck with me.  He gave me kindness and he gave me room.

And on the day that I finally graduated, he attended, as all faculty have the right to do, wearing his doctorate sash from Columbia.  And as I filed past the section where the faculty sat, he stood up, reached over the railing, and shook my hand.  He was the only professor to do anything of the sort.  It was the proudest moment of my life.

Ceremonies matter. 

Congratulations Marina.  We are so proud of you.

Marina's Graduation June-08 013 Marina's Graduation June-08 011

Growing Rice in the Desert – the Garden of BPM

By |2008-07-11T10:46:00+00:00July 11th, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

Apparently, I ticked off Bruce Silver.  In case you haven’t heard of the fellow, as I had not, Bruce is a consultant who makes his living providing training on BPM tools and his advice on BPM products.  At least, that’s the impression I got from reading an interview with him on the webzine ebizq.net.  What made this particular industry insider upset?  Well, I was willing to point out that the BPM emperor was wearing a thong 😉 and that is bad for business. 

[note to readers: I made a few updates to this blog entry about 12 hours after it was first published.  The text added is enclosed in braces.]

Sorry, Bruce.  I do wish you the best of luck in your business, but I don’t agree with you. 

Automated BPM is a useful and, at times, valuable tool.  To be clear, by “automated BPM,” I’m referring to any modeling environment where a [business] user can create a visual model that represents a process (assumably a business process), where that [business] user can, from that environment, “implement” that process in such a way that it will execute.  I include a wide swath of tools in this description.

So let me repeat: Automated BPM can be valuable.  There are times when it clearly makes sense.  For those times, and for those companies, I’m sure that you will provide excellent services, and I wish you the best of luck.

However, the problem with BPM is this: [with the exception of the most trivial of workflow applications], the number of situations where that value rises above the cost and complexity of using BPM are comparatively small, compared to the other situations faced by most IT departments.  As a result, any IT department that wishes to delay an investment in [automated] BPM, because they need to first invest in data security, or network reliability, or application integration, or improved business efficiency, or better user experience, is well advised to do so, because most of those things will provide more value, in both the short and long term, than automated BPM.

riceWhy do I say this?  Because the conditions needed for automated BPM to provide significant long-term flexibility are difficult to produce.  It’s like growing rice in a desert.  You can do it, if you try.  You can set up some land, truck in sufficient topsoil, pipe in huge amounts of water, plant trees to protect your fields from sandstorms, and bring in labor that understands the growing of rice to tend to the crops.  You can do all that, and maybe you can sell some rice.   Not many do it. 

The conditions in most IT shops are comparable to the desert.  Information, even in the age of SOA and WOA, is still mostly hidden in silo apps, and functionality is still tied in to tightly coupled business systems where a ‘call from the outside’ will most often invoke complex ‘downstream effects,’ whether you want them or not.  Creating an environment where BPM is a good thing, where true flexibility is achieved, requires creating the fertile soil, and plentiful water, and ample shade, and skilled workers.  That is a worthwhile investment, for the companies with the wherewithal to make it, but not for everyone. 

Any company or consultant that fails to point this out is making an error of omission.  Show me a vendor [of this kind of tool] that is NOT making that error. 

So, Bruce, I’m sorry to be the person who points out that your market is valuable, but not earth-changing.   Don’t fret: The world still needs rice.

As the sun rises on Web2.0, what to do about companies that 'don't play along?'

By |2008-07-08T16:36:00+00:00July 8th, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

Content comes from many places, including news sites, media companies, and individual contributors.  In fact, as the Web 2.0 era becomes ‘mainstream,’ it is becoming common to see sites like MSNBC.com where a news story has room for responses, or CNN.Com where responses are visible on some articles (but not others).  Even the Ladies Home Journal (LHJ.com) makes discussion boards available.

But what about the media companies, from New York Times to Reader’s Digest to my local newspapers (the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) where community and collaborative features are simply not present?

  • Do we make a stink by complaining to the company directly? 
  • Do we “vote with our clicks” by using more Web2.0-oriented sites like MSNBC? 
    • Do we abandon the magazines and newspapers that go along with them?
  • Do we offer up add-on technologies and encourage them to adopt?
  • Or do we ignore it, and continue to use the content sites that do not have Web 2.0 features? 

Maybe I’m spoiled, but I like being able to read a story and comment on it, or read the comments of other readers. 

I read an article in a magazine on an airplane yesterday and wanted to go online to comment on it, and found that I could not.  I found the article heavily biased.  My response: never to read that magazine again. 

What is your opinion?  How important are community features to the business of content publishing (newspapers, magazines, television, radio, etc)?

Preventing Ownerless Activities — the "Blame the Computer" process modeling antipattern – part 2

By |2008-07-06T20:51:00+00:00July 6th, 2008|Enterprise Architecture|

In a prior post, I described a process modeling antipattern which I called “Blame the Computer.”  The feedback helped me to realize that there’s a deeper problem that we need to consider: alignment of ownership between process and IT.

Ownership of a process

We all do this.  We say things that are true at one level of abstraction, but counterproductive or simply not true at another.  One good example: “the business owns business process.”  Obviously true, right?  Not so fast.

Let’s look at a fictitious finance department for a $1B public company with Maria at the head, and Thomas in charge of Credit and Collections.  Staff members report to each of the team managers (not illustrated). 

accounting-dept

Under Thomas, there are some interesting processes for handling the granting of credit, and he wants to optimize those processes because some customers have complained about long delays.

Who owns the processes for “granting credit?”  Thomas, or Maria? 

Let’s ask another question: who owns the IT budget approval process?  If Thomas has his own IT budget approval authority, then I would say that Thomas owns the business processes for his team. 

On the other hand, if Maria owns budget authority for the finance team (as is typical in most companies), then I would say that Maria owns the business processes, not Thomas

So the answer is nuanced.  Yes, the business owns process, but if one person owns the IT budget, and another person owns the business processes, then we run some fairly sizable risks. 

The activities that fall into the ‘white space’

One major source of inefficiency in business occurs when we take the responsibility for cost away from the person or team that most directly drives that cost.  Let’s say that Thomas, with Maria’s consent, sets up an expensive IT requirement.  Doing so looks good in the short term, but increases the cost of data center operations dramatically.

Where does that budget impact occur? 

In the worst of all worlds, IT continuity is paid for by a separate line item in the IT budget, and neither Maria nor Thomas see it.  If they don’t see the cost, they can’t put pressure on it, and IT can’t justify a major (and costly) innovation designed to reduce it.  Basically, the business will do something quick-and-dirty, for short term gain, and live with it forever.  Sound familiar?  If so, this problem is at work in your company.

The average (bad) situation uses the antipattern I described in a prior post (See Blame the Computer).  Maria owns both the overall finance budget, and the finance department’s share of the IT budget, but Thomas owns the business processes for credit and collections.  To complete the scenario: the Business Process Models reinforce the mistaken belief that some activites belong within the swimlane of a system, and not a business team.

The models look like this (click image to enlarge):

Automated Process Example1

So, when Maria is considering the budget requests for her team, who does she turn to?  Her staff, of course.  Their budgets roll up to hers.  Their work (their swimlanes) are her responsibility.  She looks to Thomas, Savita, Brock and Juan.

And the activities that are listed in the “System” swimlanes do not belong to her staff.  They belong to systems.  They have no owner, no defender.  These activities are in the “white space.”

The activities inside a swimlane are defended, sometimes passionately, by Maria’s staff, but not the activities in the swimlanes marked “IT System X.”  Yet, the entire process model, with all of the activities, rolls up to Maria.  These activities are “owned” in name only.  It is not enough to say “the business owns the process.” 

A cure worse than the disease: Drag in IT

So who will own these ‘orphan activities?’  One trick: get IT in the room.  Drag in a ‘solution manager’ or a ‘product owner’ or even an ‘architect’ from the IT staff and tell them to represent the activities that have been delegated to systems. 

But these activities, by themselves, do not solve business problems.  Business systems automate little bits of processes that, by themselves, do nothing.  Systems have no value without the business processes that require them. 

So when a developer or an architect comes to a solution manager and says “invest here,” the answer is always “put that in business terms” or “show me the value.”  There isn’t any, because the activities don’t “belong” to one of Maria’s staff anymore.  There is no value in improving a tiny bit of a process by itself. 

Value to the business comes when the business is invested in the activities, and that happens when those activities are still “owned” by the business.   No activities in the cracks. 

Codifying a mistake

The business process folks who would prefer to place activities in ‘system’ swimlanes are not trying to screw things up.  They are communicating, and they are saying the things that the business expects to hear.  They are mirrors, reflecting the prejudices of the business people who have let some activities slip away into IT.  Business people are not trying to screw things up either, but no business person will ever be rewarded for taking activities INTO their swimlane without an increase in budget.  Even if it belongs there.

But the moment a model appears that show ‘activities’ in the ‘system’ swimlane, those errors in judgement gain credibility.  The dysfunction of the ‘Blame the Computer’ antipattern is propagated with the authority that these models bestow. 

A BPM model created in this way creates a false accuracy.  A BPM model is formal.  Modelers use specific rules, and many will argue passionately about the style and use of particular icons.  The models “look formal” and the business folks who see the models place a higher confidence on them than on their own ‘napkin’ drawings.

And when those modelers, in their attempt to gain acceptance, innocently or not, place an activity in the “system” swimlane, the myth goes on. 

Counteracting the pattern

As BPM modelers, we have a higher responsibility than simply ‘reflect the business.’  A modeler’s responsibility is to help document the business, as part of a larger picture: to improve the business.  That means more than just creating a useful model. 

That means understanding the overall implications of the prejudices of the business and counteracting them.  That means understanding the dysfunction that occurs when Maria ‘owns’ an activity that no one her staff is responsible for improving.  And refusing to give in to that prejudice.

It is easy to communicate with the business if I say what they want to hear. 

It is better to communicate with the business when I say what they need to hear. 

Placing all of the activities within the scope of a team, and not in the scope of a system, is the first step towards health.  Being willing to ask about the efficiency and sequence of those activities is the next step.  

This is what health looks like (click image to enlarge):

Automated Process Example2

Because now, the business will want to change the order of the activities, and improve them, even though some are formalized inside a system.  IT folks have probably been dying to do just that, for ages.  Now there is context for the discussion.

This brings the IT and Business folks together, because the business folks can see the IT folks as wanting the same things: to improve the activities of the business, even when some of those activities happen to be embedded in code.

It ends with coming together.  It starts with saying the right thing.