In my prior post, I pointed out that the Zachman Framework is limited (fatally flawed even) by the fact that there is no row to represent the customer viewpoint. In the ensuing discussion, it became obvious that I had not explained why that matters.
Enterprise architecture is described by many monikers:
- Bridge from Strategy to Execution
- Alignment between the Business and IT
But why do we need to bridge strategy to execution, or bridge business to IT? Because customer needs change, and therefore businesses must change. If nothing is changing, then there is no need for EA. Of course, for most of us, that is not a situation we will likely face.
The direction that a business should go is the combination of three things: where there is passion, where the business is positioned well, and where the customer sees value. (this is an abbreviation of the Hedgehog concept). There is a risk, a rather large risk, that the things the customer values will change so radically that the business will find itself passionate and positioned for success in a business that the customer doesn’t care about.
And that is why the Zachman framework is interesting but not useful. It does a good job of modeling the present, and the internal intent of the business, but not the customer’s needs and therefore, not the rationale for change. Put another way, the ZF does a good job of documenting the Inside-Out view, but fails completely to allow anyone to model the Outside-In view. This is simply not effective at the level of business strategy. If we are going to be effective at bridging strategy to execution, we need to be effective at modeling strategy. But to model business strategy, we need to represent the needs of the customer.
If we don’t capture the needs of the customer, we can build the most effective roadmap… to the wrong destination. We would have no way to advise the business that the strategy is brilliantly and wildly incorrect. If a business was made up of little robots, doing everything the executives say, that would not matter, but in most successful businesses, we expect and require that the entire company be tuned to the needs of the marketplace.
In that context, any strategy that leads away from the needs of the customer will be questioned, delayed, and dissipated. That is probably a good thing, but it also means that the business will waste valuable energy fighting itself. Leadership will say “head North” and the managers will say “but the customer is East” and no one will move at all. Time is wasted and resources are wasted.
As Enterprise Architects, we can no longer take a tactical view and simply accept that business strategy, by definition, is correct. The rest of the enterprise will not effectively implement a strategy that does not take into account the needs of the marketplace, so we will not be effective at linking execution to strategy in those cases where strategy is wrong.
In the modern world, where we empower employees, and trust ourselves, and actually require ourselves to think, we must expect resistance if EA amplifies a wrong-headed strategy. If we are to empower execution, we must also empower the executives to examine business strategy in light of customer needs. We must do more than model the goals and processes… we must capture the business model, and all of the influencers, drivers, and assessments that surround it. The customer is not middle-management, where the initiatives are formed. The customer for EA is, and must be, the senior executives where strategy is formed, and where strategy must be examined, questioned, and thoroughly modeled.
That is why I’m passionate about the business motivation model. That is why I believe that the Zachman framework is interesting, but no longer sufficient, for enterprise architecture. EA must be able to capture, model, and examine the influencers for a business, and place the business strategy into context, if we are to be effective at aligning the execution of the enterprise to that strategy. In an empowered enterprise, we have no choice.
Business has changed. Enterprise Architecture must change as well.