The architecture of enterprise strategy.
Architecture creates spaces for functions; Strategy creates functions for spaces. On with the show. Featuring ...taunts, riffs and reminders to find and fix the defects, omissions and errors in your enterprise mojo. Find or predict particular issues via the text-search tool, the archive categories, or (in the archives) the Topical Framework. To kvetch or co-conspire: comment on any articles, click here to contact me via email, or just gossip across your full six degrees of separation.
June 14, 2013
Context and Social Knowledge
People think in different ways under different circumstances. Although persuasion has always been a stock-in-trade of promotional communications, the phenomenon of social networking has made individuals far more sensitive to the range and influence of alternative communications sources. Meanwhile, the individual is more empowered than ever to establish their own presence in a wide variety of locations for interactions.
This makes acknowledgement and management of contexts a foreground issue of planning, for more types of communications than ever. To create sustained opportunities to communicate, promoters in communications are faced with the choice to follow the targeted individual across their navigations in the network, and to have a presence of their own waiting for the arrival of the individual at different places and times.
A critical factor in this scenario is the mindset that the communicator’s target individual brings to communications. As behavioral economists and others increasingly point out, that mindset naturally makes up much of the context predisposing how the content of the communications will be received, and how the individual will act in the situation at hand.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 6:14 PM
June 13, 2013
Performance Improvement, Improved
In a web lookup of a generalized definition of governance, the following is typical of the results:
"governing... relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance." (source: Wikipedia)
This is highly familiar in the context of managing performance; and by determining how things will be reported, it sets the stage for acquiring the information needed to support decisions about how to conduct improvement.
The following generally illustrates how that is necessary but now insufficient. The illustration provides a high-level model of the larger perspective now required by the state of continual change presented in requirements, types of work, and providers of work. It includes key touch-points for monitoring and learning, as well as for measurement and strategy.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 2:36 PM
June 12, 2013
Who's Your Data Now?
Finally: something other than meteorology and poker to make big data swagga.
The purpose of design is to fit the solution to the purpose of the user. But the great thing about good design is that it actually tells people how to use the solution before they even necessarily knew they wanted it.
As companies depend more and more on innovation and virtual personalization to generate competitive differences, the design discipline becomes more and more important as the leadoff effort. Prospective customers already know more than they ever did before, and they don't wait for products; they imagine them. There is a new type of information asymmetry, in which the customers know more about what is doable than the provider does, because their exposure to what is being done is comparatively vast. This means that the basis for making a choice leans heavily towards what is preferred by the prospect instead of just what is available to the prospect; and the Provider must learn to identify the signals of preference and convincingly align with what they reveal.
What makes this difficult is the gap between the intuition that the Provider can bring to studying prospects, and the imagination that the prospects exhibit in their expectations. Currently, a simplified way of describing this gap is that providers need to tell prospects what the prospects should want to be like, and prospects want to tell providers what products and solutions should be like. It means that the Provider must arrive at a stronger, more compelling idea about the Prospect than the Prospect already gets about themselves from their intensively automated social communications. The best representation of the provider's intuition is in asking "what if?" about prospects; the concept of value is the story composed and presented back to the prospect when the results of "what if" are composed within the context of the prospect's imagination.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 6:37 PM
June 10, 2013
Technologies for handling massive amounts of data are causing companies to re-assess their confidence in the way they make decisions. What they are hearing is that the probability of being inadequately informed is very high, and that because of competition there is not much time to fix the problem. Urgency motivates both hype (at worst) and concentration (at best). Both paths help to overcome skepticism or unfamiliarity with earlier eras of information management strategies. But "bringing in the new" puts organizations in the position of needing to sort out what they already have from what they need, starting with being able to see what can be affected by different new solutions.
Currently this means identifying what aspects of Big Data are really important and how. Analytics and Business Intelligence have both been general purpose predecessors to Big Data. They have been applicable to specified problems in the form of platforms supporting solutions. With Big Data, technology infrastructure for information management has radically changed again, but not all solutions need to use the infrastructure in the same way.
The following is not a specification or scoping of any designated solution. Instead, it describes what is being processed by the overall capability offered through the new system implementations available within Big Data. The description is a conceptual modeling of the information management taking place between the recognition of data and the recognition of circumstances that can be managed by data-driven decisions.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 8:43 PM
June 9, 2013
The Value of Agile Services
For parties first encountering ITIL, the 2011 update of ITIL v3 makes it more explicit that the services orientation to business IT is more about the ability for the business to communicate and track service requirements on business terms instead of on systems management terms. This ability still relies on having management processes that generate the appropriate information at the right times. Adopting the processes, therefore, amounts to accepting the information model that provides the visibility needed as decision support.
In 2013, however, the business has a comfortable opportunity with SaaS and IaaS to acquire and use services without many of the responsibilities for managing their production. This has narrowed the gap between strategy and execution in a way that allows strategy to be more iterative and therefore more interesting and useful.
At the same time, competition and innovation have both increased, fueling greater need for the advantages of fast time to market provided by Agile development. The perspective of being a rapid developer is one way to look at service production, and in that sense it obviously intersects with service management concerns. But the ITIL practice of ITSM, which can involve a high degree of operational complexity, historically proceeds and matures at a pace not necessarily well suited to propelling rapid time to market.
This is where the consideration of ITIL needs to be held close to its origination and not arbitrarily bent towards the mantra of speed. Aside from the matter of resources and attention span, Agile and ITSM (as per ITIL) do not compete with each other. ITSM should continue to be seen as a practice that provides assurance of satisfactory business utility of necessary services. But a little-discussed aspect of ITIL is that it helps explain how the business can be agnostic to specific services. ITIL assumes that the business can shop, but that it needs to shop wisely with both financial and risk considerations. Meanwhile, the area of ITSM cross-over with Agile should be focused on co-operatively managing service Quality. A framework for Quality will show where Agile and ITSM agree on accountabilities and responsibilities that are made visible to the business consumer.
Prior to that quality framework, the overall alignment of Agile and ITSM to business strategy is the mapping needed to guide a value assessment of the current state of abilities and dependencies in service production and provision. This higher-level view calls out the organizational compartments more quickly, which in turn exposes a baseline to be refined for improving the assignments and expectations applied to all candidate responsible parties in production and provision.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 11:11 AM
June 6, 2013
Modeling Multi-channel Contact Interaction
Capturing and analyzing information in engagements with 2nd party and 3rd party contacts has the special purpose of identifying indicators supporting managed communications.
It is important to understand that, for parties contacting any facility representing the provider business or organization, even interactions conducted entirely through self-service mechanisms are experienced essentially as communications events, unless proved otherwise. A lack of communications is experienced as potentially being a failure of actual engagement. This puts feedback front and center, with strategic feedback being organized to convey acknowledgement and co-operation with the agenda of the contacting party or “Contact”.
An agenda-based approach to managing the relationship through communications requires the ability to anticipate and detect context as it arises and even evolves during engagement. The requirement for management is to provide a communications environment that includes the capability to quickly identify the key topics and goals presented by the Contact, even if the presentation is implied instead of expressed. Multiple channels of Contact communication must have integrations that allow the contact to move across channels with the context and its evolution preserved.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 8:22 PM
June 5, 2013
Migration to Innovation
Clouds of Change
Information Technology is the “vehicle” driven by the business in its pursuit of operational impacts that create opportunities, grow gains from interactions, and maintain positions of advantage and readiness over time.
Increasingly, market conditions point to the need for identifying innovations that change operations, leaving them running in ways no longer constrained by the support mechanisms of a previous generation – mechanisms including older modes of technology acquisition, configuration, distribution and maintenance.
The key to capitalizing on innovations begins with an adequate awareness of the business requirements (goals) that should be affected. However, the actual efficacy of innovations is dependent on absorbing them into routine, rather than tending to them indefinitely as exceptions. The business should be able to drive "the vehicle" day-to-day, confident that its necessary integrity and completeness is present by design, not transitory or undetermined due to the introduction of innovations.
For innovations to be creatively constructive instead of surprisingly disruptive, a capability for strategic adaptations must be pursued even more than the particular innovations themselves. Otherwise, the result is more highly probable to result in wasted opportunity than in advantageous progress. Operations themselves must migrate, through adaptation, to the future offered by innovations. Migration planning is the critical prerequisite.
The plan must begin with a definition of the target state. This must represent a stable set of operational capabilities and conditions. It makes sense to acknowledge that this steady-state will be engineered, not simply discovered.
Business readiness: Innovations tend to cycle through different phases in both production and provision. New innovations may revisit and revise foundation work, alter intermediary delivery methods, or reformulate the packaged scope of functionality that touches the end-user who requests access and support.
Innovations originate at the industrial, commercial, and local in-house company levels. That is, sources of innovations come from outside of the company, from within company relationships to the outside, and also purely from within the company. Regardless of specific offerings, each source offers a different type of opportunity to strengthen key pursuits made by IT operations to enable business processes. These opportunities are identified as steps in the migration path.
In archestra modeling, we have mapped their alignment both in broad historical trending as evolution, and at a campaign level as change management. In any I.T. investment scenario, both of these -- evolution and change management -- must be entirely intentional, and now, increasingly proactive.
But because the ongoing introductions of innovations occur across a scope largely independent of the decisions of any one company, IT operations for business must include a research function that continually discovers and assesses upcoming and maturing offers -- in terms of their probable relevance to adaptation plans, not just to future business goals.
In the combination of research and change management, the company can make better decisions on how to divide responsibilities amongst producers and providers, keeping them mapped to an iterative plan for continuing forward progress. Adaptation strategies build reliable but flexible roadmaps from this calculated orchestration of change.
See the full pdf of this discussion:
To review and discuss the archestra frameworks and models for identifying and mapping migration requirements, contact archestra by email.
(c) 2013 Malcolm Ryder / archestra
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 4:47 PM
June 3, 2013
Does ITIL have an ROI?
Automation continues to change the labor of managing operations, by removing the need for managers to attend to things that engineers have already modeled and integrated. The more agreement there is on how a system should behave, the more automation can package it in a container, leaving either fewer or different "user-serviceable parts" outside. This is also the promise of automated workflow, which in turn intends to make "best practice" processes need less and less variety, as well as reduced care and feeding.
Clearly, an investment in this reduction and reassignment of labor, from engineering maintenance to functional application, eliminates non-progressive costs and releases resources to support progressive efforts. We hope to spend a buck in order to save a buck and a half. But this investment does not cause the recovered or conserved resources to drive progress. For that reason it is important to immediately declare the difference between "best practice" and "high-worth".
We know that improved management of resources is valuable, so why "high worth" instead of just "high value"? The interesting difference between value and worth is simple but huge: value is always, by definition, a difference achieved; but worth is how that difference is used. An example of valuable best practice is the adoption of standards; an example of high-worth usage is in strategy.
In the framework below, the value of applying best practice is mapped to a level of worth that is predicated on the achievement of "business" value. By minimizing risk and maximizing efficiency at an operational level, best practice produces procedural consistency that makes the use of procedures far more reliable for more predictable purposes. This relationship of practice to procedure is exploited for worth by applying the procedures to situations in which a necessary and distinctive difference must be made for the business, by the business. Having the difference be made by the business is the plain language way of pointing at "business capability". Such capability has at least three critical dimensions: the ability to create or recognize opportunity; the competency to address the opportunity, and the maturity to sustain the competency at an appropriate level versus the circumstances distinguishing the opportunity.
The default scenario for positive ROI based on best practice is that business processes, on demand, will successfully rely on supporting operations. This reliability can be graded, and the impact of the supported business processes can be graded, such that a correlation of the two may be sought, tracked, and pursued. Since the point of best practice is to generate the reliability, the implementation of best practice is the investment in the ROI equation; the return in the equation is the most highly probable impact of the business process(es) designed to succeed with that reliability.
For IT services managers, ITIL holds a defacto position as the most trusted encyclopedia of best practice; predominantly, it has inherent value simply as knowledge. In cases where lack of knowledge is sustaining unacceptable risk and inefficiency, validated knowledge is never debated as having value. In effect, the source of value in ITIL is validation. But the worth of ITIL is neither inherent, nor a default probability. The worth of ITIL is entirely a contextual issue, driven by it's implementation for strategic purposes instead of for operational ones. That said, the following is also true: if your line of business is "reliable operations", then ITIL's inherent value has high worth. Due to the rapidly maturing world of service automation, this is becoming a more important observation than ever; many organizations or sub-organizations may need to respond immediately by reassessing their actual current versus necessary business stance.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 11:24 AM
June 2, 2013
Selling Business Innovation
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 1:52 PM
June 1, 2013
Reengineering Management StrategyThe relationship of strategy to management normally puts management in the position of "proving out" strategy, under the umbrella of performance. But most management occurs for the purpose of stabilizing "productivity", through pursuing "effectiveness" from committed resources as ROI. The current norm is to try to bridge the difference by aligning people/process/info/technology into a logic of production.
However, for most organizations, resources are primarily Constraints. This includes people, money, time and materials (including tools). The other salient dimension is Purpose, held in place by methods, information (analysis), processes and strategy. Purpose is notable in that it is unlimited in supply but limited by definitions. Actual productivity is an effect of managing purpose against constraints. But productivity supplies the supports for performance by building up the ability to create and exploit opportunities on demand.
The Imperative for CMDB Redesign
Few strategies can succeed now without IT services continuously fueling business processes. But the continuity is itself challenged by relentless changes in the enabling infrastructure configurations supporting services. Big Data, Service Oriented Architecture, XaaS and Agile are just some of the reasons why building a CMDB on ideas enshrined back in 2004 is probably a waste of time. Yet most CMDBs that fail are mainly crushed by operating cultures. The inability to rationally model dynamic operations that are the basis of IT services is a problem of ontologies, taxonomies and abstraction. Without solving that problem, configuration management is a highly brittle discipline.
Designing for management must precede building for execution. But for most organizations needing a CMDB, the first step is to rehabilitate the modes of representing the built environment in order to correctly identify the difference between services and infrastructure.
In the archestra design model, the CMDB results from an across-the-board resolution of the cultural missteps that prevent the information from being semantically practical across domains and therefore appropriate to business-scale services. The copyrighted full design model is not available for general distribution. To review the model contact archestra via email.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 1:20 PM
May 31, 2013
The Ethics of Social Information
Enthusiasm for leveraging social networking creates an atmosphere in which the line between "public" and "publicity" is routinely moved, smudged or erased -- due to lack of policies, disregard for having social rules of engagement instead of commercial rules, and the excitement of what seems like unlimited communication (self disclosure) and unlimited discovery (attention). But in this frontier land of presence, the challenge is not to identify appropriate ways of acting; rather, it is simply to actually be appropriate.
A critical factor of future improvement lies in avoiding artificial rationalizing of research on individuals outside of building trusted relationships. Mature relationships range widely in depth and purpose, yet all mature relationships are consensual.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 10:20 PM
May 21, 2013
When results indicate that a strategy has failed, many reasons may be candidates for the role of root cause.
We can list them; but before even doing that, the most important thing to remember is that strategy does not produce results. Instead, the purpose and effect of strategy is to produce opportunities that allow execution to generate results. Executing the strategy and executing the results are, in fact, two different efforts. The contest between post-facto results and predicted feasibility can determine whether strategy will actually have a meaningful role or not as a success factor of the business.
To make this more clear, it helps to change the prevailing language a bit. There is a popular notion of "operationalizing strategy", but this phrase is increasingly proving to be an unfortunate contraction. Instead, Strategy is realized, while Execution is operationalized.
Most strategists learn that strategy requires modeling and remodeling designated investments, arrangements, and deployments on a continuous basis -- aimed at gaining and holding one or more positions from which to operate. Knowing that changing circumstances will challenge the decisions that were already made, the strategist is dependent on the resolve of the authorities who allow the investing, arranging and deploying that realizes strategy.
Confidence versus capability -- The problem for the strategist is that most of the time, that very resolve hinges on the results of execution. There is a tension of implied causality between strategic dictates and execution results -- and that implication gets rapidly interpreted as justification. But in the world dominated by the results point-of-view, that implication, and the resolve ultimately drawn from it, is not based on the assumptions that actually make the strategy the genesis of opportunity and are its raison d'etre. In other words, the resolve offered to sustain the strategy is often based on the wrong thing.
Instead of implied causality, there should be a reasonable notion of operational "readiness" (feasibility). This is most often based on assumptions, and moreso on presumptions, that have to do with the tactics and competencies that sit between the strategy and the execution. In fact, we find characteristic presumptions and assumptions spanned across strategy, tactics, competencies, and execution.
For example, in Strategy, we generally have assumed circumstantial differentiation (logically defensible relative advantages), and presumed supportive momentum. Although the specific assumptions and presumptions may vary, both types are always included.
Likewise, we can elaborate Tactics, Competencies, and Execution in deeper detail.
As listed in the framework shown here, the span of assumptions mainly falls under the conduct of "practices". Meanwhile, the accompanying span of presumptions falls under a certain industriousness calibrated by "supervision".
Identifying the arenas of practices and supervision helps to explain why it is that when things go wrong, the early (and too easy) suspicion is that someone was not qualified to be responsible and/or someone took their eye off the ball.
But frequently that suspicion turns out to be an incorrect assessment. After all, large organizations today maintain a nearly fanatical pursuit of tracking data for runtime accountability and trending; it is improbable that a determined manager will not have spotted oncoming trouble. Thus usually, unless managers really were bad, production actors should not simply assume that they were the cause of the problems (and for that same reason, should not be subjected disproportionately to the fallout penalties of failures). The problems more likely rest in a required higher level dynamic: assuring the competency for exploiting tactics.
The Strategy and Execution Connection
Awareness and skills are the presumed glue that people too often expect will link execution to strategy. Because of that expectation, it is not surprising that reorganizations occur with the objective of boosting both, by "improving the management structure" and "improving resources". In fact, a willingness to restructure is important for connecting strategy and execution. On the other hand, a tendency to restructure may actually be a symptom of operational uncertainty masquerading as organizational refinement. Oversimplifying the point a bit, we often see organizations changing the players, an action which can be about fortifying structure during certainty as well as about hunting for structure during uncertainty. This reflects the mindset of "putting the right people in place" to respond and act on conditions. In turn, this effectively reorganizes the static supervision (presumptions) of work.
On the other hand, procedures and expertise, taken together, are the assumed glue. In most competitive companies, the main discussion now taking place about these assumptions is the discussion about agility. In theory, being agile routes the immediate fulfillment of requirements through whatever organizational formations best align the practice for the prevailing circumstances. Oversimplifying again, we see altering formations so that, specifically, we can change the play. In that sense, reorganization here reflects re-engineering more than restructuring: it rearranges the dynamic practices (assumptions) of production.
Yet, the assumptions are no more causal than are the presumptions. What they do have in common, and what is different from cause-and-effect, is that they propose or prescribe conditions in which execution is expected to occur.
Execution always relies on the same thing: namely, prosecuting tasks with sufficient adherence to specifications. Operationalizing execution requires controlling the interaction of resources, tasks and feedback to increase the predictability of outputs. Most operations are tuned for conduct within a bandwidth of tolerances that, in effect, represent a steady state. Because of that tuning, it is important to note that a restructuring (which alters the conditions around the tolerances) can easily make an operation impossible or obsolete; meanwhile, a defective or vulnerable operation is naturally at high risk of being the source of a failure of execution.
Given those issues, what we don't want to see is strategy being dismissed because of operational flaws stemming from invalid presumptions. The correct challenge there is about determining why the work is not being done correctly.
Meanwhile, the reason for validating assumptions between strategy and execution is mainly to determine if the right organization is doing the work. A desirable finding here still does not amount to a causal relationship, although valid assumptions help to fulfill the prescription that strategy initially provides.
The Cult of Result
Not having straightforward cause-and-effect relationships complicates the search for root causes of "failed strategies", until we grasp that compatibilities between strategy and execution are as significant as any cause. By analogy, a clinical perspective shows over time that some doctors give great advice and others don't, and some patients are highly compliant with advice while others simply refuse to follow doctors' orders and instead do something else. What matters above all is that the advice and the follow-up are not disconnected by an inability to sustain alignment. Under misalignment, observations can easily do more harm than good.
What if the strategy is a bad strategy? Even great execution of a bad strategy means that execution outputs might easily be irrelevant to the actual requirements for succeeding in the circumstances that are concurrent with results. In this case, the ideal fix would be to use a better strategy, to solve the right problems instead of solving the wrong ones.
What about when bad execution happens to good or even great strategy? The fundamental problem of strategy is that it must be dynamic and adaptable, because the logical premises of the strategy are usually based on influences that keep on changing. The range of tolerance underlying the strategic premises provides the context in which execution should be relevant, and poor execution by work providers mainly wastes opportunities to influence or exploit the conditions of the strategy towards actual net advantage. This makes it quite difficult to know how good the strategy actually was. But even more to the point, recovering from lost opportunity (or even worse, damage) is generally not what the organization is designed to do, so the related workload of recoveries is actually destabilizing. In this case, the fix would be to use "better" providers (including possible partners, external sources, etc. if necessary) -- and this occurs only if the terms of selection can identify better compatibility.
A decision to change the strategy and the execution simultaneously is not necessarily a last resort, nor necessarily a worst case. In fact it can even be a best case, depending on who the stakeholders are. But by definition it is radical (root-level), and it carries the full burden of needing to quickly provide organizational coherency. This radical decision should mean that the current awareness of circumstances informing strategy does not support an expectation that the incumbent (or legacy) organization can produce relevant and adequate results. For stakeholders (who include both investors and producers) this is a completely different justification than the scenario where the current results don't "prove" the prevailing strategy.
Either way, authoritative parties respond forcefully to what they perceive as poor performance. Authorities who will allow investments, arrangements and deployments actually need those who are held accountable to be able to distinguish management that creates enablement of strategy from management that creates enablement of execution -- but also then to relate them successfully. The information separating assumptions from presumptions, and separating prescriptions from validations, should likewise be maintained.
The problem of justification is often made worse by reorganization, which must struggle to present stronger logic than whatever it replaces, yet without the "proof" in hand. Justification demands that the logic about the future makes more sense than the history of the prior results. Consequently, an additional problem included here is when a poorly determined history undermines the necessary comparison, yet historical results are left in place as triggers of future effort; in this situation, if the reorganization will be compelling, it has to proceed as if legacy problems (causes) will somehow no longer exist.
Reorganizations are definitely attempted as a way to "design out" historically identified flaws. But the complexity of doing that "successfully" is at the level of ecology and systems, not at the level of construction and parts.
The logic of the typical approach in reorganization involves compartmentalizing responsibility ( role-based execution ) and departmentalizing authority (role-limited decisions) in new configurations. Why is this difference important? Because role-limited decisions may or may not be based on broad-enough inputs to correctly evaluate execution in context. Departmentalization inherently risks frustrating exactly the type of perspective necessary to know whether compatibilities, thus feasibility, will currently exist.
The issue at hand is that of opposing views: one view says "here is what actually happened, and here is what that means, pros and cons." The other view says "here is what was desired regardless of actuals, and here is what that means, pros and cons." The normal mechanism for closing gaps between the two views is nothing less than discipline; but while the operational discipline is usually process management, the strategic discipline is change management, and the close that is performed is always dictated by authority, not by responsibility.
The bottom line is that Authority is normally serving the interests of stakeholders who do not care why results occur but instead simply that preferred results occur. But if responsible parties are incompatible with the decisions of change management, then it is unclear that improvement will be made, and of equal risk, execution may literally run "away" from strategy.
Insight versus hindsight -- At this point, largely due to technology, most large organizations are trying to learn how to manage information "transparency" (which challenges conventional authority) and how to develop collaboration (which challenges conventional responsibility) -- both lessons under the pressures of accountability and intent to be innovative. Innovation is expected to drive strategy, and accountability is expected to drive results. But transparency and collaboration each bring risk of extraordinary confusion, as they erode conventional compartmentalization and departmentalization.
Therefore, an extremely pressing concern is to figure out how transparency and collaboration reformulate and integrate things: how they expose opportunity that should take the highest priority in the organization's operations -- and in turn how they relate tactics that can establish the prescribed probabilities of strategy to competency that controls the potentials of execution.
The Who Cares Test -- While addressing that concern, executives of the organization must also consider which stakeholders it wants to address and when. The community and network of stakeholders may easily be the most important thing to redefine before strategy and execution can become not just compatible but, in effect, symbiotically productive for those who own the enterprise. While all competitors want to be "customer"-driven, defining and choosing customers is the first rational step to take in designing the alignment of strategy and execution.
Finally, strategy is inherently about "where you're going to be"; thus, it is never divorced from forecasting. The relevance of a strategy to the prevailing conditions is hardly just a parenthetical bit of knowledge in the management perspective; and a strategy that lags forecasting is a strategy at risk. As execution under operations both consumes and generates observations, early warnings (indicators) from execution are critical to validating the priorities that strategy has imposed on operations. In the community of stakeholders, those who are the "early warning system" are key performers in sustaining the capability of the organization to align imminent results to existing opportunities representing the producer's advantage and gain.
In other words, the feedback loop from execution to strategy is mandatory; and as we are seeing with rising frequency in infamous corporate strategy flameouts, few other factors in the business scenario are riskier to ignore. But the key characteristic of the feedback loop is that it is proactive and always on, not reactive and periodically engaged. One of the most interesting effects of this should be that re-engineering options should surface in advance of any need to reorganize -- and if eventually necessary, subsequent reorganizing should occur under much better clarity and consensus.
(Copyright 2012 Malcolm Ryder / archestra)
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 10:16 PM
May 20, 2013
Big Learning: The Return of Critical Thinking
The biggest challenge in teaching is to convey, as information, the relationship of conditions to events. But the biggest challenge in learning is to recognize the meaning of received information.
Gaps exist between teaching and learning, which are bridged by critical thinking. The recognition that occurs from critical thinking actually formulates knowledge through the effort of the learner.
The volatility, diversity and vastness of our information environments demands critical thinking as a basis of learning.
The extended article and text for this framework and its background will be made available from this location during May 2013.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 11:42 AM
May 9, 2013
Managing Portfolios of Services, Pt. 1
(All text and images copyright 2010 Malcolm Ryder / archestra)
Businesses operate, or else they stop and become mere property.
In every scenario, the story of progress or inertia will include the matter of what is being used to "operate successfully"... Naturally, this also means that businesses have a usability perspective that dominates the effort to select and evaluate available I.T. And due to the economics involved, the question always arises about what uses are cost effective and what uses are not.
The most straightforward way to "define" these uses is by describing the consumption of Services. Why is this the case? A "service" is logically easy to define: it is an already running operation that makes its outputs available to a requestor on demand. This logical description has enormous range of inclusion, since we know that an "operation" can be identified as the executing functionality of any of the following: a device, a procedure, or an organization; of any size and shape. As a result, there is no level of logical segmentation of the operating business that cannot being described as either requesters or producers of a service.
Acknowledging that scope of definition, any quick inventory of "operations" can also quickly provide a baseline for identifying where services actually already exist, are already emerging, or could exist if desired. The relative importance of each identified finding must map to the kind of capabilities that the business itself needs to exhibit for its stakeholders. Generally this view of required capacity is the background for beginning to determine which services should be requested, by which consumers, and from which providers. as we know, any portfolio has the same purpose: to contain itemized holdings that are categorized by the type of requirements that determine how they are valuable.
The relationships just described explain why the business value of the services is not inherent in the services themselves. Instead, the level of value of a service is in the net balance of the burden of its availability versus the benefit of its impact. Importantly, "availability" does not just happen; it must be created. And, since a desirable service can be identified as a proposal for something that does not yet even exist, the eventual success of its use is (by definition) a responsibility that spans the concerns of both the provider and the consumer. For that reason, a comprehensive assessment of the value of the service will offer accounting for every phase of its lifecycle -- any phase that requires attention in order to be completed or sustained as a step towards eventual on-demand usage of the service.
This view of service valuation allows the provider and consumer to respectively distinguish their complementary investments in the presumed use of the service. Each party defines and tracks aspects of the service's availability to the business, according to their own perspectives. Typically, in I.T., numerous different tracking systems account for different aspects of the service lifecycle, including the inputs and outputs that occur at any lifecycle stage. In formulating the overall reference view of the service value, what is needed is a practical way to rationalize and consolidate the information processed by these different tracking mechanisms. The start of that composition is in a model reflecting what things about placing the service "in production" are the major levers throttling the level and continuity of its potential value. These factors are exposed by a framework articulating the dynamics of the service availability.
In the archestra framework for identifying these levers, the emphasis is on how available support of intended operations is distributed across already recognizable management processes in I.T. This framework includes the business positioning of enterprise service management (ESM) and IT architecture, which are both profoundly structural aspects of the business model itself and that represent macro-level links in the supply chain of business services. Enterprise service management is practiced by all providers including for example the internal IT Organization (ITO), B2B exchanges, and external service providers (xSPs). IT architecture specifies the mapping of operational requirements to supporting engineering requirements, including platforms and other managed infrastructure. For now, we reserve those two areas (ESM and Architecture) for future close inspection; but what is interesting about them is that they, like the business overall, are consumers of services, needing the outlook composed of all of the other areas. Like the business, both ESM and IT architecture will wind up with a portfolio view of the services they need.
The framework generates identification of the key areas by cross-referencing three topics of support (business, production and operations) against three topics of operations (business, service and resource). The yield is, in effect, the high-level blueprint for the management system needed to place identified services in a portfolio where they will be managed (acquired, sustained, retained or removed) based on their known value:
1. for Resource Operations:
- business support is in Entitlements: IT asset management (ITAM)
- production support is in Compliance: Configuration management (CMDB)
- operations support is in Retained Labor: Workforce management
2. for Service Operations:
- business support is in Provisioning: Service Catalogs
- production support is in Develop/Release: Project and Portfolio management (PPM)
- operations support is in Maintenance: Service Desks
3. for Business Operations:
- business support is in the service Portfolio
- production support is in services management (ESM)
- operations support is in IT architecture
In the co-existence of these management efforts, a network of relationships forms three major communities or centers of business interest. These interests are, effectively, common sense questions about how the business can validate that needed services will be available. The questions are "Who is doing work, What is being produced, and Where is it obtained?" The answers are found in these managed processes:
Assignments - this is attended by CMDB, WorkfForce, Service Desk, and PPM
Service Definitions - this is attended by ITAM, CMDB, PPM and Catalog
Provisioning - this is attended by Catalog, PPM, ESM and Portfolio
(A fourth center of interest, Infrastructure, is attended by PPM, Service Desk, IT Architecture and ESM; however this area will be discussed in part 2 of this article.)
The interactions in and around these centers of interest are the dynamics underlying the value of the services that wind up in the portfolio. In part two of this discussion, the information model based on these interactions will be presented. The narrative of the interactions is as follows:
- Service definitions flow into assignments that produce and support services selectively offered to the business. These offerings, exposed in the service producer's catalog, are selected by the business for inclusion in the business service portfolio.
That simple description of the basics of availability calls out the many points where management can constrain, enable or accelerate the creation of value. The information model of that narrative, derived from the framework, shows the tracked details of the narrative, which provides the high-level blueprint for the integrated solution needed to do service portfolio management. What we see in the information model is the business intelligence that must be managed in order to validate the apparent value of a service and, thereby, decide how it currently compares against the endorsed expectations and against known alternatives. The management processes in the service lifecycle will generate the data of the business intelligence; and the intelligence will show the relationship between the targets, success factors and performance indicators of the service -- thus supporting the analysis necessary to manage the service portfolio.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 9:15 PM
Managing Portfolios of Services, Pt. 2
(All text and images Copyright 2010 Malcolm Ryder / archestra)
The archestra framework and model for service portfolio management identifies three operational dimensions that are watched and assessed by the business. Each dimension includes a variety of success factors, but it is possible to compare the three consistently at a very high level of common sense.
The Resource dimension identifies how the producer of a service secures the means of production, with economy, continuity and propriety.
The Service dimension identifies the staging and readiness of a specified service as a deliverable.
And the Business dimension identifies the architecture of the service transmission from source facility to business capacity, in effect organizing a demand chain.
In the demand chain of service availability for business operations, architectures design and validate forms of I.T. that are managed by providers for alignment with business requirements. As a result, both infrastructures and platforms for service availability are predicates of the service value and constraints on the service portfolio.
The business challenge in managing the portfolio is usually a story of how cost, timing and impact are aligned. And the main purpose of the typologies of infrastructures or of platforms is to summarize the distinct ways that alignment is prefabricated and/or achievable with the least amount of business complexity. For example, from the business perspective, infrastructure typologies expanded aggressively to include physical types and virtual types; and platform types expanded aggressively from machine-level to include web-based. Virtualization and the web provided new arrangements of cost, timing and impact in service availability to the business -- particularly decreasing the complexity of adequately formulating requests for service.
As noted earlier in this discussion, Services needed in the portfolio can be requested before they have been made available, and as part of business management, producers may be asked or told what would be preferable for them to include in their catalogs.
Sustaining a catalog of services is a line of business that production organizations can choose or be chosen for. The integration of service operations is aimed at establishing and protecting the validity of offerings in the producer's catalog. We can understand the importance of the information model primarily in terms of monitoring the ability to do the validation and then communicate its status.
Expressed as actions and events, this ability is followed across the supply and distribution of assets; the administration and application of production labor and standards; and the scheduling of the availability of operations as services. However, seeing the ability at that level of detail exposes the many different points at which variation can occur. Producers are challenged to find a sustainable balance between avoiding unnecessary risk and maintaining adaptability to changing requirements from service users.
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at 1:51 AM
April 16, 2013
The ecosystem that we often refer to as The Market is more than just the market. Businesses go to market, because a business and a market are two different things. Together, their interactions -- commerce -- signify the potentials of the ecosystem that they both form and inhabit. The "system" of commerce is seen enabling and channeling transactions, by arranging particular key characteristics of the activity conducted by the various inhabitants.
The currently pronounced emphasis on disruptive developments within this environment generally highlights an emerged imbalance caused either by an unexpected characteristic of a role player, or an unusual characteristic of the opportunity to interact. When the system equilibrium enjoyed or dominated by previous commercial winners is disturbed, we initially look at whether the difference is temporary or merely early stage -- which simply reflects our interest in whether the change, with or without our intervention, is going to go away or not.
The larger question at hand, and the more complex one, is whether the cause of the change is likely to stay in effect. To address this question, the structure of the system must be exposed, allowing a view of potential root causes of change. This discovery may reveal causes beyond our control, which in turn indicates that our own adaptation or modification is the next step necessary to re-establish an equilibrium that we need to exploit our own positions within the system.
The primary roles performed from those positions are Supplier and Producer (combining as a business), and Seller and Buyer (combining as a market). In this way we can understand that when we think of disruption we are thinking mainly about what businesses will be in or out of operation, and what markets will persist or appear. Each role has essential distinguishing features separating roles from different roles, as well as separating players in the same role from each other.
As the roles interact, they establish certain types of "presence" in the environment. The main types -- operation and production partners, sources, and manufacturers -- are what the different roles typically "see" from their different perspectives. Each type of presence has value within the ecosystem due to certain variables that they will dominantly affect in the creation and delivery of things by the system.Variations in the presence changes the behavior of the inhabitants of the ecosystem. By understanding the perspective of each role across these presences, it is possible to identify the nature of the changes in equilibrium. In the framework shown here, each row or column is a perspective, and we see four basic perspectives that correspond to the importance and nature of the interactions amongst the presence of the roles.
- Suppliers have environmental concerns that are most likely to surface as potentially disruptive (whether favorably or not)
- Producers have relational concerns
- Sellers have industrial concerns
- Buyers have cultural concerns.
These four types or dimensions of concerns are the key forces driving the dynamics of the overall commercial system. Within these dimensions, new events alter their force or disposition, triggering reactions form and with the others. A meteorological mindset is useful here, in considering that the four dimensions are interactiong forces creating the macroconditions of the environment but also impacting microconditions (localities) within it.
This raises the idea that micro-events can alter the larger-scale behavior or impact of their dimensions (forces) on other aspects of the environment.For example, the values apparently held by Sources, or the attributes of reliability typical of a manufacturer, can alter the existing preference for or against those parties, held by the Buyers. If Buyers decide to distance themselves from a manufacturer or source, a disruption of the prior patterns of activity can occur from that cultural change in the equilibrium. Likewise, elaborating the key attributes of a partner's agility or scale will expose the potential origins of industrial disruption about which Sellers may be most sensitive.
Disruptions, in effect, tend to occur when there is a development in the system that alters the status quo of these key attributes of the four dynamic drivers (relational, industrial, environmental, cultural). This gives the exact clue neccesary to construct filters or categories that detect and position the types and importance of things that emerge in the landscape, such as new materials, new types of communication, new processes, and so forth.
For Business and Markets, these areas of potential disruption do not change, but the details and impacts of events within them change continually. At any given time a single dramatic change can ripple quickly throughout the system; but it is not less likely that an accumulation of many separate changes may find a way to combine or coordinate across the dynamics, with the result being a climactic-level difference or, as we may experience it more commonly, a whole new generation of a commercial environment.
As could be seen here, a population change (demographics), online shopping (disintermediation of stores), robots and solar power are all nearly predictable as disrupters, even if the emergence of those causal items was not precisely predicted. We know they can be disruptive because they can affect the key attributes of the four main dynamic drivers of the overall system.
As a demonstration of the possible full effect, we can already observe a day in the life of a person who functions daily without second thought, in full reliance on an accumulation of formerly disruptive developments now in current equilibrium. Our fictional character exercises life at a cultural level enjoying Google Adsense, social networks and Wikipedia. In the relational dimension, each day features use of iTunes, Amazon and VoIP... The environmental arrangements deliver our person's Prius, solar powered house, and skin cream made from nonasilver. And much of the tools or equipment he enjoys has been industrially enhanced through robotics before it reaches him, and flash drives afterwards. This full accumulation makes for a daily experience that simply did not exist only 15 years ago -- a previous generation.
Appreciating the potential power of identifying the systemic causes of change leads to strategic thinking about how to make the most of them. Within the overall commercial framework, it is not difficult to propose objectives such as the following:
- Industrial: increase production automation at lower cost
- Environmental: make things using "better" resources
- Relational: disintermediate and expand buying options
- Cultural: enable people to find and/or change deliverables based on their preferences
A fuller cataloging of technologies, processes, and conditions based on the archestra framework discussed above has already been done and has the advantage of using the framework to continually refresh the cataloging and move into a predictive mode as well. As with all analytical models, modifications should be expected to occur with ongoing applications but the fundamentals presented here have already been validated across a wide swath of business publishing during the last 15 years.
To discuss the additional extended material and the exclusive copyrighted material above, find Malcolm Ryder by email: email@example.com