Thursday, February 19, 2009

Strategy and architecture must enable action to be useful (e.g. transformation, optimisation)

The purpose of strategy or architecture work is to either support a change or to manage risks. In either case for S&A work to be useful - it must enable decisions to be made that result in correct actions. The risks are often focused on regulatory and compliance issues (e.g. stay out of gaol, stay in business) and the changes often focused on outcomes (e.g. value, performance, profit etc.).

Too often S&A work is undertaken as a philosophical exercise - where the love of knowledge for its own sake seems to be objective. Sometimes it is used by sophists to support a pet project, technologies etc. In neither of these cases is it useful.

For many years I worked on projects. These projects all aimed to achieve transformations or optimisations (reduce cost, increase revenue, reduce risk, improve outcomes etc.). I think of "transformation and optimisation" (T&O) as long latinate words for shorter simpler English words "change and make better". There is much research that shows that large complex projects are seldom well delivered. There is also good research that indicates that the fundamental issues are the failure to deal effectively with complexity (e.g. complexity in the organisations, complexity in the task sets, complexity in the technologies or materials).

My focus on Strategy was based on a belief that successful T&O projects required better approaches to knowledge management and business decision making. These approaches need to deal with the complexity of the issues, the multiplicity of stakeholders, the nature of the enterprises involved.

This is one of the reasons I have called my venture ESTO i.e. to acronymically preface the goal (TO) with the key enabler (ES). There are other reasons for ESTO - that I won't go into here.

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