December 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Reading Enterprise Architecture -creating value by informed governance. The one take-away I’ve gotten so far from the book has been confirmation of Stafford Beer VSM’s concepts: the recognition that management and control within an enterprise need to be designed with the same discipline and rigor or more that are used for products and services.
Designing effective governance directly effects an enterprise’s ability. In an environment and economy that demands that enterprises be flexible, adaptive, efficient and effective, having the appropriate governance system is a critical enabling factor. Some of the spectacular business failures of the past decades have not been failures of product, production process or services. These failures have been lapses of effective governance. This goes beyond the financial and ethical scandals that have brought about SOX legislation. One only needs to look at the issues that the US Government is going through. Almost everyone is looking towards the government with frustration and wondering why it does not appear to be working or unable to get things done. A simple look indicates a failure of governance by the very body that has been delegated that responsibility. I bring these circumstances and events up as proof-points to my original premise; management and control have gotten complex enough in today’s environment that governance needs to be designed and built.
If I haven’t lost you reading this you’re asking now what? What do I do if I buy your premise? As an Enterprise Architect, the next step appears simple but is quiet hard: recognize that governance is a subsystem in the enterprise which is a system in the environment. Usually Enterprise Architects spend significant time articulating how the value creation process is exposed by a product or service system. Or Infrastructure Architects focus on creating the information system that enables or embodies this creation process. However, the sub-discipline and practice of governance creation is still emerging as a practice within Enterprise Architecture.
The diagrams below are but one visualization method on how governance can be displayed. While overly simplified, I find this method clear and concise to communicate in a less jargon filled discussion. The first diagram illustrates how the management system aka governance reacts with both the environment and operations. The management senses the environment and operations and sends control instructions to operations to adjust to environmental needs. In this context environment is the ecosystem that the business operates within.
In this second illustration the system is diagramed in more detail showing how the management system is partitioned is to sub-control activities and the mechanisms (triangles) used to coordinate activities. This does not take the place of business rules, charters, and other textual representations of governance, however, it does enable visualization on how the components interact as well as help identify gaps in governance.