Category Archives: Management

Digging a hole with Enterprise Architecture #entarchs

Some Sunday morning rambling & a couple of old Dilbert cartoons which may be pertinent & should at least be a amusing…

dilbert2

So, you know the scenario. You’re in there with the senior management team & they want an answer to the question: why should we invest in this thing called Enterprise Architecture?

& the answer is: I dunno; or, you tell me; or maybe, you shouldn’t.

Because they are, of course, asking the wrong question. They should be saying: how do we improve our customer experience? Or, how do we reduce the cost of procurement? Or, how do we decide what we could target as shared services? Or…a thousand other critical business questions. To any or all of which EA may be part of the answer.

But you’ve been invited along to a meeting to explain why they need EA. So you’ve come to the wrong meeting.

& because they’re asking the wrong question, you’ll probably have to give them the wrong answer.

& you can’t directly tell them they’re asking the wrong question. Well, go for it if you feel like it. After all, they’re only senior management…

There’s a lot of discussion in EA circles about how exactly do we sell EA to senior management? & the answer is, of course, you don’t.

You don’t sell someone a spade if they don’t know they need to dig a hole. At least, I hope not – don’t want to be in the snake oil business. So senior management need to know what problems EA will solve, or what new opportunities EA can open up – they need to see what bigger better hole they can dig (themselves into?) with this shiny new implement (maybe not the best analogy, then, but you have to start somewhere).

So EA isn’t always the answer – it depends on the question, & you have to make sure the right questions are being asked then you can make sure you have the right answers.

So in that meeting, you need to get them to ask the right questions – ‘I dunno’ may be a pretty good first answer – followed by, you tell me what you need to do, & then I’ll tell you if EA can help you do it. Or, maybe not…because…

If you’re an Enterprise Architect, you might think EA is always the answer, or at least part of it – & I agree, you’re probably right. But the best way to test a hypothesis is to assume that you’re wrong – & maybe the customer doesn’t really need to dig a hole, at least, not until they’ve chopped down that tree. Great thing about EA is, it’s more like a Swiss Army knife than an axe or a spade – but if the customer only wants to dig that hole or chop down that tree, some kind of multitool might seem like overkill. So, find that hole that needs digging, use EA to help it get dug, & then…

dilbert1

Advertisements

UCISA Enterprise Architecture Community of Practice Start Up Meeting

2nd May 2013: a group convened at Liverpool John Moores University to discuss the setting up of a UCISA Enterprise Architecture Community of Practice (EACP).

Following work by Luke Taylor & the UCISA-CISG, & commissioned by the UCISA Executive, the objective of the meeting: to baseline where we were up to with EA, and work out how this Community of Practice thing was going to operate, as it’s a bit of a new departure for UCISA & those previously involved in the JISC EA Practice Group. Representatives from 8 institutions, JISC InfoNet & the Open Group, and facilitated by Richard Chapman, of Richard Chapman Consulting.

This is a picture of where we started:

EA0213

I’m not going to do a blow by blow account of the day, as that will come out in due course, but just wanted to highlight a few things that were key or of interest for me.

  • Baselining EA. Various people were not surprisingly at various stages, although there were common themes: how to keep up momentum, how to convince the business, how to get resources. Participants were asked to come up with ‘twEAts’ (140 characters about EA on a postit – thank you David Rose of the Open Group for that one, bit close to our great Prime Minister’s comments about what too many tweets make…). These got quite zen-like in parts – particularly this offering from Patrick O’Reilly/Bolton: ‘the curate has a fresh egg, but no eggcup, spoon and is waiting for a chance to eat’. I thought we might have invented Zen EA – but then discovered this: ‘Zen and The Art of Enterprise Architecture (Open Group Conference Newport Beach 2013)’ – although I may be being a little unfair, having not viewed it in detail, at 83 slides, some of dazzling complexity, I’m not sure this is in the spirit of Zen, or even EA…
  • Building a Community of Practice. Lots of interesting discussion on this, which will be rolled up in a wiki & considered further – but for me, the main issue was around leadership. The key objective of the EACP is to become self-sustaining – to not need a leader, or a Chair, or single person or even small group who keep it all going – leading to the usual leaders/followers scenario. Seems like a kind of variation on situational leadership – the idea that there is no one best leadership style, but that leadership is adaptive to the situation – which in some situations may mean following. So perhaps we have situational leadership & followership as well. For the EACP I would envisage a scenario where individuals would either lead or follow depending on the situation – which I think is what I’ve just said. Or to sum up, ‘We are all leaders now’.

Which is about all for the moment – the EACP is a work in progress & progress on this first day was excellent, we have actions, ideas for how to work, deadlines & all manner of good stuff, including the all important hash tag (#UCISA_EA) – so thanks to all the participants & also Richard Chapman for his great facilitation, kept us almost both on time & under control!

Also worth a look at Dave Berry from Edinburgh’s post on the same event.

& here’s a picture of where we finished:

EA2013b

UCISA 2013 Day 2 Session 2 #ucisa13

Maximise the capability of your greatest resource – Gareth Cahill/BCS. What, a whole session about paperclips? What if I invest in my staff & they leave? or – what if I don't invest in my staff & they stay? Who's done the BCS thing? – St Andrews, Loughborough, University of the Arts. Merging SFIA with HERA/HAY. Good structure & stuff, bit dry, just needs doing – hell, why woudn't you want to understand your skills base & develop your staff?

Transforming leadership of your IT Service – from IT Director to CIO – Albert Ellis/Harvey Nash. The transformational CIO. Change ahead – well, it generally is. What is priority for CEO – save or make money. All CIOs – 62% make, 38% save; HE 47%/53%. CIOs feel 21% less important than did 5 years ago – is this necessarily a bad thing? Just realised I've seen this before…what attributes does CIO need? Vision high, blue sky thinker low; listening high/emotional intelligence low – contradiction? New normal? What? Skills to succeed: need to understand new business models, how technology can open up new channels with the customer; key point: make it easier for senior management to do their jobs; breakthrough thinking; simplify & articulate complex processes/technology & get things done in practice.

UCISA 2013 Day 2 #ucisa13

Students as producers of IT departments – Dan Derricott, Lincoln. Student engagement – we need to engage with students. Does your IT service engage with the student voice? Not enough! – but have to recognise that there are student voices, rather than 'a' student voice – engage with the diversity, Students Union can be helpful but probably not comprehensive. 1968 – students became more than students. Could not have imagined what they were going to get – but can institutions engineer this experience? Need to create an environment in which it can happen – but you can take a horse to water…Systematic engagement of students.

A CFO & an IT Director in conversation – Bob Rabone & Chris Sexton, Sheffield. Think about money. What is the point of an accountant? IT joke: people who solve a problem you didn't know you had, in ways that you don't understand: serious point, get better at explaining what you're doing. 3 reasons for doing something: cheaper, better, or income generating. Make sure you can explain in those terms. What do IT Directors want? Budgets that go on for more than a year. A procurement officer who understands IT procurement. Savings that come back to the department. Can get capital but can't get staff – get stuff but can't do anything with it…Thinking, Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman

(A thought, apropos of something: the psychopathology of organisations – identify a problem; create a job to solve the problem; perpetuate the problem; go back to the top of the slide (we are in Liverpool, after all…))

 

UCISA 2013 – Liverpool 13th-15th March Day One #ucisa13

Usual rambling commentary, impressions, interventions…

VC's Question Time. Chair: Peter Gallimore, former producer of BBC Today programme, with Nigel Weatherill, Liverpool John Moores, Howard Newby, Liverpool, & John Coyne, Derby.

  1. 24/7 support? John Coyne: critical platform for core mission. Hard to resolve: don't want shift systems. Need colleagues to appreciate the service delivery. Nigel Weatherill: need to ensure that we have resilient, quality systems to minimise downtime. Howard Newby: not what we want, but what students want. Have to operate in different timezones. Question from floor: how do you go about ensuring 24/7, instead of just hoping for it? Weatherill: comparison with 24/7 health support – need to look at new methods of service delivery, interacting with professionals from other sectors. Q from floor: outsourcing? Google/Microsoft. What wouldn't you outsource? Newby: commodity support vs. personalised service. Weatherill: educationally led institution but have to run on business principles. IT can be a differentiator – might outsource the basics, retain that which is specific to values and vision of LJMU for students. Coyne: need to put together set of best-in-class components that meet individual needs (EA perhaps?) – then make decisions about what you contract for & what you keep inside.
  2. Q from Tim Marshall (different subject): need to preserve but also open up information resources – open access. Newby: wholly in favour. Why should work which is publicly funded not be publicly accessible? Weatherill: also in favour; what would keep him awake at night? FOI & research data. When do the outcomes go into the public domain? Research needs opportunity to mature before enters open access. Coyne: direction is open access. Also concerned about FOI industry.
  3. Should IT Director be at the top table? Weatherill: at LJMU that person does sit at top table, but has wider brief – important thing is that they understand the business. Newby: senior team meetings always very large; how to configure academic & service structures. Basically, no. Coyne: should Director have early & influential strategic voice? Yes. Not necessarily helpful to talk about top table; can get Derby senior team round a stool. Consensus: need influence/access, not necessarily seat. Coyne: someone who can understand the purpose of the institution, map it to the capabilities of IT, and articulate it. Transparency of senior team activities? Weatherill: about communication. LJMU cascade approach – senior team to leadership team to staff. Needs middle-up-down management – recognition of key role of middle manager – Japanese approach. Newby: growth of less collegial, more business/competitive approach. All engaging in activities we wouldn't want competitors to have early sight of.
  4. Is HE a business? Coyne: stakeholders (students) are far more important than shareholders would be. Need to be business-like in efficient & effective delivery. Weatherill: educational institution that needs to be run on business principles. Driven by strategic framework. Newby: have to be business-like in terms of being efficient & effective – but also values-driven, belief in greater knowledge contributing to social progress. Need to be increasingly attentive to stakeholders – Ivory Tower is over.
  5. Q from Twitter: how do you get input from student body? & how important is NSS. Newby: embed NSS in more broad ranging/sensitive assessment. Days are gone when we knew what students ought to want. Weatherill: QAA Conference, Edinburgh – a lot about student engagement. Suggestion that student feedback needs to be systematised – but so much formal/informal that just happens. Coyne: unique programme representative system, annual Q&A, University held to account. Ignore the student voice at your peril – students good at holding up honesty mirror.
  6. Q from floor: an avalanche is coming? Newby: MOOCs – threat or opportunity? What is unique to University? Ability to award a degree – apart from that almost everything can be done by somebody else. Also – personalised service difficult to deliver in online experience. Also: what are students buying? Some, information & knowledge; some, a brand – are MOOCs strong enough. Can they address the social objectives of HE as opposed to just the economic ones. Future = blended learning, but be careful how you blend. Weatherill: what is the currency of a MOOC? HE currency: standards & accreditation. Coyne: a destructive technology or just the latest fashion that invites us to question ourselves? Newby: IT does mass bits, Socratic dialogue for rest (at least I think that's what he meant!)

 

#SCONUL12 Summer Conference 14th June 2012

Made a brief appearance on behalf of UCISA at the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) Summer Conference, held at the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool, for a panel session on sharing best practice in evaluation strategies – along with Kitty Inglis, University Librarian at Sussex, and Karel Thomas, Executive Director of the British Universities Finance Director’s Group (BUFDG). Plus a surprisingly large – standing room only – and vocal audience, and great chairing from Sara Marsh, SCONUL Vice Chair and Director of Learner Support Services at the University of Bradford.

I expected a rather dry session on what looked like a rather dry subject, but far from it! Each panel member gave their 5 minute view of the area, followed by a surprisingly lively discussion. Following bullet points are the usual vague, inaccurate and repositioned recollection of some of what was said:

  • Kicked off talking about ITIL for Service Management/Evaluation & Programme Management/Benefits Realisation for evaluation of development
  • Projects deliver the capability to do things differently; benefits management tries to make sure that we do do things differently
  • Particular challenge when the benefits have to be realised in changes in ways of working in areas outside of the management control of the project/programme – even more of a problem for JISC programmes where the benefits have to be realised in a different organisation
  • Information services need to be useful, usable and used (thank you JISC) – benefits are in the used part, needs more focus
  • UCISA/SCONUL collect a lot of statistics, but are they the right ones/much use?
  • When we evaluate, are we hard enough on ourselves?
  • Need to look at LEAN – being looked at more in the sector
  • Benchmarking – not enough effort goes into establishing where we’re starting from, which makes it hard to evaluate how far we’ve travelled
  • Strategy maps – important to make sure we retain the connection between institutional level objectives and project/programme outputs (benefits mapping could also be applicable here)
  • Need to get closer to our Finance colleagues – our Finance colleagues need to get out more – investment appraisal, cost benefit analysis and all that stuff needs to be shared venture between Finance, supplier departments and stakeholders
  • Do we make enough use of our suppliers, for their strategic input rather than just the functionality of their products?
  • & finally, pointer to what looks like a very useful report from the US Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) – Value of Academic Libraries Summit White Paper – which I shall read when I get the chance.

So – great session, poor summary from me, looked like a really good conference, and wish I could have stayed…

#AUA12 AUA Conference Day 3 Manchester

Ewart Wooldridge/Leadership Foundation: The Psychological Contract

Should read ‘What Matters Now’ – Gary Hamel.

Aggregate of reciprocal expectations between University & all stakeholders.

New psychological contract – a paradigm shift? Yes, first paradigm shift of the day. Ref Matthew Taylor/RSA & citizenship. Student as customer? Co-creator? Citizen? Comprehensive to differentiated; collaborative to competitive; sector to system; trusted to challenged; certainty to uncertainty.

So what are key leadership issues?

  • Top: handling uncertainty & ambiguity. Yes – building the capacity for change!
  • Challenging inefficiency & reluctance to innovate
  • Being entrepreneurial
  • Making change happen
  • Collaborate AND compete
  • Engagement, creatively
  • Citizenship

Disruptive innovation; unbundling/disaggregation of the value chain = shared services, outsourcing; OER. So, DARE is an example of unbundling, break up of vertical integration. Example: BBC/ITV – have mostly outsourced their core product = making programmes.

10 key things.

  1. Leading the whole student experience. LFHE website: Developing the Whole Student/Dr Kathleen Quinlan. Creating organisational conditions; modelling a meaningful life; leadership of learning
  2. Public & societal engagement. Placing universities at the heart of social & economic advancement (UUK: Futures for HE/Analysing Trends)
  3. Distinctiveness. Components: Narrative Place Values Community Clusters. NPVCC. Dropped vision & mission – 50% of someone or other couldn’t identify their own. Mnemonic – Needs Positive Vice Chancellor Commitment – Oxford Brookes.
  4. Learning from Academic Leadership. Academics don’t see academic leaders as leaders. Academic leadership = oxymoron. I repeat, after all it was leadership that got us into this mess. Must be careful not to fall into traditional approaches to leadership. Listen; nurture; create; stimulate; engage. Quote from academic: ‘I really dislike this concept of leadership’.
  5. Professional vs Academic Leadership. Needs breaking down. No such thing as non-academic – no one should be referred to as what they’re not.
  6. Alignment. ‘For me, it’s more about a job well done & less about the cheese’. Cheese = strategy at end of the maze.
  7. Learning from other sectors. John Lewis; professional services; third sector. Not just private sector; note 58% of FDs now from private sector.
  8. Entrepreneurial leadership. Kanter: Measure themselves not by the standards of the past but by the vision of the future.
  9. New leadership qualities of challenge & support. Meaning, business focused, confidence, balancing support with strong challenge, clear narrative at ‘point of sail’, collaboration, energy.
  10. Discovering the magic in leadership. ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on…’ Yeah, but depends on interpretation – the next bit goes ‘& our little life is rounded with a sleep’.

See new connections; transform the obvious; cross boundaries; use humour; trust & respect.

University answer to man from mars: ‘But we don’t have a leader to take you to’. Might be a good thing…my closing quote: ‘Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters’.