Back in January 2020, after watching the news from China, I told my team we had an agility event. Buckle-up, it will be a wild ride. Later, from the local pub, I texted a fellow EA/TOGAF theoretician about TOGAF’s Phase H (Risk Management, Value Realization & Architecture Change). Yes, I do that. Next, we got to work. I didn’t grasp how wild the ride.
Most people think they can plan agility. Sorry you cannot plan for the unpredictable. Agility is reactive. Agility is always a reaction to an external opportunity or threat observed in your world. It is a natural 5 step model:
- See a threat or opportunity
- Gather essential information
- Make a resolute decision
- Complete the work within the time
- Stretching exercises – remove the barriers to change
The 5th step is the only one you can plan—consider at your ability to react to opportunities and threats. Systematically improve. Keep stretching.
It doesn’t matter whether you are flying through the Rockies, playing soccer, or seeing a potential pandemic. The 5 steps are the same. What changes is how long you have between spotting the threat and living through it.
Trust me, we always have enough time if we keep our eyes open. Quarterbacks, fighter pilots, rugby players might not have enough time. As an enterprise architect, we have longer to react. The trick is to keep our eyes open, and our minds alert.
TOGAF’s Phase H is where value and risk information flow, and our reaction starts. Too many of us don’t exercise our responsibility as enterprise architects to perform value and risk assessments. Instead, we sit back and expect someone to ask. Half of my career has been establishing architecture teams, the other half using them. As an architect, I never wait because I know what high-value architecture means to a buyer. (Trap#2 – Not Making Progress).
Continuous improvement requires taking a tough look at ourselves and asking fierce questions. The question on the table right now is: where were we when the risks piled up?
A high-functioning architecture team assures that they will prepare for the future, while everyone else is running the store. Or, in TOGAF terms, consider whether the “enterprise architecture capability meets current requirements?” Again the question to ask is, “where were we when the risks piled up?”
I know my team meets the current requirements. We architected a COVID-19 response and led the readiness (Phase G). I’m proud of this performance in terms of impact and for the practice. We didn’t cut corners. I have the SABSA business attributes profile, & risk domain, Navigate gap, work package, and strategy alignment models. Our Kanban-based Predictable EA approach kept the other architecture development work moving.
The result was taking market share during this sad event. Instead of layoffs, we hired.
Real enterprise architecture helps with the hard problem – digital transformation, IT portfolio rationalization, agile enterprise, and COVID-19 response.
TOGAF’s Phase H is potentially my favorite ADM Phase. While it doesn’t get the recognition of creating architecture Phase H is central to enterprise agility and value.
One of the most common requests I get is to tell the stories of high-functioning architecture. What we did, how we did it. Next week we are holding a Webinar you might want to join us and explore the story. True Life EA Webinar: Agile COVID-19 Response.
Now we’re working on readiness to return-to-the-office. Health and safety firmly center the risk domain model. I’m grappling with uncertainty. We’ll probably need more flexibility.
In these times I hope that you and your families are well and safe.