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 International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS2007)

Moving Beyond IT Based Enterprise Architecture: Adaptive Enterprise Design for Actionable and Agile Decision-Making

Robert Wright

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     Last modified: June 28, 2007

Why do business executives’ eyes roll back when they hear the word “architecture?” How well is Enterprise Architecture (EA) accepted by the business stakeholders? What value does EA have for their business stakeholders?

Adaptive Enterprise Design (AED) is our methodology to explore an innovative use of enterprise architecture modeling practices to conceptualize the unique elements of a complex organization. The AED approach allows for freedom to innovate, learn, self-organize and adapt as we collect content that best describes the organization in the context of its unique environment. A successful AED combines the elements of operational continuity, and strategic and functional alignment. An adaptive enterprise design is capability focused, performance driven, cost optimized and metrically justified.

AED is unique because it avoids the cookie cutter approach inherent in the IT specific EA solutions. Adaptive means not being confined to a specific framework, but growing the knowledge embedded in various frameworks and modeling only what is relevant.

The AED approach bridges the gap between strategy and action, by providing a fluid description of the organization’s complex processes, organizing the parts into a whole. The result is a process to analyze and synthesize dynamically as change occurs and to visually communicate the emergent patterns. The business stakeholder achieves awareness enabling agile decision-making, synergy and anticipation, rather than surprise of unpredicted or unrecognized elements. AED follows the principle of constantly learning through discovery about the elements that answer the problem.

Key to actionable AED is recognition that the fundamental drivers are the capability needs of the mission/line-of-business elements of the organization.
An enterprise design that is not founded on a clear understanding of those capabilities will be extremely difficult to align with an agency’s/businesses mission. Delivering business value also requires aligning the time domain of the AED with the business lifecycles, including annual budget submissions, and more importantly, longer planning horizons of three or more years. Focusing on business and mission capabilities across the business lifecycle is key to creating a highly actionable, adaptive enterprise design for agile, time-sensitive decision-making. Good decisions are made with good information and knowledge

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