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“Nirvana of Architecture” is when no architects are needed anymore

Just until a couple of years ago I thought that “Nirvana of Architecture” (the ultimate state of architecture) is when you have an architecture function in the organisation with architects doing great architectural stuff creating a very high business value. They put focus on just the things that are important, create perspectives for understanding and makes change more efficient.

But nowadays I choose to see it in a slightly different way.

Focusing on just the things that are important, creating a very high business value and make changes more efficient is of course the wanted state. But “Nirvana of Architecture” is when there are no need for architects anymore. When everyone in the organisation, that are involved in change of any kind, are doing the right things, in the right way and at the right time – having an architectural mindset and way of communicating, and understanding their business context in everything they do.

Architects act as a personal trainers that lead, guide and motivate people to achieve a vision and goals in an efficient and holistic way. The architects are not there for their own sake, but to support the people in the organisation which are involved in change. And when the people have the ability to achieve the vision and goals in an efficient and holistic way by themselves, there are no need for architects anymore.

Nirvana of Architecture!

But to be honest it is very hard to build an organisation that reach this ultimate state. Maybe it is not even possible. Think about it! The more complicated organisation you have, the harder it will get. Here are some examples of aspects that aggravate the situation:

  • Personal agendas
  • Politics
  • Lust for power
  • Solution/problem orientation
  • Functional organisational silos
  • People that don’t like changes
  • etc

The list above might look quite negative or provoking. Well in a way it is, but its also a reality, and this is something companies struggle with more or less. Organisations will always include people with diverse mindsets, and diverse thinking is healthy for a company. But in the end regarding change, it is very much about what decisions people make and their outcomes. A business growing in the wrong direction is not healthy and could even lead to a catastrophe. We need architects to prevent that!

So what is all the fuss about? If we can not reach “Nirvana of Architecture”, why even bother writing an article about it?

Today many companies are investing in building architecture teams. You can say that it has become a modern thing to hire architects to your organisation. This is good in one way, since business leaders finally have recognized that architectural thinking can bring value to their business. But many companies tend to fall into the trap of making things more complicated in regards of ways of working with architecture, than it should be. Resulting in low added business value.

Remember the list above with aspects that aggravate the situation!?

Can you imagine that this list also applies to architecture teams? If our architects don’t “walk the talk” there will be just a small chance of a good result coming out of the architecture team.

Conclusion:

“Nirvana of Architecture” relates to the statement saying “Architects are an important complement to people involved in change, due to the lack of architectural mindset”.

My recommendation is that every architect in any organisation have “Nirvana of Architecture” as a mantra. There will come positive things out of that. Except for driving the architecture agenda towards goals and strategies, they should motivateguide and coach people that are involved in change (e.g. business leaders, business or IT developers, etc), to strengthen their architectural mindset and to be applied into their daily work. All people are not open to this, but one should try to take advantage of the opportunity of those who are.

Out of this comes an improved organizational ability of doing the right things, in the right way and at the right time, where people have better understanding of their business context regarding change.

And a high value adding business growth is important for business success!

The age of innovations

Innovations have become a very important part of business success. New technology trends give us new opportunities, people demands are increasing and we need smarter ways of working. Every organisation has their own ingredients for creating customer value through their products/services. This means that innovations need to be original and fit for purpose to drive business growth and to become a strong player on a competitive market.

But how do you know that your “innovations” are really innovative?

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That is not an easy question to answer, because it depends on many different things. Nowadays the word “innovation” is used for quite different things and different people tend to have different meaning to it. When penetrating this diverse conception, you will get into a deeper understanding of what innovations really are and what they can help you and your organisation with.

First of all, the foundation of an innovation is that it always starts with some kind of new original idea for improvement and ends up with a realisation of that new idea. The realisation must add some kind of value, or else it is not an innovation.

In order to understand this relation, we will discuss “new idea”, “realisation” and “added value” separately.

New Idea

Anyone in the organisation can come up with good new ideas. It does not mean that every idea is good, but any role in an organisation have a specific insight and perspective that can evoke good ideas by finding new ways. The same goes with customers, partners and suppliers that can contribute based on their perspectives and knowledge.

The new idea can either be:

  1. a new concept realised by a new solution
  2. a new concept realised by an already possessed solution, currently used for another purpose.
  3. a new and better solution to realise a current concept

With use of the word concept above we mean our business conception of “what we need to achieve”. To realise that need we choose solutions that forms the enterprise. Consider the following list of different types of enterprise solutions:

  • Ways of working
  • Roles and responsibility
  • Co-workers
  • Our language to communicating internally and externally
  • Products
  • Services
  • Office locations and supplies
  • Software
  • Infrastructure
  • Technical machines

…the list can be made quite long…

Does this mean that innovations can be invented anywhere by anyone?

Yes, it can! But that does not mean that every new idea should be realised. It is just the ones that adds value worth investing in, you should put into real action.

Realisation

Who in your organisation is responsible for the ordinary development or improvement of the different enterprise solutions mentioned above?

Probably it is different business units for different things. Some are changed ad hoc and some in a more mature way. So the conclusion is that all these business units need to have the ability to handle new ideas and sort out the innovations that adds value worth investing in. These business units should be allowed (with pronounced responsibility) to put innovations into real action, but with involved architectural guidance it can be done efficiently. 

Added Value

How do we sort out good new ideas from not-that-good new ideas?

The easy answer is “good ideas = adds value”.

But a more nuanced answer is that innovations is about revolutionary change. In the very end, they should be seen as a vehicle or catalyst for growth. Our different enterprise solutions are there for different specific purposes, and a good new idea can help us fulfilling that purpose. As stated before, a new idea could even introduce new purposes for achieving the business vision.

Some general purposes where innovations might come to hand:

  • Reaching business goals
  • Improve business operation
  • Improve products or services to increase customer value and strengthen the brand in a competitive market
  • Forming a well performing organisation and motivated co-workers

Innovation model (4)

Innovation principles

To not get stuck in the jungle of innovations invented both internally and externally it is a good practice to let your decisions be guided by the following principles. They will help you stay on track.

  • To reach your goals, your innovations need to do that as well.
  • Innovations can be invented anywhere by anyone, don’t miss the opportunity.
  • Release originality, not anarchy
  • Let the mission and purpose guide you.
  • Prioritize both innovations and regular development initiatives all together.
  • Handle new ideas based on their ROI.
  • With architectural guidance your innovations should be more efficient.
  • Handle innovative concepts or solutions based on how they fit into or improve the business model.

Effektiv och lättrörlig verksamhet med motiverade medarbetare

Kan man nå ett stadie där man har en verksamhet som är både effektiv och lättrörlig, och samtidigt en organisation som består av motiverade och välmående medarbetare?

Av de företag vi träffar har många en svårrörlig verksamhet och en organisation som har det tufft att utföra sina uppgifter på ett effektivt och målmedvetet sätt, där prioritering styrs av affären. En stor bidragande faktor kan vara att förändringstakten har ökat utom företagets kontroll. Förmågan att kunna förändras är mycket viktigare idag än det tidigare varit.

Customer value, business excellence and customer satisfaction

Utgångspunkten är att vi vill ha en organisation som skapar ett så stort värde till kunden att det gynnar affären både på kort och lång sikt. Detta kan fås genom att förbättra verksamhetens värdeskapande. Men för att uppnå en effektiv verksamhet behövs även motiverade medarbetare, och det är balansen mellan dessa perspektiven som är avgörande.

Genom att styra verksamhetsförändring på ett taktiskt plan, utifrån kunskapen om den underliggande struktur som påverkar hur vi agerar och våra resultat, kommer styrningen bli mer effektiv.

För att kunna ta medvetna beslut krävs först och främst en strategisk inriktning som beskriver företagets målbild och i grova drag planen för att ta sig dit. En del företag vi träffar har en väldigt tydlig strategi och en del hjälper vi att ta fram en strategi. Detta är viktigt för att kunna säkerställa att alla i organisationen är på väg åt både rätt och samma håll, för att undvika onödiga kostnader eller risker för företagets överlevnad.

När strategin är tydlig kan man börja titta på de olika delarna som påverkar verksamhetens resultat. Det skiljer sig från olika situationer var fokus behöver läggas. Vid svårrörlighet, prioriteringsproblem och stressade medarbetare läggs främst fokus på verksamhetens förmågor, processerna och roller utifrån ett värdeperspektiv. Genom att ta fram en interagerande målbild utifrån strategin har man sedan ett verktyg för att förbättra situationen.

Enkelhet och tydlighet i vad olika personer i organisationen ansvarar för och vad man förväntas göra, bidrar i sin tur med en förbättrad förmåga att generera rätt kundvärde (internt eller externt) och prioritera rätt saker. Det blir även lättare att motivera sina medarbetare, då man har en mötespunkt mellan vad medarbetaren själv vill i relation med vad företaget behöver.

Det kan även handla om att IT-stödet behöver förbättras i arbetsprocesserna. Undermåligt IT-stöd är ofta en bidragande faktor till ineffektiva organisationer eller frustrerade medarbetare. I vissa fall kan även IT-landskapet bidra med både svårrörlighet och onödigt höga kostnader, och här kan ideala målbilder för IT-avdelningen hjälpa till, som kan ge en bättre förankring i verksamheten och affären.

I vårt arbete med att förbättra för våra kunder är det alltid deras egna situation som avgör vad vi fokuserar på i förbättringsarbetet. Vårt tillvägagångssätt kan se lite olika ut från kund till kund. Men vi har alltid ett underliggande mindset och ramverk som vi lutar oss på. Det är kundens strategiska inriktningen som styr och guidar oss för att kunna skapa så stor nytta som möjligt till våra kunder.