Tag Archives: Allen Brown

The Open Group Edinburgh—The State of Boundaryless Information Flow™ Today

By The Open Group

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first version of TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, and the publication of “The Boundaryless Organization,” a book that defined how companies should think about creating more open, flexible and engaging organizations. We recently sat down with The Open Group President and CEO Allen Brown and Ron Ashkenas, Senior Partner at Schaffer Consulting and one of the authors of “The Boundaryless Organization,” to get a perspective on Boundaryless Information Flow™ and where the concept stands today. Brown and Ashkenas presented their perspectives on this topic at The Open Group Edinburgh event on Oct. 20.

In the early 1990s, former GE CEO Jack Welch challenged his team to create what he called a “boundaryless organization”—an organization where the barriers between employees, departments, customers and suppliers had been broken down. He also suggested that in the 21st Century, all organizations would need to move in this direction.

Based on the early experience of GE, and a number of other companies, the first book on the subject, “The Boundaryless Organization,” was published in 1995. This was the same year that The Open Group released the first version of the TOGAF® standard, which provided an architectural framework to help companies achieve interoperability by providing a structure for interconnecting legacy IT systems. Seven years later, The Open Group adopted the concept of Boundaryless Information Flow™—achieved through global interoperability in a secure, reliable and timely manner—as the ongoing vision and mission for the organization. According to Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group, that vision has sustained The Open Group over the years and continues to do so as the technology industry faces unprecedented and rapid change.

Brown’s definition of Boundaryless Information Flowis rooted in the notion of permeability. Ron Ashkenas, a co-author of “The Boundaryless Organization” emphasizes that organizations still need boundaries—without some boundaries they would become “dis-organized.” But like the cells walls in the human body, those boundaries need to be sufficiently permeable so that information can easily flow back and forth in real time, without being distorted, fragmented or blocked.

In that context, Brown believes that learning to be boundaryless today is more important than ever for organizations, despite the fact that many of the boundaries that existed in 1995 no longer exist, and the technical ability to share information around the world will continue to evolve. What often holds organizations back however, says Ashkenas, are the social and cultural patterns within organizations, not the technology.

“We have a tendency to protect information in different parts of the organization,” says Ashkenas. “Different functions, locations, and business units want their own version of ‘the truth’ rather than being held accountable to a common standard. This problem becomes even more acute across companies in a globally connected ecosystem and world. So despite our technological capabilities, we still end up with different systems, different information available at different times. We don’t have the common true north. The need to be more boundaryless is still there.  In fact it’s greater now, even though we have the capability to do it.”

Although the technical capabilities for Boundaryless Information Flow are largely here, the larger issue is getting people to agree and collaborate on how to do things. As Ashkenas explains, “It’s not just the technical challenges, it’s also cultural challenges, and the two have to go hand-in-hand.”

What’s more, collaboration is not just an issue of getting individuals to change, but of making changes at much larger levels on a much larger scale. Not only are boundaries now blurring within organizations, they’re blurring between institutions and across global ecosystems, which may include anything from apps, devices and technologies to companies, countries and cultures.

Ashkenas says that’s where standards, such as those being created by The Open Group, can help make a difference.  He says, “Standards used to come after technology. Now they need to come before the changes and weave together some of the ecosystem partners. I think that’s one of the exciting new horizons for The Open Group and its members—they can make a fundamental difference in the next few years.”

Brown agrees. He says that there are two major forces currently facing how The Open Group will continue to shape the Boundaryless Information Flow vision. One is the need for standards to address the changing perspective needed of the IT function from an “inside-out” to “outside-in” model fueled by a combination of boundaryless thinking and the convergence of social, mobile, Cloud, the Internet of Things and Big Data. The other is the need to shift from IT strategies being derived from business strategies and reacting to the business agenda that leads to redundancy and latency in delivering new solutions. Instead, IT must shift to recognize technology as increasingly driving business opportunity and that IT must be managed as a business in its own right.

For example, twenty years ago a standard might lag behind a technology. Once companies no longer needed to compete on the technology, Brown says, they would standardize. With things like Open Platform 3.0™ and the need to manage the business of IT (IT4IT™) quickly changing the business landscape, now standards need to be at the forefront, along with technology development, so that companies have guidance on how to navigate a more boundaryless world while maintaining security and reliability.

“This is only going to get more and more exciting and more and more interesting,” Brown says.

How boundaryless are we?

Just how boundaryless are we today? Ashkenas says a lot has been accomplished in the past 20 years. Years ago, he says, people in most organizations would have thought that Boundaryless Information Flow was either not achievable or they would have shrugged their shoulders and ignored the concept. Today there’s a strong acceptance of the need for it. In fact, a recent survey of The Open Group members found that 65 percent of those surveyed believe boundarylessness as a positive thing within their organization. And while most organizations are making strides toward boundarylessness, only a minority–15 percent—of those surveyed felt that Boundaryless Information Flow was something that would be impossible to achieve in a large international organization such as theirs.

According to Brown and Ashkenas, the next horizon for many organizations will be to truly make information flow more accessible in real-time for all stakeholders. Ashkenas says in most organizations the information people need is not always available when people need it, whether this is due to different systems, cultural constraints or even time zones. The next step will be to provide managers real-time, anywhere access to all the information they need. IT can help play a bigger part in providing people a “one truth” view of information, he says.

Another critical—but potentially difficult—next step is to try to get people to agree on how to make boundarylessness work across ecosystems. Achieving this will be a challenge because ways of doing things—even standards development—will need to adapt to different cultures in order for them to ultimately work. What makes sense in the U.S. or Europe from a business standpoint may not make sense in China or India or Brazil, for example.

“What are the fundamentals that have to be accepted by everyone and where is there room for customization to local cultures?” asks Ashkenas. “Figuring out the difference between the two will be critical in the coming years.”

Brown and Ashkenas say that we can expect technical innovations to evolve at greater speed and with greater effectiveness in the coming years. This is another reason why Enterprise Architecture and standards development will be critical for helping organizations transform themselves and adapt as boundaries blur even more.

As Brown notes, the reason that the architecture discipline and standards such as TOGAF arose 20 years ago was exactly because organizations were beginning to move toward boundarylessness and they needed a way to figure out how to frame those environments and make them work together. Before then, when IT departments were implementing different siloed systems for different functions across organizations, they had no inkling that someday people might need to share that information across systems or departments, let alone organizations.

“It never crossed our minds that we’d need to add people or get information from disparate systems and put them together to make some sense. It wasn’t information, it was just data. The only way in any complex organization that you can start weaving this together and see how they join together is to have some sort of architecture, an overarching view of the enterprise. Complex organizations have that view and say ‘this is how that information comes together and this is how it’s going to be designed.’ We couldn’t have gotten there without Enterprise Architecture in large organizations,” he says.

In the end, the limitations to Boundaryless Information Flow will largely be organizational and cultural, not a question of technology. Technologically boundarylessness is largely achievable. The question for organizations, Brown says, is whether they’ll be able to adjust to the changes that technology brings.

“The limitations are in the organization and the culture. Can they make the change? Can they absorb it all? Can they adapt?” he says.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why We Like ArchiMate®

What Are Your Thoughts?

By Allen Brown, President & CEO of The Open Group

This year marks the 30th anniversary of my class graduation from the London Business School MBA program. It was 3 years of working full-time for Unilever and studying every minute possible, and tackling what seemed to be impossible case studies on every subject that you would have to deal with when managing a business.

One of the many core subjects was “Operations Management”: organizing people, materials and technology into an efficient unit. The first thing we were taught was that there are no rules, only pressures and opportunities. The next thing was that there are no boundaries to what can have an impact on the subject: from macro issues of structure and infrastructure to micro issues of marketing, capabilities, location, motivation and much more. It required a lot of analysis and a lot of thinking around realistic solutions of how to change the “now” state.

To support this, one of the techniques we were taught was modeling. There was one case study that I recall was about a small company of less than 150 personnel engaged in the manufacture and development of fast sea-based transport. As part of the analysis I modeled the physical flow system which covered all aspects of the operation from sales to customer feedback and from design to shipment – all in pencil and all on one page. An extract is shown here.

By Allen Brown, President & CEO, The Open Group

I don’t know if it’s just me but that looks very similar to some ArchiMate® models I have seen. OK there is not a specific box or symbol for the actors and their roles or for identifying processes but it is clear, who is responsible what, the function or process that they perform and the information or instructions they pass to or receive from their colleagues.

So it should not be surprising that I would like ArchiMate®, even before it became a standard of The Open Group and by the same token many people holding senior positions in organizations today, have also been through MBA programs in the past, or some form of executive training and as such would be familiar with the modeling that I and my classmates were taught and would therefore easily understand ArchiMate models.

Since graduating, I have used modeling on many occasions to assist with understanding of complex processes and to identify where problems, bottlenecks, delays and unnecessary costs arise. Almost everyone, wherever they are in the organization has not only understood them but also been able to improve them, with the possible exception of software developers, who still needed UML and BPMN.

An ArchiMate Focus Group

A few months ago I got together with some users of ArchiMate to try to understand its appeal to others. Some were in large financial services businesses, others were in healthcare and others were in consulting and training organizations.

The first challenge, of course, is that different people, in different situations, with different roles in different organizations in different countries and continents will always see things differently. In The Open Group there are more than 300,000 people from over 230 different countries; nearly one third of those people identify themselves as “architects”; and of those “architects” there are more than 3,400 job titles that contain the word architect. There are also more than 3,500 people who identify themselves as CEO, nearly 5,500 CIO’s etc.

So one size definitely will not fit all and neither will a single statement produced by a small number of people sat in a room for a day.

So what we did was to focus mostly on a senior executive in a major financial services company in the United States whose team is responsible for maintaining the business capability map for the company. After that we tested the results with others in the financial services industry, a representative from the healthcare industry and with an experienced consultant and trainer.

Ground Rules for Feedback

Now, what I would like to get feedback on is your views, which is the reason for writing this blog. As always there are some ground rules for feedback:

  • Please focus on the constructive
  • Please identify the target audience for the messages as closely as you can: e.g. job title / type; industry; geographic location etc

With those thoughts in mind, let me now share what we have so far.

The Value of ArchiMate

For the person that we initially focused on, he felt that The Open Group ArchiMate® Standard is the standard visual language for communicating and managing the impact of change. The reasons behind this are that it bridges between strategy, solutions and execution and it enables explicit communication.

The value of bridging between strategy, solutions and execution is recognized because it:

  • Accelerates value delivery
  • Integrates between disciplines
  • Describes strategic capabilities, milestones and outcomes

Enabling explicit communication is realized because it:

  • Improves understanding at all levels of the organization
  • Enables a short time to benefit
  • Is supported by leading tool vendors

A supporting comment from him was that ArchiMate enables different delivery approaches (e.g. waterfall, agile). From a modeling point of view the diagrams are still the same, but the iteration cycles and utilization of them become very different in the agile method. Interesting thought.

This is obviously different from why I like ArchiMate but also has some similarities (e.g. easily understood by anyone) and it is a perfect example of why we need to recognize the differences and similarities when communicating with different people.

So when we asked others in the financial services whether they agreed or not and to tell us why they like ArchiMate, they all provided great feedback and suggested improvements. They identified two groups

  • The CEO, CIO, Business Analyst and Business Architect; and
  • Areas of business support and IT and Solution Architects and System Analysts.

All agreed that The Open Group ArchiMate® Standard is the standard visual language. Where they varied was in the next line. For the CEO, CIO, Business Analyst and Business Architect target audience the value of ArchiMate, was realized because:

  • It is for modeling the enterprise and managing its change
  • It can support strategic alignment and support impact analysis

Instead of “enabling explicit communication” others preferred the simpler, “clarifies complex systems” but the sub-bullets remained the same. One supporting statement was, “I can show a diagram that most people can understand even without technical knowledge”. Another statement, this time in support of the bridging capability was, “It helps me in unifying the languages of business and IT”.

The value of strategic alignment support was realized through ArchiMate because it:

  • Allows an integrated view
  • Depicts links between drivers and the specific requirements that address them
  • Links between motivation and business models

Its support of impact analysis and decision taking recognizes the bridging capability:

  • Integrates between disciplines: links between cause and effect
  • Describes and allows to identify, strategic capabilities
  • Bridges between strategy, solutions and execution

When the target audience changed to areas of business support and IT or to Solution Architects and System Analysts, the next line became:

  • It is for communicating and managing change that leverages TOGAF® standard usage
  • It can support the development of conceptual representations for the applications and IT platforms and their alignment with business goals

For these audiences the value was still in the ability to clarify complex systems and to bridge between strategy, solutions and execution but the sub-bullets changed significantly:

  • Clarifies complex systems
    • Improves understanding at all levels of the organization
    • Allows integration between domains
    • Provides a standard way to represent inputs and outputs between domains
    • Supports having a standard model repository to create views
  • Bridges between strategy, solutions and execution
    • Allows views segmentation efficiently
    • Allow a consolidated organizational landscape definition business aligned
    • Supports solutions design definition

Unlike my business school models, ArchiMate models are also understandable to software developers.

The feedback from the healthcare organization was strikingly similar. To give an example format for feedback, I will represent it in a way that would be very helpful if you could use for your comments.

Country: USA

Industry: Healthcare

Target Audience: VP of IT

Positioning statement:

The Open Group ArchiMate® Standard is the standard visual language for communicating and managing change and making the enterprise architecture practice more effective.

It achieves this because it:

  • Clarifies complex systems
    • Improves understanding at all levels of the organization
    • Short time to benefit
    • Supported by leading tool vendors
    • Supports a more effective EA delivery
  • Bridges between strategy, solutions and execution
    • Accelerates value delivery
    • Integrates between disciplines
    • Describes strategic capabilities, milestones and outcomes

Feedback from an experienced consultant and trainer was:

Country / Region: Latin America


Target Audience: Director of Business Architecture, Chief EA, Application Architects

Positioning statement:

The Open Group ArchiMate® Standard is the standard visual language for modeling the organization, leveraging communication with stakeholders and managing change

It achieves this because it:

  • Clarifies complex systems and leverage change
    • Improves understanding at all levels of the organization
    • Supported by leading tool vendors
    • Support change impact analysis into the organization and it is a helping tool portfolio management and analysis
    • Supports complex system structures presentation to different stakeholders using a simplified notation
  • Bridges between strategy, solutions and execution
    • Accelerates value delivery
    • Integrates between disciplines
    • Describes strategic capabilities, milestones and outcomes
    • Allow a consolidated organizational landscape definition

Your Feedback

All of this gives us some insight into why a few of us like ArchiMate. I would like to know what you like about ArchiMate or how you talk about it to your colleagues and acquaintances.

So please do not hesitate to let me know. Do you agree with the statements that have been made so far? What improvements would you suggest? How do they resonate in your country, your industry, your organization? What different audiences should be addressed and what messages should we use for them?

Please email your feedback to ArchiMateFeedback@opengroup.org.

By The Open GroupAllen Brown is President and CEO of The Open Group – a global consortium that enables the achievement of business objectives through IT standards.  He is also President of the Association of Enterprise Architects (AEA).

Allen was appointed President & CEO in 1998.  Prior to joining The Open Group, he held a range of senior financial and general management roles both within his own consulting firm, which he founded in 1987, and other multi-national organizations.

Allen is TOGAF® 9 certified, an MBA alumnus of the London Business School and a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

1 Comment

Filed under Allen Brown, ArchiMate®, Business Architecture, Enterprise Transformation, The Open Group

San Francisco Conference Day 2 – Enterprise Transformation: The New Role of Open Standards

By The Open Group Conference Team

The Open Group Conference in San Francisco has brought together a plenary of speakers from across the globe and disciplines. While their perspective on enterprise architecture is different, most seem to agree that enterprise transformation is gaining momentum within the enterprise architecture community. During Day Two of the Conference in San Francisco, a number of speakers continued the discussion and the role that standards play in the process of fundamentally changing the enterprise.

The New Role of Open Standards

Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group set the tone for the day during his opening address, providing an overview of enterprise transformation and the role that enterprise architecture and open standards have in shaping the future.

“It’s a journey, not an event,” stated Brown. He also reinforced that enterprise transformation in not just about reducing costs – it’s about improving capabilities, functionality and communication.

In addition to highlighting the tremendous accomplishments of its over 400 member organizations, Brown showcased a number of case studies from a wide range of global enterprises who are leveraging enterprise architecture (EA). For example:

  • University Health Network in Ontario is utilizing EA as a solution for improving the quality of healthcare without increasing the cost
  • Caja Madrid relies on EA to improve the bank’s capabilities while reducing its vulnerabilities and the cost of those vulnerabilities
  • SASOL, an integrated energy company in South Africa, is utilizing EA to improve the organization’s function while reducing cost
  • Cisco is utilizing EA as it provides a common language for cross functional communication

Brown also mentioned the release of a new open standard from the FACE Consortium, which is transforming the avionics industry. According to Capt. Tracy Barkhimer, program manager for the Air Combat Electronics Program Office (PMA-209), the new standard “is quite possibly the most important innovation in Naval aviation since computers were first incorporated into airplanes. This will truly pave the way for the future.”

An Architecture –based Approach

The next plenary speaker was Bill Rouse, the Executive Director of Tennenbaum Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a professor in the College of Computing and School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. His research focuses on understanding and managing complex public-private systems such as healthcare, energy and defense, with emphasis on mathematical and computational modeling of these systems for the purpose of policy design and analysis.

Rouse posed the notion: you can be the innovator or the transformer.

Of course all businesses want to be the former. So how is architecture involved? According to Rouse, architectures are transformative by nature by providing evidence-based decision making by looking at an enterprise’s operational systems, technical levels and socio-technical architectures. However, as he pointed out: “You have to being willing to change.”

Building a Roadmap to Solve the Problem

Tim Barnes, Chief Architect at Devon Energy, one of North America’s leading independent producers of oil and natural gas, shared his hands-on experience with enterprise architecture and the keys to the company’s success. After the company experienced a profound growth between 1998 and 2010, the company needed to simplify its system to eliminate berries that were impacting business growth and driving excessive IT costs. Barnes was chartered by Devon to develop an EA discipline for the company and leverage the EA process to reduce unnecessary complexity, help streamline the business and lower IT costs.

The Cyber Threat

Rounding out the lineup of plenary speakers was Joseph Menn, a renowned journalist in the area of cyber security and the author of Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet.

When it comes to cybercrime and security, “no one is telling us how bad it really is,” said Menn. After providing a few fear-provoking examples, and instilling that the Stuxnet affair is just a small example of things to come, Menn made it clear that government will only provide a certain level of protection – enterprises must take action to protect themselves and their intellectual property.

Comments Off on San Francisco Conference Day 2 – Enterprise Transformation: The New Role of Open Standards

Filed under Certifications, Cybersecurity, Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Transformation, FACE™, Standards