Agility within The Open Group

By Terry Blevins, Fellow of The Open Group and Enterprise Architect at Enterprise Wise LLC

What an exciting event in the city of Denver, Colorado the week of July 22, 2019! If you were at this conference, you would probably have noticed the breadth and depth of work happening in The Open Group and, as well, noticed the impact it is having throughout various industries. A lot of really great stuff is going on thanks to those Members working on real issues best addressed through collaboration! Kudos to the Members!!

One of the things I heard from some Members, expressed as a “potential” issue, was work being done that might be considered overlapping. Specifically referenced was TOGAF® Architecture Development Method, the Digital Practitioner Body of Knowledge™ (DPBoK) Standard, and Snapshot of The Open Group Agile Architecture Framework™ Standard. After giving this some thought I felt compelled to present the optimistic view of this based on my experience with The Open Group over three decades!

In their article ‘The Discipline of Creativity’, in the Winter 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, Joseph V. Sinfield, Tim Gustafson and Brian Hindo introduce the concept of divergence before convergence as a brainstorming step in the process of creativity. The authors of this concept see the value in facilitating and enabling the collection of a larger set of ideas, from more viewpoints, in contrast to accepting status quo. In my experience it works!

This concept applies to what we are seeing at The Open Group, whether done purposefully or naturally! Members of The Open Group come together and work on problems or opportunities that they encounter in a real business or mission sense. For example, a number of organizations saw the opportunity to collaborate in the area of Digital Transformation which is something that all organizations are dealing with in some form or fashion.  Another group of Members saw a specific problem of the relationship of Agile development and Enterprise Architecture (EA) – again something that the Members were encountering in real life scenarios. Each of these efforts has had contribution from a wide range of viewpoints and, as they progress, will be influenced by even more viewpoints – divergence before convergence within each effort!

The ‘diverge before you converge’ model doesn’t stop there – each of the above efforts, and the various viewpoints expressed therein, represent divergent ideas for consideration in other areas such as the TOGAF Standard, a standard of The Open Group, and/or between the Open Agile Architecture Framework™ (O-AAF) and Digital Practitioner Body of Knowledge Standard. As each of these standards evolve, those divergent ideas will be considered and converge as appropriate in the right places. Already there are efforts where folks working on the TOGAF Standard are considering the impact of the findings from the O-AAF . A potential convergence point will be when the TOGAF Standard is updated as appropriate for those generally applicable items and where the O-AAF is updated to stand by itself as a specific framework for dealing with architecture in the scenario of digital transformation using agile techniques.

All of the above is enabled by a purposefully designed agile model within The Open Group. That model is founded on creating an environment where Members can work on what and when they need to work on things. Only two Members need to agree to collaborate in order to work on something within The Open Group. There is very light weight governance within The Open Group. The Open Group Governing Board does more to support Member activity in contrast to making demands. Rather than eliminating “duplicate” efforts, the Board encourages leverage and collaboration and downstream convergence as appropriate.

This model of agility within The Open Group has made it possible to move from an organization primarily focused on UNIX® and TOGAF Standards, to one that quickly brings in efforts for Open Process Automation™, Healthcare, Risk Management (Security), IT4IT™, and Open Subsurface Data Universe™ Forums.

Hope to see you at The Open Group Amsterdam in November!  #ogAMS   @theopengroup

Terence Blevins, a Fellow of The Open Group, is owner of Enterprise Wise LLC and a semi-retired Enterprise Architect. He is currently a Director of The Open Group Governing Board.

Terry has been involved with the architecture discipline since the 1980s, much of which was done while he was Director of Strategic Architecture at NCR Corporation. Terry has been working with The Open Group since 1996 when he first was introduced to The Open Group Architecture Forum. He was co-chair of the Architecture Forum and frequent contributor of content to the TOGAF® framework including the Business Scenario Method. Currently, he is excited to continue advancements on Boundaryless Healthcare Information Flow, specifically through the judicious application of Enterprise Architecture.

Terry was Vice President and CIO of The Open Group where he contributed to The Open Group vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™.