Enterprise Architecture Stories

Interview with Whynde Kuehn (Strategy to Reality) 2/2

Interview with Whynde Kuehn (Strategy to Reality) 2/2

This is part 2/2 of my interview with Whynde Kuehn. You can read the first part in my previous blog post.

As mentioned earlier, I recently had the honor of speaking with Whynde Kuehn, author of Strategy to Reality.

Whynde is a long-time Business Architecture practitioner and thought leader, who has practiced the discipline from just about every angle you can imagine. Today, her focus is on helping organizations to build their capacity for end-to-end strategy to execution and build their strategic business architecture practices. Whynde loves making a difference and helping people. This is probably one of the reasons why she agreed to this interview.

Her book, Strategy to Reality, provides a practical approach to leveraging Business Architecture and is considered a must-read for any Business or Enterprise Architect.

The interview

The interview is divided into two parts. The first set of questions was posted in an earlier blog, which you can find here. The remaining six questions are presented in my previous blog.

So, here we go (again)!

Q6. I feel that there is a role shift going on in the world of architecture. The Chief Architect assumes the role of the Enterprise Architect, the role of Enterprise Architect seems to focus more on Business Architecture, thus taking the position of the Business Architect. Do you recognise this shift or amalgamation? If so, what remains for the current Business Architect?

I do see some shifts where Enterprise Architects are focusing more on Business Architecture, and I do see cases where the Business Architect role has been replaced with a full stack Enterprise Architect role (which the previous Business Architects may or may not move into). For example, I see this trend in organizations that are going through the project to product transition.

However, by far I see an overall increase in the Business Architect role worldwide, not a decrease – especially as the discipline gains new traction with awareness and positioning as a critical enabler of strategy execution.

Having more Business Architecture competency and focus in the Enterprise Architect role is a very good thing, especially as we have often seen that the role can be very technology focused. However, there is a risk of the pendulum swinging too far here, so organizations should not oversimplify or overlook the unique and essential need for the Business Architecture perspective and the Business Architect role.

To my earlier point of Business Architecture bridging the worlds of strategic management and Enterprise Architecture across a spectrum of business and technology usage scenarios, I believe that there will always be a role for:

  • Business people to leverage business architecture in their roles;
  • Business Architects to translate strategy and support strategic decision making;
  • All other architects (Enterprise, Application, Data, Technology, Solution) to be conversant in and leverage their organization’s Business Architecture. 

The Business Architecture perspective and the business architect role are inherently business centered, and Business Architects in particular embody unique thought processes, skillsets, and objectivity.

Our job as architects is to translate our organizations’ strategies into a defined set of strategic focal points and then connect them to value streams and capabilities in the Business Architecture.

Whynde Kuehn

Q7. Strategies is one of the topics discussed in the BIZBOK® Guide, to which you also contributed. The topic does not go very deep into drivers, goals and objectives, unlike other methodologies or frameworks such as TOGAF®. Does this topic belong to Business Architecture to a sufficient extent, or is it perhaps better suited in the context of Enterprise Architecture?

The domain of strategy is included within the scope of Business Architecture and is represented through defined strategic focal points (e.g., strategy, goal, objective, metric, course of action).

However, the definition and rigor of this topic belongs to the strategy discipline itself and the experts in that field. Our job as architects is to translate our organizations’ strategies, however they are articulated, into the defined set of strategic focal points and then connect them to value streams and capabilities in the Business Architecture (which connect to other domains within the business and IT Architectures). This is how we turn strategy into a coordinated set of actions across people, process, and technology, and ensure that strategy and execution stay aligned on an ongoing basis.

I think the BIZBOK Guide has taken a good approach in this respect by deferring to other discipline owners to define their space (e.g., strategy, human centered design, business process management, business analysis). The BIZBOK Guide simply defines how to connect the domains within each of those disciplines back to the Business Architecture.

Q8. There is a lively discussion going on at online platforms about architecture concepts such as value streams versus business processes and capabilities versus business functions. One could argue this is just a case of tomayto, tomahto. Do you share the belief that there are differences between the concepts?

These discussions highlight the importance of sharing a common language and mental model (what we as architects suggest that our organizations do). The quicker we can get the architectures built for our organizations, the quicker our organizations can be using them for the decision making and value for which they were intended.

Slightly oversimplifying across these concepts, I believe we need to represent the abilities that an organization has to deliver its products and services and support its operations, business flows that put those abilities in context to deliver value to stakeholders, and an organizational perspective to understand who has those abilities. (Business Architecture of course represents other business perspectives not mentioned here as well.)

I do see these architecture concepts as different, but how one interprets them will depend on the framework that they are using. I’m an advocate of the BIZBOK Guide and use that as my foundation. I work with organizations to adapt it and/or connect it with other frameworks (e.g., TOGAF), where necessary, and help people to make informed decisions so they can leverage their architecture for the intended insights and value.

For us to truly come together on these concepts, I think we need live conversations that are anchored in the spirit of true collaboration and doing what is best for our organizations. I see a future where we will have more lively, collaborative, and supportive discussions focused on how we are all using architecture to solve problems and bring value to our organizations and societies – and less focus on modeling.

Q9. Most organisations have existed for years, even without the application or leveraging of Business Architecture. Why should an organisation spend time, money a attention on the application or implementation of Business Architecture?

Organizations today have a whole new set of dynamics and forces, making Business Architecture even more relevant and valuable. In particular, organizations are reacting to:

  • An increasing pace of change and disruption;
  • A greater need for transparency and cohesiveness (e.g., for customer experience or compliance);
  • Working in business ecosystems – all while needing to manage and modernize complex legacy environments in many cases.

Simply stated, Business Architecture gives organizations the ability to do change well. The ability to turn business direction into action quickly and effectively is now competitive advantage. (Or, for governments, NGOs, and non-profits, Business Architecture helps to deliver on the mission with the most effective use of resources.) 

Business Architecture creates organizational agility through its unique role to inform and translate strategy and align it with execution, coupled with its ability to help organizations design with modular business building blocks (thus creating a composable enterprise).

Business Architecture also adds brand new insights for more holistic decision making on risk, compliance, investments, cost management, sustainability, M&A1, emerging technologies, business continuity, and so much more.

Realistically, I think that meeting the full set of requirements for Business Architecture to be a profession is still a way into the future.

Whynde Kuehn

Q10. In your opinion, what’s next for Business Architecture? Can the profession grow anymore? And if so, what will be its direction?

By all indicators, the discipline of Business Architecture is growing globally. Over the horizon, I see a focus on:

  • Education and socialization to inform and reinform various audiences about what Business Architecture is, how it can be leveraged as a strategic business discipline, and how it works within an interdisciplinary context. This includes a particular focus on executives, academia, and mainstream business literature;
  • Capacity building, including competency development for Business Architecture practitioners as well as the establishment and maturation of strategic Business Architecture practices within organizations (integrated with Enterprise Architecture and other related teams);
  • Organizations leveraging Business Architecture for strategic change including strategy translation, transformation, business model shifts, business ecosystem design, and other increasingly relevant business topics such as sustainability and the adoption of emerging technologies.

I think each of these focus areas will continue to evolve how the Business Architect role is practiced and how the Business Architecture discipline is used by other people.

I would like to say that we will see more professionalization of Business Architecture (both on its own and within an Enterprise Architecture context), but realistically I think that meeting the full set of requirements to be a profession is still a way into the future.

Q11. And what is next for you? Any plans on releasing another book on this great profession?

My personal focus over the next horizon falls along similar lines. I am tremendously passionate about:

  • Advocacy and education for these ideas within an executive and higher education context;  
  • Business Architecture capacity and community building for individual professionals and organizations. 

Both of these work together so that as we create demand for the discipline we can also meet it with the next generation of Business Architects who are ready to help build organizations that are valuable, effective, agile, and sustainable.

My journey with Strategy to Reality has still only begun. My goal is to make sure it finds every pair of hands it is meant to be in, no more and no less. I also intend to create more resources to help people move into action on the ideas within the book.

I am currently co-authoring a book on architecting strategy execution to be published in 2024. (More details to come!) Beyond that I will most certainly be writing my next book(s) and I cannot wait. It is my greatest joy and honor to be part of this global architecture community and to co-create new ways of thinking about, designing, and doing business in the future.

The end

And that concludes my interview with Whynde Kuehn. As a writer, but certainly as a person, Whynde is a consummate professional. Combined with her pleasant way of communicating and her drive to help people, I can only say that it was an absolute pleasure and honour to do this interview with her.

Be sure to keep a lookout for her next book. I am sure I will!

1 Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are business transactions in which the ownership of companies, business organizations, or their operating units are transferred to or consolidated with another company or business organization.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Popular posts