What is Business Architecture? Well think of it like this. Congratulations, after months of ‘strategic thinking’ you’ve made an investment in a property business. You’ve gone out to the market and found an amazing piece of land, it is perfect place to house your very first complex of shops, restaurants and urban living apartments; you even have in your possession a beautiful sketch of your vision.
Quite rightly, you are feeling rather darn proud of yourself.
Within a week you’ve got builders on site and you present your sketch with great delight. But we know that you’re no fool, you’ve thought deeply about this. You’ve got 10 builders, each tasked with either building a shop, a restaurant or one of the ‘urban living’ apartments; but you don’t stop there! You’ve even gone above and beyond and put a full style guide together, complete with colour palettes, each of the regulations that must be adhered too and an optional cool extra for the hipsters, samples for mood lighting.
But do me a small favour and hang on for just one minute and let me ask you a question…..
Does this sound like a well thought out approach to you?
You answered no? Are you sure about that?
Planning is Essential
Well ok, this is somewhat extreme of an example, and that probably is the right answer but hopefully you are picking up on the point. Let’s be real, you would never dream of taking an approach such as this on a multi-million-pound property investment. Instead, you would have brought in architects to draw up plans as well as specialists who could put an overall infrastructure plan together that covered off the plumbing, the gas and the electrics. Only once these things are done would you actually let the builders come anywhere near the development.
Now you can go about realising your vision in many ways, achieving great speeds with an increased use of pre-fabricated components; wireless electrics; renewable energies and all sorts of other modern practices. But no matter how cool the tech, it still doesn’t negate the need for that all important architectural design to be completed first; this is the necessary ‘groundwork’. It is this activity that helps you to understand which modern components can be used, how they can be sympathetically integrated with traditional materials as well as understanding the implications that lay ahead if these components change. As is often the case on building sites (or even in your own DIY project), you will most likely unearth something that is unexpected. As a result the builder, the architect and the owner must then get together to discuss options and agree a way forward. The important thing to remember is that this does not have be a slow process.
Now I’m aware that I have laboured the point here somewhat, but I always find it fascinating that applying the same rigour discussed here is continually argued over in many organisations as something that is holding them back. There are some that will vehemently argue that it does nothing but delay delivery by adding another layer of needless governance.
But the entire concept of this sounds crazy to me. If you wouldn’t take a cowboy approach to the development of your property from the ground up, why would you then take one to the development of the infrastructure of your business?
A Bi-Lingual Approach
You will notice that I haven’t mentioned some of the key approaches that you might expect to see; be it Enterprise Architecture, Technical Architecture, Business Architecture, Operating Models, Blueprints, Transition Architecture, Scrum, Kanban, or even SAFe (and the list could readily go on). This is because it’s quite simple, you may use any language that you like, but, you will always need to have Architecture involved in your Business if you want to make it a success.
Those Architects may well be there to develop a vision that you can build upon, to ask the right questions that really enable growth, or in some instances, to draw a picture that just might also include that lovely mood lighting that you’ve always wanted.
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