Fusing Design With Enterprise Architecture

By Hugh Evans

The following is an excerpt from our white-paper Experience Architecture: Designing for Human-Centred Transformation. This is part 2 of a 4 part series find part one here. To read more about FromHereOn and the application of experience architecture to organisations visit our website, LinkedIn or download the whole white-paper here.

In progressive organisations much attention is given to a desired customer experience, with service designers fashioning digital and physical interactions to satisfy and delight. We have found there is often a disconnect between the experience vision and the ability for the organisation to execute.

Like architects, engineers and builders in the construction industry there are often gaps in understanding and communication that affect the execution of a great design. This demands a fusion between Design Thinking and Enterprise Architecture practice.

A formative case study: in 2014 FromHereOn commenced an ambitious project to create a single technology services organisation for a global bank based in Europe. To execute this project we partnered with a strategic design firm1, bringing together a team of designers and architects to shape the global vision and purpose for the initiative and to deliver the operating model design and strategy for change. We knew it was going to be challenging at times as we knitted design and architecture teams together who had two very different execution approaches and engagement styles.

Our respective approaches and skill sets proved highly complementary, in most instances. Together we applied human-centred design techniques to reveal core motivation of the leadership and to richly study and understand the nature of the internal consumers of the future services. We employed business and technology architecture techniques to understand current and required capabilities and to design the future operating model for a new global technology organisation that will service their global operations. The project was not without its challenges.

Early in the project there was debate across teams about whether business capabilities should be modelled in order to inform the future service vision — or wait until the human-centred design research into consumers and their concerns had been completed. We decided to wait as the designers did not want to be constrained by a perspective of existing business capabilities at the generative phase of the project. On reflection this turned out to be a mistake as we would have strengthened our relationships with the technical teams by better understanding their concerns at that stage.

This illustrates the importance of empathising with stakeholders and their circumstances in the existing operating environment. When it comes to complex business change, design practice needs to be grounded in relevant content and context. We need to take the lead from architects in the construction industry and just as they are subject matter experts in construction, site works, and design, we need appropriately sophisticated business and technology management capability to link the design process to organisational change (construction).

While overcoming some challenges, the project outcome was highly acclaimed by our client and proved a successful innovation for our respective teams. The experience was pivotal in shaping our current approach of combining Design Thinking and Enterprise Architecture disciplines, reinforcing the need for a balanced focus between the existing environment and the future vision.

The Design of Business

Design Thinking and Enterprise Architecture are closely related but distinct disciplines. Design Thinking has its origins in product design, whereas traditional Enterprise Architecture is a strategic business and IT planning practice. Design Thinking is well suited to identifying creative solutions to difficult-to-define ‘wicked’ problems. Architecture Thinking, on the other hand, is well suited to the realisation of solutions to multi layer business problems from the top levels of strategy through to project execution.

‘Business Design’ is the term FromHereOn uses to describe the meshing of Design Thinking and Architecture Thinking to drive the end-to-end execution of a strategic vision. Business Design encompasses creative design together with engineering thoroughness and rigour to achieve the realisation of transformative change. Business Design can be thought of as a journey that starts out with grounding in purpose and moves through progressive waypoints considering aligned business models, value creation, services, capabilities and resources and summits at the execution of a roadmap that realises the desired vision.

About FromHereOn

We are a business design and architecture consultancy. We help redesign and transform organisations, to strengthen relationships with customers and staff, improving business performance and value.

Our approach combines human-centered design and strategic architecture methods, helping clients realise ambitious possibilities to innovate and stay ahead of the competition.

If you are interested in finding out more reach out we’d love to talk further about how we could partner with your business. If you would like to read more about FromHereOn and the application of experience architecture to organisations visit our website, LinkedIn or download the white-paper here.

We design, transform and optimise organisations to create services and experiences that people love.