Business Architecture Right-sized: Introducing Digital Product Model Masters

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Reference frameworks and methods to manipulate data faster-better-cheaper, but more importantly to project trust, attract, serve, and keep profitable customers for life — using just the right-size application of best practices

As a fractional CTO / CMTO I deliver fast-paced evolutions of software development and product management into high-performing teams supported by the development and deployment of scalable and secure growth clouds.

Over time I have assembled case studies of what works, and what does not. This is the first of several articles and presentations I am sharing to introduce you to those lessons.

I have packaged them into a framework that I call Digital Product Model Masters.

As a trusted partner of my clients, I lead discovery of strategy, architecture, and transformation steps using this reference framework. It is not necessarily easy but has one main desired outcome: trust enablement as the foundation of growth acceleration.


Digital Product Model Masters

“Information technology is at the core of how you do your business and how your business model itself evolves.” — Satya Nadella

I’ve compiled lessons learned of what works into a simplified lightweight version for today’s rapidly evolving enterprises.

I started with the most relevant parts of Strategic Planning, Strategy Maps, Value Stream Mapping, Capability Maturity Models, Business Capability Management, and Enterprise Architecture. Think of these as legacy foundations for management and strategy.

I’ve blended elements of Business Process Management, Project Management, Lean Six Sigma, Agile Development and Product Management. These represent extensions or specialties, each developed to achieve more specific and tactical outcomes.

I have right-sized these often large and cumbersome frameworks and process models into a lean, mean and quickly deployed action framework.

Together they are a Master Class on right-sized models appropriate for organizations large and small.

This figure below depicts the three domains of a Digital Product Model Master. It balances the fundamental elements of Tools, Flows, and Teams required to enable scalable and secure growth…in an effective, efficient, agile, and sustainable manner.

Elements of Scalable SECURE Growth Digital Product Model Masters

The models of the DPMM define what actions teams of people take as actors in processes; activity flows that create and utilize data; using tools and technology for assistance, automation, and scalability.

The simpler the definitions, the better we understand how to repeatedly do things effectively and efficiently.

Better organizations execute needed functions, desired organizational outcomes will be attained with sustainability over time.

Keeping things simple allows organizations to execute well, train new resources easily, and to be agile as conditions change.

Digital Product Masters are one of the keystones for Digitalization of the Enterprise.

Let’s start with the established and well-known construct of People, Process, and Technology, extending that to Teams, Flows, and Tools.


People Process Technology (PPT)

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw

The concept of the PPT triangle goes back to at least the 1950’s and the work of Dr. Harold Leavitt.

First published in 1958 and in 1965, “Managerial Psychology: An Introduction to Individuals, Pairs, and Groups in Organizations”. The work introduces the Leavitt diamond model:

The Leavitt Business Diamond

Leavitt builds in part on Frederick Taylor and “The Principles of Scientific Management”, to look at how to organize as humans and not as automatons. In other words, respect of human dignity.

From the Organization Change Management and the Synergetics disciplines, we know that change introduces unstable elements.

I am building on Leavitt’s work in principle, but aim to achieve balance to address instability.

3D Triangle pyramids (tetrahedrons) are more stable than 2D diamonds and triables. They provide excellent foundation upon which to build effective solutions.

PPT triangle supporting a fourth element

Often instability masquerades as brittleness and inflexibility. In the Leavitt model, Structure is a major component.

But organization charts do not empower an organization’s success, Business Capabilities do.

Business Capability represents the fourth domain of the tetrahedron.


Business Capability Focus

“One capability every business is expected to have is the capability to make money. It requires a certain kind of discipline, a certain kind of mindset.”

— Steve Ballmer

Capability Def. /ˌkāpəˈbilədē/ (noun) Measure of the ability of an entity (department, organization, person, system) to achieve its objectives, especially in relation to its overall mission.

A business capability defines “what” a business does at its core. This differs from “how” things are done or where they are done. A business capability is the expression or the articulation of the capacity, materials, and expertise an organization needs in order to perform core functions.

By adding capability to the triad of people, process, technology I create a stable 3D tetrahedron instead of an unstable 2D triangle.

Capability is the fourth domain

Strategy-driven Business capabilities are the core of business architecture.

That is why Business Capability Mapping (BCM) has become my go-to tool for understanding how an organization’s business needs can be enabled by IT solutions.

I use BCM to discover feature sets of software that will enable actors in a process to execute crucial activities and deliver desired business value.

So where capabilities can help define and envision processes in a reengineering effort, the also illuminate areas where automation and assistance via technology can improve Business Functions.

I find that the missing link between strategy and tactics is the business capability domain.

This enables Strategic planning to be a critical toolset in DPMM.


Strategy-driven…Everything

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.” — Mike Tyson

Strategy Def. /ˈstradəjē/ (noun) a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim

Strategy is the art and science of planning and marshalling resources for their most efficient and effective use. A Strategic Plan is a method chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.

Strategy in design and architecture is often dismissed as too restrictive or difficult.

Strategy can and should be simple. It makes sense to describe what the intended outcome is before we set off a journey.

A major benefit of this is having a written plan that it can be communicated and shared. Even better, I use a set of simple but effective visual explanations.

Having elements of the plan be flexible however is crucial.

In battle, conditions on the ground can and will change. Having a plan that can be adjusted quickly is much better than starting over again.

That’s why it’s important to translate written plans into a set of interlinked visual maps, models, and sequences: It makes it a lot easier to “see” a proposed change or adaptation and understand its implications.

I use the term “Strategy-Driven” in main areas I work in. This includes Infrastructure Design, Software Development, and Enterprise Architecture. I find that several tools from strategy planning are useful and have incorporated them into DPMM. I define elements of Strategy and Strategic Planning (SP) appropriate for as:

Strategy Map

Develop goals and/or desired outcomes for all stakeholders. Value chain components and values stream Strategic Objectives.

Strategic Value Chain

A high-level analysis of how the organization creates value for stakeholders as an overall end-to-end process.

Value Stream Activities

The specific set of activities an organization undertakes to create and capture value for and from the end consumer. Setting strategy is often made more complicated and difficult than it needs to be.

Stakeholder Value KPI’s

The strategy elements all have value generated / captured or benefits delivered linked to them for each stakeholder group. Stakeholders can be customers, investors, employees and organization itself.

Elements of strategy and execution include these as well as : Strategy / Tactics; Goal / Objective; Capability / Function; Value / Measure. Working together, a strategy driven pyramid looks like:

My work leverages best practices from multiple knowledge domains and applies them in a simple stable architectural structure.

The result is an architecture that is not too large, not too small, but just right-sized.


Right-sizing Architecture

“Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up. — The Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

“Whatever story you want to tell, tell it at the right size.” — Richard Linklater, American director

The Digital Product Model Masters for Teams, Tools, and Flows has four framework models. These models have been tested in numerous organizations and industries.

Versions specific to product management, agile software development & infrastructure operations, retail merchandising & marketing, and high-tech manufacturing have been developed.

I have culled and condensed useful vocabulary and techniques into four simplified models that are part of Digital Product Master Models.

#1 Define Business Capability

Capability model describes what an organization does to execute its business model or fulfill its mission

#2 Define Process Flows

Defines workflows of business activities with roles, actions, decisions, resources, process outcome and metrics

#3 Define Team Competency

Establishes knowledge, skill and performance behavior maturity levels for team members to competently perform their position role responsibilities

#4 Define Technical Architecture

Specifies technology stack put into practical use to solve problems or deploy tools to improve efficiency and scalability of processes and people


Welcome to the Master Class

I am preparing a Master Class of five to seven one hour classes to dive into each of the topics deeper.

The purpose is to enable your staff to gain experience in SP, BA and EA principles. But to do so for problems where they are most effective and in lightweight techniques.

The next article will be about WHY it is important to elevate technology from a support function to a critical part of strategy. Here’s a hint — It’s About Customers.

Good artists copy, great artists steal and right-sized architecture ensures that the upsetting change is balanced just right