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From the Editor: Book Review – Strategy to Reality

By September 15, 2022Articles

Title: Strategy to Reality – Making the impossible possible for business architects, change makers and strategy execution leaders
Author: Whynde Kuehn
Released: September 2022

Summary

When starting my journey into Enterprise Architecture (EA), I asked many practitioners what books I should be reading to become more familiar with the discipline. Without fail, everyone suggested I read EA as Strategy, by Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill and David Robertson. Released in 2006, it had become what some called “the secret sauce” for EA’s to understand and execute Enterprise Architecture effectively.

In reading this new book, Strategy to Reality by Whynde Kuehn, I was immediately struck by the feeling that I was reading what is destined to become another foundational text for practitioners, this time in the discipline of Business Architecture (BA). What’s more, the clear, easy to understand descriptions of how Business Architecture works, why it’s a great idea for your organisation, and how you can adopt it for yourself, makes this book ideal for not just BA professionals, but everyone from Project Managers to CEO’s.

The book also acts as a handy reference guide for practitioners to come back to time and time again, as they navigate the often-difficult path of helping their organisations survive and thrive in an increasingly challenging global business environment. Assisting them in this work is a great set of online resources that accompany the book, allowing for an acceleration of the creation of key artefacts, and facilitating the important communication process with business stakeholders.

Key Points

Pragmatism and collaboration

What became apparent very early in this book, is its focus on being highly pragmatic. Not only from the concept of “just enough, just in time”, but also in terms of its recognition that the Business Architecture does not have all the answers. It is one of a number of disciplines that must collaborate to bring about effective change. Strategy to Reality defines what Business Architecture is, and what it is not. It clearly delineates the distinctions between disciplines to create a practical guide for the use of BA when forming and executing on business strategy. It does so to ensure that effective cooperation between disciplines is maximised.

As an example of the highly collaborative approach being suggested by the author, here are just some of the areas of the business and complementary disciplines that are discussed:

  • Innovation
  • Customer Experience Design
  • Design Thinking
  • Organization Design
  • Enterprise and IT Architecture
  • Process Management and Lean Six Sigma
  • Project and Portfolio Management
  • Business Analysis
  • Change Management
  • Agile and SAFe

“Business architecture is a practical way to accelerate and enhance the out­comes within and across agile teams and tie their results back to the bigger picture.”

Strategy to Reality, p173

A step-by-step guide

To further demonstrate the pragmatism of this book, it clearly spells out a step-by-step guide to success, explaining the fundamentals such as Capabilities and Value Streams, and their relationships. It talks about how to fit in with a Product mindset, if that is how your organisation operates, and how to start small and have impact, in order to get the support needed to grow. Strategy to Reality provides practical examples of how to build heatmaps, perform impact assessments, develop usage scenarios and identify quick wins.

It goes on to talk about important activities such as maturity assessments, and reinforces techniques to establish business ownership of the activities and artefacts related to Business Architecture.

A great example of the usefulness of the material in this book is the “Golden Thread”, detailing how to transition from strategy to success.

We are aspiring for business architecture to become fully embedded into the fabric of an organization, where it becomes just how the organization works—no longer a separate concept requiring special attention.

Strategy to Reality, p40

Effectiveness of the Business Architecture function

Strategy to Reality provides comprehensive advice of how to establish and mature a Business Architecture function and team. It covers crucial topics such as where the function fits within the organisation, what type of structure might be used (e.g., Centralised, Hybrid or Decentralised), and how that might evolve over time.

The book also defines some of the core principles that you might adopt to ensure clarity in what is trying to be achieved (and how), and goes on to advise on the establishment of critical success factors for the BA function.

“It is a true exercise in making black and white out of gray to create the path to action. Business archi­tects are naturally adept at helping to bridge this gap.”

Strategy to Reality, p92

Finding and developing Business Architects

Essential to the effective execution of a Business Architecture practice is its people. Strategy to Reality defines the knowledge, experience, abilities (competencies) and characteristics of a good Business Architect, and describes some of the varied paths they may take in developing these attributes. It goes on to discuss the importance of a competency model that can be used to help your Business Architects grow throughout their careers.

“While business architecture may be the thing we are creating and using, it is the people who make a business architecture practice.”

Strategy to Reality, p178

The future of Business Architecture

Casting an eye to the future, author Whynde Kuehn discusses where the Business Architecture discipline may be heading, helping to guide practitioners on the planning of their careers. Whynde goes on to make some predictions of how things may evolve, including the increased adoption of Business Architecture within organisations, more involvement in the strategy execution life cycle, and the possibility of the BA’s responsibilities moving from maintaining the BA knowledgebase, to architecting the business.

“Business architects are valuable thinking partners, interpreters, and guides for the design and evolution of an organization’s business model and operating model.”

Strategy to Reality, p127

Conclusion

It would be difficult to find a more comprehensive and thorough treatment of Business Architecture, and none that I have encountered that does so in such an easy-to-understand manner. When coupled with the practical and pragmatic nature of the material, it truly does read as the ultimate guide for not only building and running a Business Architecture practice, but also for enabling effective change in organisations.


About the Author

From LinkedIn:

Whynde Kuehn is a recognized global thought leader, long-time practitioner and educator in digital transformation, strategy execution and business architecture, a foundational discipline for enabling end-to-end strategy execution and organizational agility. Whynde helps individuals and organizations master the art and science of business architecture to translate big ideas into action. She has a strong track record of building successful strategic business architecture teams around the world. Whynde speaks, writes and chairs events globally, with a mission to advance best practices and facilitate community. She is the author of StraightTalk, a professional business architecture blog winning worldwide acclaim as well as the book Strategy to Reality, to be released in September 2022. Whynde is the creator of Biz Arch Mastery, a dedicated online platform and community that helps simplify business architecture and facilitate its practical usage through extensive resources and hands-on programs.

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