“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking that created them”- Albert Einstein.

With the convergence and connectedness of technology (nexus of forces) and rapid changes in business, the corporate digital assets and related revenues are growing faster than physical assets and related revenues! In one estimate, we will see 50 Billions connected devices by 2020. Associated analytics, algorithms and insights will redefine businesses.  Almost all the industries are being disrupted with faster and better service expectations on-line and on-demand.  For your customers, competitor is only a ‘click’ away. As Enterprise Architects, we need to keep pace with these hyper-changes. Developing an agile mindset in architecting, designing and delivering capabilities, becomes critical. So what is Agile Mindset and how do we develop them? Here are 8 steps to agile way of thinking and doing.

  1. Start with a concept and high level Architecture.

Enterprise Architects need to know high level Business Concepts, Strategies and Markets. This helps EAs in engaging Strategic Business Unit (SBU) heads in understanding customers, competitors and business dynamics. They can quickly capture the essence of changes in a high level architecture.  Scenario planning, design thinking, brainstorming and mind mapping are some of the formal techniques that can be used here to develop and document an approach. Informal techniques using socializing and human intelligence can be powerful too!

  1. Business and IT must collaborate and decide.

Enterprise Architects can act as a bridge in bringing business and IT together to collaborate, co-design and co-create.  Business models are altered and coagulated with technology.  So business and IT must jointly decide in bringing an optimum set of technologies to enable a new way of doing business.

  1. Budget is limited, so do the best you can.

Given the rapid pace of change and risks, CFOs and boards are not inclined to approve large budgets to drive mega projects over long periods of time. It is time to think in terms of limited budgets, stretched to maximise project or business outcomes. With agile methods and thrifty allocations delivering incremental capabilities (ROI) becomes paramount.

  1. Work in small self-directed teams.

Change from large hierarchy-driven groups to small empowered teams that have full ownership from vision to delivery. The culture is entrepreneurial, so getting things done with agile technique such as design thinking, is critical. Enterprise Architects can also provide the leadership in rapidly moving the team from vision to architecture to capability-roadmap to solutions.

  1. Work in sprints to deliver quick, visible results.

Part of the small team, entrepreneurial approach is being quick on your feet.  The team could prototype and produce solutions for testing in rapid succession. In this co-designing, co-creation and co-ownership, active customer involvement becomes the new norm.

  1. Fail fast, learn and adjust.

If innovation is to be central to this agile culture, it must tolerate failure. In fact, the team must try new ways, without fear, fail fast and recover fast with lessons learnt to redo things better. In an entrepreneurial sense, it is rewarding, as virtuous cycle runs from ideas to products to failures, leading to better ideas, thus spiraling rapid transformation.

  1. Refine as you go.

Customer experience (CX) is central to this journey of agile architecture and design. As it changes in the digital world we must also refine the services and their manifestations. Continuous improvement with regular updates and upgrades to refine the products, services and experiences are key to Agile way of delivering things.

  1. Teaming with trust and triumph

Agility is a mindset, a culture that depends on people working together in small teams in a focussed, outcome- oriented approach, in a trusted environment. Agile architecture and design is difficult, mainly because most of us are not used to the level of rapid collaboration, flexibility and change. We see that as chaos and tend to cast doubts or blame others. Agile mindset is about creating trust and teaming to succeed. Think of yourself as a member of a soccer team, in the arena, in play, passing and moving together to score the goal. Deliver the result and celebrate with the team and supporters! Finally, Agile mindset does not mean lack of planning. We still need a strong vision, foresight, leadership with strategy and a plan that binds and motivates the team on a journey, except that the whole team is running together, in a bond of trust, with a short sprint to success. At EA Principals Inc., our Enterprise Architects use Agile ways to develop and deliver Training, Certification and Consulting to customers across many industries globally. 

 

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