Agile Framework – Be Unreasonably Aspirational

It would be simplistic but incorrect to say the Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) is not applied today in business.  I too, almost took that misstep.  The application of principles are selectively adopted, based on relevance applying to the use and application at hand.  Deming stated this well when he said, “The impression that “our problems are different” is a common disease that afflicts management the world over. They are different, to be sure, but the principles that will help to improve the quality of product and service are universal in nature (Deming, 2000, p. 130).”  Although architecture frameworks tilt in their prescription of processes, the underlying principles and framework objectives remain virtually constant.   Let’s polish up TOGAF, and illustrate together how this framework stacks up to frameworks more visibly being applied today and growing in adoption. By comparing TOGAF with the Scaled Agile Framework it will be evident that the principles in TOGAF have been significantly reused in the Scaled Agile Framework.  The frameworks interplay between team, program and portfolio is effectively illustrated in Figure 1.  If your teams are using agile design or development principles, this framework is relevant.   Scaled   The Scaled Agile Framework was not the first to solve architecture challenges.  As we compare outcomes between the TOGAF and Scaled Agile Framework we notice dramatic similarities:   TOGAFTable   Agile or iterative methodologies are gaining popularity. Why? Because they are delivering transformative business outcomes.  However, as we look deeper it’s obvious that it’s not all new. With quality improvements, the fad of the 1960’s, Kanban principles were applied in 1953 but not heavily written about until 1993.  Iterative and incremental development was a driver out of the 1960’s into the 1980’s.  But what actually fueled the iterative approaches was the quality improvement and TQM movement established 20 years earlier.  From this iterative concept grew the idea of Evolutionary Delivery (EVO) (Gilb, 1985).  While many will suggest Agile didn’t start until 2001.  It’s evident that scrum concepts start forming in 1986 (Takeuchi & Nonaka, 1986).    Quality requires iteration and flexibility.  Agile brings us one step close to quality delivery.  Fascinating as it may be to envision the Scaled Agile Framework as an innovative new concept of 2011, its roots go back much further.  Agility continues to be a leading ‘in demand’ skill not only for CIOs but also for software and product companies.  We don’t have to look far to find the 2015 Gartner Quadrant for Application Development Life Cycle Management, and notice that Atlassian (Jira suite) is in the upper right quartile.  This quartile highlights industry leaders in Figure 2.    Gartner2015   Inclusion is required.   Peter Weill in a winter 2005 edition of the MITSloan management review states that, “Throughout an organization individuals make decisions daily that influence” (Weill, Ross, 2005, p. 1).  Architecture solutions are readily at hand.  What is required is the right decision with the right values. In order to do that the right people need to be included.  Cross functional inclusion to grow and solidify solutions is mandatory.  This broad engagement is often difficult to secure without direct executive sponsorship.  Even with executive leadership’s nod, cross functional education and participation is a constant risk to successful outcomes of every architecture framework.   What is clear is that no single architecture framework is applied as-is without tailoring that process to fit the culture, people and technology that reside within each organization.  Who wants average? Whether you’re talking about a car, population health, or architecture frameworks – vanilla isn’t appealing and is even harder to sell.  It’s unlikely that after fully understanding your customers (end users, influencers), collaborators (suppliers, allies, leaders), capabilities (human, operational, financial, technical), competitors (direct, indirect, potential), and environmental conditions (social, demographic, political, regulatory, economic and market) that average will be path forward.   Use what works based on the unique requirements of your organization and throw away the rest.     References   Deming, W. E. (2000). Out of the Crisis. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Educational Services.   Freedom Benefits. (2015). Largest US Health Insurance Companies. Retrieved from http://www.freedombenefits.net/affordable-health-insurance-articles/Largest-125-US-Health-Insurance-Companies.html   Larman C. & Basili V. R. (2003). “Iterative and Incremental Development: A Brief History.” IEEE Computer Society 36(6): 47-56   Leffingwell, D. (2015). Dean Leffingwell on the Value of using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/qSYw1RrSDNY    Scaled Agile, Inc. (2015). Scaled Agile Framework. Retrieved from http://www.scaledagileframework.com/   Takeuchi, H., & Nonaka, I. (1986). The new new product development game. Harvard Business Review, (January)   Weill, Peter, & Ross, Jeanne. (2005). A Matrixed Approach to Designing IT Governance. MITSLOAN Management Review, 46(2), 1–11.   Wilson, N., Druggan, J., Murphy, T. E., Sobejana, M., & Herschmann, J. (2015). Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Development Life Cycle Management. Gartner Inc., 1–25.

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Peter is a technology executive with 19 years of experience, dedicated to driving innovation, digital transformation, leadership, and data in business. He helps organizations connect strategy to execution to maximize company performance. He has been recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice, driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to CIO.com on innovation. Peter has led businesses through complex changes, including the adoption of data-first approaches for portfolio management, lean six sigma for operational excellence, departmental transformations, process improvements, maximizing team performance, designing new IT operating models, digitizing platforms, leading large-scale mission-critical technology deployments, product management, agile methodologies, and building high-performance teams. As Chief Information Officer, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.