Architecture, Agile and Innovation
petereeles 120000BW4X Visits (2028)
I was recently invited to an industry-academia discussion on innovation at the School of Management, at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK - with a focus on innovation within the Banking Sector (with representatives from several banks in attendance). Many different perspectives were shared and it was a very enjoyable and informative meeting. I decided to pull something together on "Building a Platform for Innovation" (which can be downloaded from here). The gist of my thinking is that an IT organization's ability to innovate is constrained by the "platform" that it has at its disposal, and that this platform has two key enablers - architecture and agile. Without these, we end up with symptoms such as those below, taken from the excellent "Enterprise Architecture as Strategy":
So where do architecture and agile fit in, specifically? I came up with the following visualization, which seemed appropriate. I deliberately avoided the word "agile" since it has so many connotations, deliberately using "agility" instead. Architecture and "agility" are both key enablers of change and, therefore, of innovation. Architecture represents the "what" in terms of the things we create and change, and agility represents the "how" in terms of the approach we take to making any change.
One thing you may have noticed is that I haven't said what this "metamodel" is applied to. And that's the point - since it can be applied at an enterprise level and at an IT level. Furthermore, when applied in both of these contexts, then we can infer additional relationships - as shown below:
Spelling these relationships out:
But this isn't where I wanted to end the story - especially as someone that makes their living from IT! Instead, I finished with the figure below, which is very much viewing IT as an enabler, ultimately of enterprise innovation. I've been using this visualization a lot with "business" folks of late, and it goes down pretty well. It's especially useful for those whose see IT as a cost center, rather than the value center it can really be when the "platform for innovation" (n terms of embedded architecture and agile practices) is in place.