What‘chu Talkin’ ‘Bout, Business?

Displayed on the Presenters main page

’ve been around a few organisations now where I still see Enterprise Architecture being nothing more than a thing that IT people do. There is a terrible lack of trust between the Business and IT organisation, and we still haven’t gotten any closer to having significant and productive discussions about things that matter to getting business done.

In my mind, having a discussion with the business is to talk about something that is meaningful and works towards a shared outcome – fruitful talks that realise good business outcomes.  A conversation – well anyone can have them and it’s a great place to share ones thoughts and ideas and have arguments about what’s right and what’s wrong and be self-righteous about their point of view – but it doesn’t really take anyone anywhere does it?

Well, let me tell you my secret.  The Business Capability Model is the single most powerful tool any organisation can have to actually bridge the great divide between Business and IT.  The investment in time and effort to create this model is invaluable.  Firstly, because it speaks the language of business using (wait for it) their terms!  It’s independent of organisation structure and will live through many organisation changes to become the tool that, in fact, will guide the change.  The Business will come to love it and want to use it all the time as THEIR tool (hic…even though it was you who created it) to explain to people about what they do, where they want to be and where they are hurting.

In the past many IT people have thought they exist because they’ve got the technology covered and the Business have got no idea how sophisticated or challenging the IT environment really is – but boy, how times have changed! The Business have learned how to access super high speed internet, network and automate their homes, connect a myriad of devices and access any cloud based service they might happen to stumble upon. Meanwhile, back in the organisation, the Business can’t understand why it takes so long for IT to get their mobile phone talking to Outlook.  I often cringe when I hear IT proposing an IT solution to the Business without even stopping to understand what the REAL problem is.  Back and forth, back and forth and the Business is still not happy with the service they are getting.  Lots of conversation happening here people….no discussions! This leads to lots of frustration that is now seeing IT going to the Cloud and outsourced way for reasons justified by ‘cost-reductions’.

Planning, by both Business and IT, is still done separately, with IT expected to do the ‘magic’ and deliver the right IT at the right time and place. So we perpetuate the silos and the great divide and have conversations around ‘this is what I want, so tell me know much and how fast?’ or ‘I’ve downloaded this great app and want everyone to use it’…I’m sure you have heard lots of stories like these before.   So how do we fix this?  How do we turn dysfunctional conversations into meaningful discussions?

Quite often we see the divide between Business and IT because neither have the tools like a Capability Model to move into the discussion mode.  Every time there is a meeting or a workshop the Business says a lot of words and IT reciprocates also with a lot of words. The Business complains that IT only talks in jargon (Mind you, I have certainly heard a lot of Business people speak in jargon that understandably baffles IT).  But I have seen that when I whip out a Business Capability Model and show it to the Business and IT teams, the postures in the room change.  The conversation now turns to, ‘hang on, that’s not how we describe it – use these words instead’, ‘…these are my challenges right now, I don’t have the information to do this here….’  The IT person can now respond, ‘Let’s have a look at what systems you currently have in this space’, ‘ Tell me what your challenges are’, ‘Let’s look at options to fix this’.  Voila – Now we have a shared outcome!  That’s what a discussion is!!

So when you reflect on what’s really holding you back from having a valuable discussion with the Business, and what it takes to become a a trusted advisor – check if you have a Business Capability Model in your tool kit.  Just a warning – your block diagram is not a Business Capability Model!  Don’t know where to start – not a worry – ring me! or you can contact one of my enterprise services colleagues here – contact us