Responsive Business Architecture

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Responsive web design is fast becoming a mantra in the digital media design.  The idea is to create compelling experiences that adeptly respond to how a person interacts with digital media. It doesn’t matter what device I use to browse an electronic commerce website; the form and content should make it easy for me to find what I’m looking for.  And maybe buy more of their products, more often.

I make the same case for responsive business architecture. As a decision-maker, I need all the tools, techniques, and information I can get to make the most-informed decisions on a daily basis.  Decision making is both an art and science.  I can turn to a business architect and listen to the options available to me. And I can ask my lawyer, accountant, fellow Board members, or any subject matter expert for their opinions.  In the end, I synthesize data and information to come up with the best possible decision at that time.

Responsive business architecture has the following characteristics. First, it senses what’s happening around the organization, both internal and external. Second, the organization responds by using proven methods and approaches. Third and most importantly, the business architecture learns from the experience of sensing and responding.

The business architect then is akin to a web producer who orchestrates the tasks to create compelling experiences.  And this entails specific skills and temperaments such as those related to facilitation, negotiation, empathy, and leadership.

How then do you develop a responsive business architecture? First, create a business capability model of your organization. This serves as your foundation. Second, map this model to other business models in your organization.  These may include your Balanced Scorecard, strategy, organizational chart, information technology architecture, and so on. Third, establish a regular cadence of updating your models and maps.  This may be weekly, monthly, or quarterly. What’s important is that these stay fresh with new data. This allows decision-makers to trust the validity of your analyses.

What risks do we face if we don’t create a responsive business architecture? First, you may build the most impressive business architecture models or team but, unfortunately no one will use these. Second, if the data is stale, then the analysis will be stale. The operations team, for example makes timely decisions with as much information as possible.  But this information should be reliable and accurate.  Otherwise, there will be drastic consequences downstream. Third, some of us only get one chance to do it right the first time. If we don’t impress our bosses, then it may be an uphill battle to get our requests approved during budget season.

The reason some websites are more impressive than others is because of responsive web design. I find myself coming back more often to electronic commerce sites that make it easier for me to do business with them. The same thing should be true of any business architecture practice. The more responsive it is to internal and external factors, the higher the quality of insights it can produce for decision-makers. That simply is the main reason why they keep coming back for more.

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