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Driving Innovation through Enterprise Architecture

by Bunny Tharpe       • June 2, 2015

As organizations embark on transformation journeys and seek closer alignment of IT capabilities and business goals, most will need to become more agile in the face of a fast-changing environment. Enterprise Architecture must step up to deliver innovation through new solutions that bridge the gap from where the organization is today and where it must be tomorrow in order to remain competitive and thrive.

On this journey, Enterprise Architects face both challenges and opportunities that they shouldn’t attempt to solve in isolation. As Brian Burke stated at the Gartner EA Summit 2015 in London:

“…companies can no longer rely on a small group of big brains to do all the thinking.”

Instead, EAs should look to orchestrate ideation as part of their Enterprise Architecture efforts (Click to Tweet!). That means engaging different stakeholder communities inside the organization to capture brand new ideas, and then leveraging that input to develop innovative solutions and solve their most complex challenges.

The ability to engage the right audience and focus on answering the right questions are critical steps on the path to successfully innovating. Those EA teams with a defined and repeatable process for Innovation, that can engage the relevant stakeholder groups and focus efforts on specific goals, will achieve the best outcomes that translate into increased business performance.

Establishing Innovation Capabilities in Enterprise Architecture

Here’s our list of capabilities you need when establishing an innovation process…

Start with a Goal

By defining the desired end-result for the problem or opportunity, you ensure that all efforts aim to meet the the goal.

Build Communities of Stakeholders

By building different communities of stakeholders across the organization you can engage the right target audience for the given problem. Communities can comprise a select group of individuals, or the entire organization.

Use Idea Campaigns

Create Idea Campaign for each problem or opportunity and advertise it to the community. You can then capture news ideas for each separate question or component problem of the bigger opportunity.

Make Idea Capture Easy

It’s important to have a simple and accessible method for capturing ideas. Ideally, you should have an idea capture form that is specific to each Campaign and that only the selected Community has access to it.

Encourage Collaboration and Feedback

Allow group collaboration, feedback and scoring of ideas. The Community is often best placed to identify the most promising ideas to develop into new innovations. Feedback is also important for maximizing employee engagement in your innovation process.

Use Gamification to Maximize Engagement

Simple gamification techniques such as leaderboards and rewards make a major difference to the level of engagement in your innovation campaigns. Its a proven technique that helps motivate individuals and the crowd to contribute ideas.

Impact Analysis

You must be able to analyze the likely impact of implementing new innovations on organization. Through this you, can understand the true value, cost, risk and alignment of each new idea with the business and IT strategy.

Adopting an Innovation Culture in Enterprise Architecture

For some architects, this requires a sort of culture transformation. Many architects are focused on describing the current-state and future-state architecture and then setting out on a journey. Whilst there is good value in this, its safe to say they are missing major opportunities by not engaging the crowd to uncover new ideas and innovative solutions.

Recognizing that the digital business is in a permanent transition, EA teams are well positioned right now to drive the innovation process and capture the combined creativity of all stakeholders.

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