Architecture in the Boardroom

Architecture in the Boardroom

This article seeks to explore some of the challenges facing Directors and to explore how the development and maintenance of an architectural representation of a digital enterprise might contribute to better dealing with these challenges.

Issues facing enterprises
Different enterprises face different issues.  However, some issues faced in common by enterprises where systems and architectural thinking can offer value include:

  • The increasing amount of time which seems to be consumed in dealing with compliance, taking time and attention away from more strategic issues
  • The increasing degree of market disruption which requires more frequent attention to strategic directions and strategic capabilities, but also highlights capability gaps in effecting change in a timely and effective manner
  • The increasing need for holistic responses in government and across sectors (public, private, community) to local and global issues, requiring a capacity to integrate and collaborate with other enterprises
  • The inadequacies within enterprises in readily and rapidly assessing and mitigating enterprise and change maturity gaps as the enterprise seeks to execute business strategy and manage change risks
  • The low maturity within their enterprises in effectively integrating business and technology based change, and in addressing impacts of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity

Issues for Directors

These enterprise issues have implications for Directors’ responsibilities in the areas of:

  • Strategy
  • Risk
  • Monitoring


Change in the market / environment in which enterprises operate requires attention to business strategy.  The rate of change means that the traditional approaches of articulating visions and missions are no longer suitable.  The notion of a destination (vision) and a journey to this destination is no longer viable because the world has radically changed by the time the enterprise arrives.

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Market strategy is often better addressed through ongoing attention to the business model(s) which the enterprise pursues.  The discipline of attending to the business model keeps the enterprise focused on product / service offerings which offer a compelling value proposition to the target customers, and exploring the most effective channels for delivery of the products and services.

Attention to the business model also prompts enterprises to consider the manner in which technology may:

  • disrupt existing business models or open up new business models
  • allow disaggregation of the value chain for the product and services, focusing on those elements which exploit the capability strengths within the enterprise
  • enable provision of complementary digital products / services which enhance the value proposition for customers


There seem to be countless stories of failure in relation to:

  • business strategy execution
  • business transformation
  • project delivery (ie. the effecting of change)

Failure in business strategy execution can either mean deficiencies in business strategy development or strategy execution.  This may also indicate low maturity in the change management capabilities of many enterprises.  The increasing degree of change means that enterprises have no choice but to devote more resources to effecting change, yet the low maturity of change capabilities does not seem to feature in corporate risk registers.  This, perhaps, is a blind spot for many enterprises.


How often do Boards develop or approve business strategies, without establishing the means for assessing:

  • strategy execution performance
  • enterprise development and adaptation performance

Development of business strategies incorporating expression of the intended:

enables the identification of appropriate indicators for monitoring the degree to which:

  • intended outcomes are being realised
  • expected capability performance is being achieved
  • transformation risks are being managed

Architectural representations

Two of the most valuable architectural models:

Can be applied to undertaking enterprise transformation, whether a part of an organisation, an entire organisation, or across multiple organisations.  Each of these models are outlined in more detail in the associated link.

These tools bring a discipline to the transformation which reduces the risk of failure and enhances the likelihood of realising the desired outcomes.  These are exercised by an emerging cadre of enterprise change professionals with experience in architecting enterprises.

This is the first in a series of articles for Directors, Boards and governing bodies.

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