How was Training?

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“I am full of theory.” - Senior consultant, AutoCont, Czech Republic, Mar 2011

Recommend PEAF?

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“Yes - Having got TOGAF certification, PEAF relates to aspects within the content much better. TOGAF seem disjointed by many authors. Looking forward to learning more about PEAF” - Architect, Personal, UK, Jan 2015







Models

At a fundamental level, a model is merely a collection of structured information with zero or more relationships that represent something of interest. These days models and modelling are used almost everywhere. Financial models, Stock Trading models, Buildings, Cars, Spaceships, Oilrigs, Weather, etc, etc, etc, although for some reason, many Enterprises cannot understand how useful it is for Transformation.

There are two main reasons why models are used:

¨      You cannot build (or change) anything that is complex by wading in with a screwdriver - you need to understand what you are trying to build or change first.

¨      It is easier, cheaper and faster to build a model of something and then to find out it is wrong in some way, than to build the thing the model represents and then discover the problems.

What we seem to have forgotten is that Models have been used for many many years to help with Architecture and Engineering alike. Long before any computers, when technology consisted of paper, pencils, a drawing board and a chair, there was a department in many Enterprises called the Drawing Office and the people that worked there were called draughtsman. The only reason I have a very vague recollection of this is because my father worked in the Drawing Office at Rolls-Royce in the 1960’s working on the design of the Olympus 593 Engine that powered Concorde. This department existed to produce and manage drawings - models. It was an extremely important and a strict change management process was in place to make sure that as the drawings were used to engineer and manufacture the engines, that any problems encountered or opportunities that were missed that meant the drawings needed to be changed, were fed back to the Drawing Office and appropriate updates were made.

This cost a lot of time and money. So why did they do it? The reasons are utterly evident and need no explanation. What does need explanation is why we are finding it so hard in the 21st century to explain to management that modelling is of crucial importance?

Imagine how Rolls-Royce would have fared if every time a change to an engine was required that the person responsible for that change had to first spend a whole lot of time wandering round the factory trying to find a drawing of the part of the engine he was going to be working on. Maybe he found one, maybe he didn’t. If he found one he had no way of knowing how old or up to date the drawing was so would wander around trying to find people who knew something about it, who maybe had conflicting opinions. Then, after cobbling together a vaguely correct (who knows!) diagram of the domain of interest (that his project manager would constantly moan about him wasting his time on because that task was not on his project plan) and performing his work, the diagrams (models) of what the engine looked like before and after his changes were then left gathering dust on a shelf while he moved on to other things. Maybe the next person would find them, probably not.

This is, of course utterly ridiculous, but this is exactly what goes on in 95% of all Enterprises every single day with the resultant loss in quality of work performed, not to mention the billions of wasted money, but even more importantly the waste of time. Money maybe important, but if you lose it you can always get more of it. Once time is gone, it’s gone forever.

Your Enterprise doesn’t have a Drawing Office - but it is of crucial significance.

In the past models were drawn by hand on paper, but in today’s world computers are used to streamline that process. And once a model is in a computer there are many operations and analyses that can be performed which streamlines that process even further. What-If analyses can be performed almost instantaneously to explore different scenarios and to aid selection of a final “solution”.

But Enterprises seem to have forgotten the fundamentals - Fundamentals that POET is trying to highlight. IT is massively important of course, but people can fall into the trap that thinking that IT can solve all problems, forgetting that IT is only a tool and as important as a tool is, it’s not a case of how big your tool is, but how you use it ;-)

Meta-Models

The word meta just means “information about” so a meta-model is information about a model. It really is that simple. You can also use the word meta in conjunction with just about anything so long as there is some benefit/reason for doing so. The word meta also can be used repeatedly for example meta-meta-model which is information about the information about a model.

 

Semantics

As well as giving us the structure of the information that we can model a meta-model also defines the semantics or language used. This is massively important as language is the second biggest enemy of Enterprise Transformation (after Cultural problems).

A lot of the words used in Transformation are very ill defined - from individual to individual, group to group and framework to framework. Using the same word doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing and using different words doesn’t necessarily mean different things. A lot of the time, people think they are speaking the same language (because they are both speaking English for example) when in fact they are not. In this environment it is easy to have a disagreement without either party being aware of it. That creates hidden problems which are the worst kind of problems. It is also easy to have disagreement when in fact both parties agree - Have you ever heard anyone say “I think we are in violent agreement”?

Defining the meanings of the words that are used in a model is key to allowing people from multiple backgrounds and domains to be able to communicate effectively. This is one thing that a framework brings. A common set of terms, definitions and explanations of a discipline.

Semantics/Language is defined in two ways:

¨      Words - A dictionary or glossary, specifying definitions and the meanings of words and phrases and (more importantly) the relationships between them.

¨      Symbols - The Notation used on diagrams, specifying definitions and usages of shapes, lines, colours and embellishments.

These Words and Symbols form the language of Enterprise Transformation. Different people, or roles, tend to speak these different languages and dialects.

Recognising that these languages and dialects do exist is an important part of the glue between each level and in getting the whole of the Transformation stack to work holistically together.

 

Does executive management understand the benefits of modelling?

Does your Enterprise use modelling where appropriate?

If not, what areas could benefit more?

What is preventing your Enterprise using modelling more?

If you haven’t modelled something, how can you see it?

If you can’t see it, how can you understand it?

If you don’t understand it, how can you change it?

What things exist in your Enterprise to define a common set of words?

What things exist in your Enterprise to define a common set of symbols?

Does your Enterprise have a Drawing Office? Should it?

 

 

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