Blog post

Architexit: Purposely Failing in Order to Succeed

By Philip Allega | July 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

Planning to FailMergers Acquisitions and DivestituresIT Cost OptimizationEnterprise ArchitectureBrexitArchitexit

“You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette” was a saying I recall as a child. In my room I had a picture of Abraham Lincoln hanging up that listed all of his failures before he became the 16th President of the United States. Some things, and people, fail before they succeed in their goals. To “Architexit” one needs to wilfully plan the removal of business processes, applications, technologies, solutions, people skills, and more from the business and IT landscape before their introduction to the same.

Digital business and major disruptions such as Brexit have changed the approach to planning for success. Whereas once one might have been “Architecting for Indestructability,” the uncertainty that these two situations have created means that, if you’re going to engage in them, you have to plan to fail.

Planning to fail in order to succeed involves planning and management techniques such a high velocity decision making, quarantining, and intentional rip and replace (before implementation). The assumptions about permanence, known quantities, certain purpose and use? They don’t work in a world that’s changing rapidly.

A command centre mentality is important when planning to fail. Close monitoring of changes underway with a goal in mind can be seen in situations as critical as a “5-alarm fire” or as purposeful as the development of a vaccine for the Zika virus.

Unfortunately, both a belief that one must architect for indestructablity and a lack of urgency the face of major disruptions (e.g., digital business, Brexit) stand in the way of making the mental shift to plan for failure. It’s not that we don’t do so in our personal lives (e.g., retirement planning, the “holiday diet” or lack thereof), but it’s kind of hard if you work in an organization that has a “let’s wait and see” or “once a year planning” approach to change (See my blog about Brexit Planning during the Phoney War).

For enterprise architects, the skills around communicating risks and decision points for targeted business outcomes become even more important when engaged in planning for failure. Considerations around when to stop an investment or when to advance it along a path of integration towards a system of record require ever present monitoring.

So, why is this difficult? I’d like to posit that there’s a crisis of decision making. Is it you, or is it your organization? Planning to fail, and “Architexit-ing,” properly requires a shift from slow decision management around strategic decisions to one that is rapid and high-velocity. I’ll be sharing more about this concern, and this focus upon planning to fail to succeed, in the weeks and months ahead as I count down to Gartner’s Symposium season. I hope that you follow me as I share my thinking both here and at the world’s most important gathering of CIOs and senior IT executives.

Architexit My Breakfast: Planning the Exit of the Yolk to Make a Successful Omelette

Picture Source: Philip Allega, My Breakfast Eggs

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