Starting your Architecture Capability

When you decide, or are involved, in an evolution project regarding your Organization division, perhaps your Company is willing to transform it in an Enterprise Architecture Capability, in other words a set of resources dedicated to design and support change management using comprehensive frameworks, like TOGAF.

It’s a good moment to think carefully about your objectives, and you can use TOGAF itself as a supporting framework for this project (TOGAF manual describes this task in the “preliminary” phase).

The core of this activity will be synthesized by:

  • you “as-is” practice, that is your baseline Architecture Capability;
  • the desired target Architecture Capability.

The differences between those two situations will be described using a list of gaps, that will be the starting point for your project definition.

Using Archimate – the modeling language that integrates very well TOGAF in many parts – we can describe these elements.

Archimate diagram illustrating baseline and target architecture capabilities

Archimate diagram illustrating baseline and target architecture capabilities

The figure is only an overview, but the gaps highlighted will guide you through a series of questions that will define your evolution:

  • people and skills involved,
  • organizational position of the Architecture team,
  • usage of internal/external resources,
  • scope (horizontal and vertical) of the analysis,
  • interaction with IT, HR, Board, etc.,
  • tools, standards,
  • project management practice,
  • methodologies,

and so on.

This will be also a good opportunity to start practicing, in your “real” business, your new organizational structure. At the same time, during this project, you will produce – as a deliverable – an initial Enterprise Architecture, covering the basics layer of Business, Data, Application and Technology. This initial Architecture, stored in your Architecture Repository, will be used and refined in your following architectural projects.


Archimate for Organization chart | pros and cons

During the design of the Business Architecture, in TOGAF, we have to outline the structure of the organization, including the description of how human resources are assigned to roles, organizational units, locations.

The structural element representing the organizational unit in Archimate is the Business Actor. As the standard says, a Business Actor may be “a human, a department, or a business unit”.

This is the main building block of our organization structure design, and can be enough if you want to limit yourself to the traditional hierarchical organization chart. Following this approach, you will find perhaps a missing element: a taxonomy that helps you classify the different elements.

Simple Organization chart with Archimate
This simple vertical organization shows some of the problems and possible solutions:
  • the sales organization is a business unit, with a manager; we suppose that the manager will be a single person.
  • There are more Area Manager; the composition relation shows that the Sales Manager is their direct boss. Again, this “Actor” will perhaps be a single person, but there will be more people in this role, each of them assigned to a different geographical area.
  • Within each “Area”, there are separate managers for each “Product”. All the Product Managers of an Area will report to the Are Manager. The geographical dimension appear to be the prevalent one.
  • Perhaps there is also an orthogonal Product dimension; we can imagine that there is a global Product Manager, it’s not represented here, but is clearly possible.
  • There is a single back office unit, working for the whole sales organization.
Using this really limited set of elements from Archimate, we were indeed able to represent the basic hierarchical organization. Some of the relationships among business units, and the kind of each unit, are somehow ambiguous, requiring an explicative narrative. This is not good, because a modeling standard should be able to represent a situation without disambiguation.
Other modeling standards, such as BPMN, provide the designer with some attributes that are specific for extensions. Archimate includes a generic extension mechanism, trough “attributes” for specific elements, included in a “profile”, or using specialization of standard concepts.
We will see later how to accomplish this, adding some more elements to the model.

Conflicts value destruction

When a Company is relying too much on direct, vertical interaction, among functions or divisions, and the Head, conflicts multiplies.


Vertical interaction, according to Ackoff and Gharajedaghi, is typical of an uni-minded organization, where peripheral, or vertical, units, are supposed to execute the directions from the Head, with a limited amount of “local” flexibility.
In the real world, this often means that the Head loses touch with the reality of the field, as each vertical unit repprts a filtered view of the business status.
Furthermore,  competionion develops among internal lines, diverting the energy devoted to competing in the market, towards internal struggles.

In the traditional management wisdom, this is often positive, as increases strength of each vertical unit, creates a self-controlling mechanism, and promotes natural selection: weaks are eliminated.

In the wide and wild market of the globalized world this is no more true.

Internal competition destroys value, through two mechanisms:
– limited deployment of competency,
– entropy.
Internal competitors seeks the goal of damaging other internal competitors, creating the conditions that make their competitors’ performance worse.

A good top management should be aware of the increasing level of internal competition,  putting in place mechanisms that turns this energy in value for the Company.

The easiest way is to give rewards to “promoted results”: if your competitor/collegue reaches a result thanks to your support, you receive a bonus, and his bonus will be higher if he acknoweldge this.
Such an approach puahes teamworking, and lowers the collaboration barriers across certical organizational structures.

The result is an increase in competitive strength,  for the Company, in the marketplace.