If an innovation is proven to be valuable after the Experimentation Phase, the Business Owner, the Innovator and the CIB Ambassador team up to to scale the innovation and eventually embed the innovation into the existing organization. One of the key elements of embedding is to link the innovation directly into its technology architecture. This embedding, however, may well require changes to be made to the enterprise- and systems architectures to achieve the intended value. Such changes are not easy, as enterprise architectures are designed to resist change and enforce standardization, and rightfully so. Nevertheless, when an innovation is deemed valuable and of sufficient strategic importance, this should rectify changes to these foundations of the architectural structures.
For innovations to become the new norm, and thus for change to have taken place, the architecture of the organization should be adapted to the innovation’s requirement, not the other way around. All too often, innovations are adapted to fit the existing architectural requirements of the organization. In most cases, this means that some or much of the innovative capability may be lost to standardization to an ‘old’ guideline. However, this ‘old’ guideline serves an important purpose: it enables the standardization of technology with the aim to increase speed and efficiency in the IT landscape. So when implementing innovation requires a change to the technology architecture, it directly threatens these goals of corporate agility and efficiency. It is therefore imperative that the CIB Ambassador, as representative of the Continuous Innovation Board (and as such of the corporate interest) emphasizes the need for new standards and requirements when embedding the innovation and enforces their implementation. The CIB Ambassador together with the Business Owners (who is responsible to embed the innovation into the existing organization) also work together with those responsible for maintaining speed and efficiency through standardization.
To accommodate Continuous Innovation the organization needs to deploy Agile Architecture principles. Agile architecture is a Lean-Agile approach to address the complexity of continuously changing enterprise requirements. It supports the needs of current users while simultaneously evolving the system to meet near-term future needs.
Agile architecture balances intentional architecture and emergent design.
- Intentional architecture defines planned architectural strategies and initiatives. These enhance solution design, performance, and usability and provide guidance for implementation of sustaining improvements.
- Emergent design provides the technical basis for an incremental implementation approach. This helps developers and designers to immediately respond to the needs of innovators. This enables them to evolve their designs as the innovation is scaled and embedded.
To enable Agile architecture, enterprise architects need to become part of the Innovation Team(s) as early as the Scaling Up Phase. As part of the team they collaboratively define architectural enablers that support the innovation’s technical requirements and that build the architectural runway early on. Developers provide feedback on architectural decisions as they build features on top of it, balancing intentionality and emergence. Architects, in turn, should be supportive of change while safeguarding current performance and stability of the existing infrastructure.
- Scaledagileframework.com. (2019). Agile Architecture in SAFe – Scaled Agile Framework. [online] Available at: https://www.scaledagileframework.com/agile-architecture/ [Accessed 9 Feb. 2019].