Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Coach and communicate according to maturity

A challenging task, for a consultant or knowledge worker, is to quickly convey opportunities and difficulties to different stakeholders and clearly show a way forward. One approach is to try to "coach and communicate according to maturity", as stated in the former post "Practical Enterprise Architecture".

Maturity models can be used as efficient communication tools. They have served me well in complex and challenging areas such as Enterprise Architecture, Master Data Management, SOA, Data Quality etc. The benefits of well thought through maturity models are e.g.:

  • Rapidly position where you are today
  • Express pros and cons of the current situation
  • Roughly position where you want to go
  • Clarify the appropriate steps forward
  • Show progress on your journey

The above list represents the possible outcomes of a well defined maturity model. But, too often, the available ones do not fit your purpose. When it comes to creating your own, the following simple guidelines may assist:

  • Build it around something tangible: I often start from a landscape view or architectural pattern that people can recognize and comprehend.
  • Start as simple as possible: Do not try to map too many levels of maturity and dimensions. Four to five levels are common practice. Five to seven dimensions should be enough to present the key topics within an area.
  • Build it iteratively: Release a first version that can be used as a marketing tool for your area during short meetings. Follow up with a more detailed version that can be used for workshop discussions. The maturity model can also be turned into a diagnostic tool if it is complemented with even more detailed questions and measures.

The maturity model will be of extra value if it is related to other areas. Master Data Management, for example, should be an integral part of a company's application and information landscape. Therefore it is a good thing to show how the Master Data Maturity Model fit with e.g. process and service orientation initiatives.

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