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Architectural Thinking Framework

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The Architectural Thinking Framework® has the goal to ensure that all the solutions of an organization fit together in order to balance its dimensions

– Outward facing: Customer value-focused, including specific Viewpoints (Capability Vision, Project–including Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution–and Deployment); 
– Inward-facing: HR, Finance, Accounting, including specific Viewpoints (Strategy, Governance, Operations, Data and Information, Infrastructure, and Solution application development); 

– Addresses enterprise life cycle phases (i.e., Establishment, Operations, Mergers, Dissolution); and 
– Sustainable.

in a way that maximizes the overall value from an enterprise-wide viewpoint in the short, medium and the long terms.

The Architectural Thinking Framework®

  • Follows three (3) values
  • Consists of four (4) parts 
  • Applicable on three (3) levels of architecture abstraction: (i) Executive, (ii) Segment and (iii) Solution; and 
  • Qualifies as an architectural framework by complying with IEEE 42010 (i.e., defined views–each within a viewpoint addressing a set of stakeholder concerns–each with a delineated set of ontological types of Things and tuples between those things).  

Architectural Thinking is a discipline.  Here it is a content-oriented framework defining artifacts and their relations established by Viewpoints.  The Architectural Thinking Framework® enables consistent, connected, company-wide structures that ensure traceability from business vision to technology implementation. It is lean enough for Agile but works as well with classical project management methods.

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  1. Auf dieser Seite ist der Satz "Navigable picture is here" oberhalb des Bildes. Auf der Seite Overview ist dieser Satz darunter. Sollte vielleicht einheitlich sein.

    Ist es gewünscht, dass in der linken Navigation "Seiten" und "Seitenhierarchie" zu lesen ist?

    Navigation im Picture funktioniert am Computer (IE 11)

    Schaut üebrsichtlicher aus als am Handy

  2. I’d suggest to to distinguish business function from capability.
    Business function is the label given to an asset, capability define the qualitative and quantitative attributes of that asset.
    E.g. Automotive—Business function “Production”—quantitative: how many cars I’m able to produce in one day
    Qualitative: different kind of cars with (station wagon, spider, crossover and so on).

    The Business function is a fixed asset, capabilities can change in terms of quantitity and quality.
    I’d put emphasis on capabilities because, in the general blue print of the Organization, the issue to distinguish business functions and (related) capabilities is not important.
    But when it comes to evaluate Portfolio, it’s very important to distinguish.

  3. Alessandro Merlotti : Thx for your comment, 

    >>'But when it comes to evaluate Portfolio, it’s very important to distinguish.' I do not really understand what you mean by that.

  4. I would move "Architectural Thinking is not a process or discipline." to the end of the paragraph where it appears, not the beginning.  

  5. I am aligned with the motivation of this framework. In fact, I have a similar architecture model as this framework. Where mine differ with ATF is that I break down the Solution further to Application Functions or I would loosely call it architecture building block (ABB). The ABB should be linked to the value streams to provide validation that the ABB are required and necessary. This allows further deliberation at the function level on the qualitative measure of the function eg. how mature is this function, such that it is able to serve the strategic visions or the business capability. Hope this helps

  6. I am not sure what capability means here, although someone already pointed out the confusion with function.

    Capabilities are a recent advancement in business thinking.  Prior to World War II there was no concept of capabilities. Everything was explainable through the Coasian model that brought together the resource-based theory of the firm with the marketplace to buy and sell products as the most efficient model.  At the beginning of WWII this had failed to produce a production model that could meet the needs of selling tanks, ships, airplanes, and bullets to the allies, and fight a war where coordination in production was needed. Roosevelt created a commission (leading to a Nobel Prize in Economics for its leader) to solve this problem.  They created a model where academic institutions, the government, and firms, needed to coordinate their production in complimentary ways.  G.B. Richardson in 1976 referred to these mini-markets that existed outside of the Coasian view, as business capabilities. Nelson and Winter would later extend this as part of their view of the evolutionary firm.  Teece, Pisano, and Shuen (1997) changed the name to dynamic capabilities after the confusion caused by Prahalad and Hamel (1990) with their theory of core competencies and Nelson and Winter (1985) extending the definition of capabilities to internal quasi-markets. 

    It turned into a mess academically with many trying to further disassociate capabilities from competencies and others falling behind the dynamic capabilities camp.

    In business, though, it is useful. I first came across capabilities in 2003 when I was part of one of the largest banks.  We competed based on capabilities. In this case it turned out to be teller services. There is no such thing as a teller function within a bank.  There are accounting, cash disbursement, and more than a dozen functions that go into teller operations, but once these are taken away there is nothing left but a bunch of real estate and people who do things for banking clients. To figure this out the large banks created a quasi-market for teller services that was based on their contrasting abilities.  We were a large retail bank, which in it domicile country, had long lines.  We developed systems that were optimized to be faster than the other banks.  Another bank decided that teller services included personal banking.  Everyone in a branch could provide the customer a 360 degree view of their accounts and a range of services.  Yet another used a brokerage model for their teller services. They had waiting seats, magazines and TV's with tickers.  They also had coffee and cookies for customers to reflect deeper.  This is a capability.  These could also lead to complimentary activities as well. Microsoft created a software ecosystem of competing companies leading to a public that saw these competing companies as complimentary.  AWS has this approach well.  This ecosystem represents a capability for software development.  George Best (2018) discussed how this model was used in the growth of technology in the Boston area, which led to a dynamic change. 

  7. Anonymous


    do you suggest a tool for modeling and as repository for modeling informations?

    Thanks and kind regards,

    Corrado Tamietti

  8. Yes, a pragmatic tool can help, I was most successful whenever I used a Wiki - a tool commonly used by business people. We must enable them to model the artifacts they own!

  9. Anonymous

    Wolfgang, first of all thank you for your response about the use of a WIKI as a tool. If you have some more time, I would like to add something. A wiki would be for sure useful to manage your document-like deliverable and non structured infos, ad so you gave a good suggestion. I just have a doubt related to the case you have a lot of architectural information; in this case you usually need to query the 'data store' to find useful informations, for example how many products impacted on the update of a related product or using a specific technology you have to change. Normally this kind of informations are useful anytime I need to do some governance and take some decision. Since in models we have semi-structured data, a tool could offer the opportunity to extract knowledge, and this is not easy especially when we have  a lot of data in it. The kind of tools I have in mind are Enterprise Architecture tools or advanced design/modeling tools. Did you have some experience with them? I guess one of the topic for you would be the customization of the metamodel ..

    Thanks and kind regards,

    Corrado Tamietti

  10. Hi, I like this, although the element of value (value created by doing architecture, use cases/outcomes or value streams) might be a good addition.  What do you think?  Also do you think it would be valuable to include the concept of an internal or external customer?  There are triggers for needing to 'do' architecture, it might be helpful to include these, the inputs and the outputs as the executive view - they aren't always interested in how it gets done, just that they get the outcomes or value.  I'd love to see what others think on this though.  I like the idea of putting out a quiz within the network to identify what common blockers or problems people are experiencing to use patterns within the results as design criteria.  It would be awesome to do this with architecture practitioners, designers and leaders, to get a rounded view of perspectives from both people doing the work but also the consumers of the value.  It is a compelling proposition when you are presenting this to new audiences if you have based it on evidence from different sets of stakeholders and couple this with failed transformations or companies going out of business.  It sells itself after that evidence-based framing.

  11. Hi,

    The thing I like best about ATF is that it integrates Design Thinking, behaviours and the 'softer' capabilities that are missing in other frameworks.

    However, this is not coming across in the opening paragraph about the goal of ATF, which is focussed on the 'solution' rather than the 'value' (echoing Heidi's feedback above).

    Put simply, like every other Architecture framework, the style and felt experience of this opening section is not engaging (ouch, radical candour!).

    The section underneath the i.e. the ATF structure is already well covered by others feedback.

    Here are my suggestion to reframe the goal to reflect the VALUE proposition of this framework to meet the customer NEEDS, use INFLUENCING language and a repeatable PATTERN to structure the content (why, what, how). Call out why it's different to other frameworks. This intro pattern could be adopted across each chapter to remain laser-focussed on value & customer needs.

    E.g. the goal of the ATF is to guide the design of solutions that deliver business value using contemporary Architecture patterns including behaviours and innovative enterprise design methods.

    Unlike other frameworks, ATF embraces Design Thinking and the 'soft skills' or behaviours that are critical to the success of today's Enterprise Design and Architecture teams.

    We have condensed the essence of great design, modern techniques and behaviours into a series of Architecture patterns to increase your influence as a successful designer & Architect."


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