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‘It is a trivial (yet surprisingly often disregarded) fact that the buy-in of co-workers
can be neither taken for granted nor enforced by orders;
it has to be earned by involving these people
in the decision-making process’ 

[Bente13].


Defining the structures needed for the digital governance is one thing. As mentioned above you need a precisely defined decision process that is based on clear decision rights on the basis of strategic fields of action. Companies are used to make decisions from the top down, but often people at more operative levels are closer to the realities of products and customers, hence having valuable insights that can not be ignored.

So, the second, and even more difficult thing is the process that defines how to elaborate SFAs using the wisdom of the many business experts of the operative levels.

[Bente13] is right when he states: ‘We find that the traits of sophocracy are still carved into IT architecture as a discipline: Here’s the brain with the blueprint, the architect; and there are the hands implementing the plan accordingly’. However, this mindset does not work in the VUCA world anymore. Yes, SFAs are finally written centralized by the architecture owners in a simple form, but how are they elicited out of hundreds of business stakeholders in a highly dynamic, ever changing business environment?

A promising answer is given by the proponents of the Agile idea. Why not extend the successes of agility in software engineering to a company wide scope and use it for incremental elaboration of SFAs? Why not value empowerment and adaptation over command and control?

In our approach to digital governance we make use of both: clear decisions by executives AND participation of the many.

The figure below shows how SFAs are elicited by the many and decided by executives in this approach:


Our approach focuses on an iterative refinement process that starts with early ideas of the business. Autonomous teams that consist of business people, business analysts, technology experts and capability architects work closely together with innovation-, business analysis and architecture methods to leverage vague ideas to elaborated concepts. These teams are cross-functional and include all necessary viewpoints: business knowledge, methods how to structure business knowledge, technology expertise, and architectural thinking.


The autonomous teams are inspired by the vision of their executives, they ideate in the direction of the common aim. They are guided by the principles and rules that are needed to architect sound solutions that maximize benefits from a company-wide viewpoint. The Architecture Owner Capability works as an equal member in the autonomous team and has to ensure that the solutions fit into the big picture of the business- and technology architecture. It is his responsibility to draw all the architectural maps and write all the SFAs of his capabilities. To ensure consistency of SFAs and architectural elements across autonomous teams he usually works in more than one autonomous team within his capability.

Finally, the Architecture Owner Enterprise aggregates the SFAs that are related to business capabilities to around ten SFAs on the enterprise level.

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