Troux Worldwide Conference 2013: Day 1

Unfortunately due to some travel issues I missed some of the morning sessions at the Troux Worldwide Conference and apparently I missed some absolutely spectacular presentations. They  included: “The New Normal” by Peter Hinssen and “The Journey to Business Value” by Bill Cason, but I did get there in time to catch some really good presentations. So I wanted to run you through some of the highlights of what I did get to see.  I got into the conference about noon, just in time to grab lunch.  It’s being held at the Four Seasons in downtown Austin which is just a spectacular venue and I can’t say enough about how nicely put together the event is. Added to that, the quality of the presentations alone really makes it well worth coming.

So the first presentation I was able to attend was “Enterprise Delivery of EA Services-Cargill’s Revised Approach” put forward by Michael Dockham, an enterprise architect at Cargill. On a side note, what’s amazing about some of these speakers is not just the success that they’re having leveraging Troux to achieve business goals and to help do enterprise portfolio management, but it’s in the scale of the organizations that they’re able to achieve this with such speed. Take Cargill for instance. If Cargill were a publicly traded company, it would be the 12TH largest company in the world. If you want to talk about complexity, they have 75 business units, they are in 65 countries, they’ll have been in business for 150 years in 2015, and they’ve got more than a 1000 locations.  As Dockham was running through some of these statistics and I was thinking about what it takes to get an organization that large to adopt and get value from something, it’s a truly daunting and difficult task.

It was interesting to hear him talk about their history with enterprise architecture which really got rolling in 1994. It gives you a sense of the degree of complexity and the level of effort required to be successful in a large organization, but it’s also mind blowing when he talks about their pace of progress. He talks about the last few years and the speed at which they were able to get to value and especially in the last year, as they went through the Troux implementation and what it meant for their organization. He went on about just how transformational this technology could be within their organization, how this massive increase in capability happened in just one year in an organization that’s been working at this EA since 1994.

I thought some of the really important insights that he had were around business value. They have a CIO that comes from the business side, who has been in charge of food services and just recently, one of the largest SAP implementations in the world. He talks about his keys to winning, being driven by business value, being trusted by the business, and being an organization of choice. This organization of choice idea was, to me, a really nice way to talk about providing enough value to your business side customers so that they want to come to you. That was one of the things that he kept coming back to in talking about the various portfolios.  They’ve got technology portfolios, application portfolios, business strategy portfolios, and their ability to link those things together and really provide the ability to make decisions faster and with a higher degree of confidence, which is clear business value.  He made it his business to have people coming to him to do that.  So with this in mind, he gave a to do list for EA leaders. One of the things it included was not discounting the effort it takes to populate the data, which I thought was a great point. It’s something that people spend so much time thinking about, their method, or their approach, and their technologies. He highlighted that a lot of the real effort is in stitching together the information you’re going to need to be able to make ongoing decisions. You need to focus on the results.

He also talked a lot about capturing data at the right level to answer stakeholder questions, which presumes you know what questions they’re going to ask. Another point he mentioned was having a communications pro to be able to communicate out the type of information that you have. There’s so much specialized language and methodology and approach in EA and they help you deal with the complexity of the business problem that you’re facing. All the value you can create for your organization is nothing if it is not understand by your business.

Another great talk I attended was given by Klaus Isenbecker who is an IT architect for Bayer, which was entitled “The Secret Ingredients of Success.” To build on what Dockham was saying about the importance of communication to the business side, he made a very similar point. He said that oftentimes EAs get very impressed with their own information and complexity of it and things then get lost in translation.  He mentions having this “Aha!” moment when he saw the light of EA and what it could do for the business. He then made the mistake classic of going and grabbing somebody on the business side, telling them his revelation, and then getting this blank look from them. He said it was a lesson learned because the person that he spoke to didn’t really care about all of that EA stuff, what he cared about was the answers that he needed to know and that was it. I thought it was a really great point. I think sometimes there’s a tendency to be overly impressed with your own cleverness, with how exciting it is to be able to connect all these dots, and I think for a great many people, especially in these great big organizations they don’t really care about all that. They care about if you can you answer their questions and that’s it.  Klaus’s talk was probably one of the least focused on Troux itself that I’ve seen at one of these conferences but it was incredibly valuable from[JC1]  the standpoint of providing insight into what are the soft side skills required to enable transformation.

The final presentation from day 1 that I want to highlight is, “See the forest from the trees!….Shifting IT’s focus toward Investment Planning,” by Julie Standley, who is the Director of IT Demand Management from American Electric Power. This was yet another absolutely insightful talk.  American Electric Power is an older company, 106 years old, 15 billion dollars in revenue, and 57 billion dollars in assets. There’s a lot of complexity brought on by the fact that it’s both in the regulated space and a competitive space. She talked about having to maintain two very separate sets of plans for people, processes, and technology within the organization to help manage the differences in those business models and what it means for managing those types of large IT portfolios that are required to run a very large power business in the US. She also discussed being a CIO in that organization in a circumstance where there’s one large pot of money and there’s a lot of masters out there that need to be served. So how do you manage all that priority and how do you do investment planning in that environment? You have to be able to work down the chain from strategy to the technologies enabling that strategy, and really using Troux, and management, and architecture, and investment portfolio planning as a way to bring the company silos of operations together. It’s really a unique vantage point for through which to view the organization because for most of the rest of the company, the view is very dependent on the particular silo in which they reside. So it was really very exciting to listen to her talk about how the organization was able to use Troux to bridge the gaps between those silos and facilitate information flow to help the entire organization perform better, but also to manage the type of compartmentalize complexity that is required by the regulatory environment that they exist in.

So all in all it was just an absolutely great day. I can’t say enough about how much you can learn in something like this because they’re all talking about, at least in cases of most of these presentations, trying to solve the same problems that other large organizations are solving. You can learn a lot because there’s no marketing to speak to these issues. These are your own peers, in their own words, describing how they’re solving their problems. I think it’s just if you happen to be in this business, that it’s something that’s worth coming to see. I’m not saying that you can’t learn a lot by talking to the people that sit within any sales organization or engineering organization that you might be dealing with, but Troux is a great example of having a lot of great practitioners who also happen to be great sales folks, great engineers, and all that sort of stuff and it’s always nice to hear it from customers mouths. That’s the big focus of this event, bringing together those people or at least that’s my take away from it, so hope you enjoyed and I’m off to enjoy another great day today. Hope to see some of you here in the future.


Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

MB&A: Changing the world

I’ve had a few different people ask me about the types of work we do at MB&A so I thought I would put together a few posts that highlight what we are working on as a company. Of course we do many of the things that I consider to be the bread and butter such as management consulting activities like providing advisory services, enterprise architecture, business process reengineering, and business intelligence & analysis. What I think people may find more interesting, and one of the reasons I’m excited to get to the office most days is the innovative projects we have been able to take on where we are deeply involved in creating something new for the customer. Whether it is something that is completely custom or a unique implementation or integration that meets specific client requirements, we have been able to solve some pretty complex problems for clients based on our ability to bring together the best parts of the engineering, software development and management consulting disciplines. In this post I’ll be focused on a few of our most recent projects and also provide some insight into how we leverage our strategic partners to bring unique benefit to the end customer. For today’s post I’ll focus on solutions we have developed in coordination with Troux,, and the SAAB Group.

SAAB Group – Mobile Situation Awareness for Enhanced Security (MSAFE)

MB&A has developed a mobile situational awareness capability that enables organizations to bring advanced command, control, and security capabilities with them into the field to events, as well as to buildings where advanced security capabilities are needed on short notice. At the core of this system is the open architecture SAFE (Situation Awareness for Enhanced Security) software. SAAB is a leader in the Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) space and its SAFE software is a flexible, scalable and robust Security Management system designed to provide enhanced situation awareness capabilities for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Response. Based on a Command & Control system and a highly advanced Integration Platform, SAFE provides advanced capabilities managing security and efficiency needs in daily operations.

MB&A has used this software as the brain behind its mobile units and combined it other hardware and software to develop a platform from which sensors, alarms, devices, access control, radar, CCTV, network devices, etc can be controlled from a single or multiple operator stations.

SAAB – Security Assessment and Management

Our app, Fedblueprint: Security Assessment and Management (SAM), was created specifically to meet the unique security needs facing our school systems today. Our app was developed for school physical security inspectors so they can conduct physical security assessments on measures such as effective use of architecture, landscaping, perimeter, parking, facility access control/interior, physical barriers, access control, and lighting to achieve improved security by deterring, disrupting, or mitigating potential threats. This assessment is built to meet federal requirements for facilities safety and the first version of Fedblueprint: SAM was used to assess 189 schools and reduced the total cost to perform security assessments by more than $25,000 on a per facility basis. This cost savings was possible because the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management did not require an investment into hardware, software and complex systems. They simply bought the assessment service the same way people use gmail, itunes, social media or iphone apps. This complex requirement can be met by SAM because, one of the world’s fastest growing fortune 500 companies, is also one of the most secure, built to handle federal security requirements.

The app facilitates the assessment of security requirements. The following briefly highlights SAM’s major capabilities:

  • Includes relevant data regarding physical security standards and governance.
  • Tailored to provide an easy to use interface that is comfortable to the user community.
  • Mobile ready
  • Includes an extensible library enabling the development of comprehensive information relevant to the security.
  • Fully developed manual which can be accessed via print or online and includes coverage of every question asked on the survey as well as all of the tool’s survey related features.
  • Standard set of dashboards and analysis that enables management to understand survey progress and to ensure compliance with requirements.
  • Core set of dashboards to facilitate understanding and analysis of the data that is being gathered.
  • Core set of reports to facilitate understanding and analysis of the data that is being gathered.

The cost is incredibly low for an application that can be accessed by you and your personnel securely on a mobile device or via a web browser. With more than 100 out of the box security questions covering everything from key personnel contacts to CCTV, SAM is able to help you immediately begin to better understand the physical security posture of your organization. Since it sits on top of the Salesforce platform you also get access to the power of’s inherent capabilities around document management, messaging, task management, and other capabilities that have made a staple of Fortune 500 companies like Dell, Wells Fargo, and Comcast as well as the number one CRM tool in the world.


FedBlueprint: Investment Portfolio Manager (IPM)

Our team developed a custom report and data collector on top of the Troux transformation platform to help federal customers ingest IT investment data and understand their portfolio in the context of risk, cost, and capability. One of the hardest things to do when thinking about developing analytic components is to develop the statement encapsulating the purpose of the analytic component. Our first analytic component for Federal investment portfolio managers (IPMs) is focused on helping guide the IPM’s eye to the investments that most require attention. One of the hardest things I find in developing high-level dashboards is to resist the temptation to overcomplicate or try to service a broader audience than is really intended. Our dashboard is intended for the person in charge of managing the entire IT investment portfolio.

As such, some detail that is available from more analyst-oriented dashboards is abstracted or otherwise wrapped into the presentation layer. The design tension here – between giving enough detail to support decision making and presenting a very complex information set in a manner that is accessible – was difficult. Throughout the development we focused on identifying measures and views that were very relevant to other stakeholders. In the case of this example, we are going to find a great deal of information and views that will resonate with individual investment managers, project portfolio managers, project managers, and analysts. Keeping laser-focused on the objective of our high-level stakeholder was critical to ensuring the eventual success of the dashboard. In fact, we ended up building many of the lower level analytics required by other stakeholders in order to understand the various components of the high level analytic well enough to understand the interplay and relationships of the various components.


This work was an outgrowth of the work we did to develop our whitepaper “From Compliance to Transformation,” where we looked at specific federal requirements including Shared First, Cloud First, PortfolioStat among others and attempted to pull together a comprehensive approach to managing these various mandates in a manner that fosters transformation and organizational improvement.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Webinar Recap: Here Comes the Next Big Thing: Adopting New Technologies is Inevitable, Doing So Successfully Isn’t

I’m so excited that my company’s Webinar Series is becoming more established. We received a lot of positive feedback on our last one.  Instructor Bob Daniel gave an extremely perceptive explanation of why “Adopting new technologies is inevitable. Doing so successfully isn’t”.  Every day new, “latest, greatest” technologies are announced and organizations, whether from within or without, are driven to adopt them. Unfortunately, the all-too-common experience is that the anticipated benefits never materialize. Typically, the focus is entirely on “successful” installation and vendor training. While important, these steps simply aren’t enough to assure you’ll get the return on investment you want (and need). Bob began his Webinar diving into these issues.

In this Webinar, Bob Daniel discusses the motivations driving the adoption of new technologies, the factors that disrupt adoption, and what you really need to do to be successful. Drawing from decades of experience in new technology adoption with both private and public sector clients, Bob will highlight real-world adoption pitfalls and provide practical means to avoid them, as well as to recover from them.  At the end of the hour, you’ll have a framework and set of tools you can use to build success into your technology adoption programs.  Check out the following clip to get an idea of the full range of advice covered in this Webinar.

If you missed Bob’s Webinar and would like access to the full video please e-mail me at Also, don’t miss out on our next Webinar where the Honorable Dale Meyerrose will give us insight into his problem solving techniques honed over years of experience in leadership, cyber security, information technology, intelligence and military matters. Click here to sign up!

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

‘Tis the Season to Thank Your Partners

partnersPrudent partnerships add significant value to your team and clients

 Last night was our annual holiday party and for the first time we expanded our party beyond our team. We didn’t bring in clients, but we brought in our close partners. Looking back now, I think this was long overdue because so much of our success has been directly attributable to our partners. Sure we have great people and I know that on our own we bring great value to our clients, but by having a rich partner ecosystem we are able to bring our clients unique value.   We are staffed to handle the majority of our clients needs and our staff reflects specific capabilities and expertise that drive results for those clients. For the rest of their needs we could either stretch our existing staff and hope we do a good enough job, tell the client to find someone else to handle this need, or like we have, find and partner with companies that make it their job to handle those specific niche areas. I know what I would prefer as a client and I know that my clients over the years have been extraordinarily happy with the results they’ve gotten from this type of arrangement. For us having close partners we can depend on, know, and trust, means seamless execution for the client and the ability to take on and execute on more comprehensive projects without having to move outside of our area of expertise. For our partners, this means having someone that they can count on to bring them in at the appropriate time to perform well and execute and finally, for the client they get a turn key solution that brings the highest level of expertise and execution to every aspect of their project.

 This is worthy of a post because I think that by leveraging a partner network to deliver for clients, you are essentially extending modular solution design back into sourcing and staffing. This isn’t anything new. In fact, if you look at supply chains for retailers and other global commerce, this concept is how we are able to deliver products that are designed, sourced, marketed, built, and delivered globally at what is an incredibly low cost if you look at the complexity of the delivery system. Individual components of this global supply chain have developed capability and executed in order to win their place in delivering end value that becomes the bikes and boxes under Christmas trees around this time of year. By delivering our management consulting and technology offerings in this manner we are simply leveraging that same concept of taking the best available partners in the market and developing unique value for the end client. I’m sure there are many cases where this means that we are leaving money on the table or not maximizing on the near term value we could gain for the client, but this approach ensures that we form and retain lasting relationships with our clients because they know that we are consistently finding the best possible solution for them.

In conclusion, I think the major take away from this should be to ensure that you are looking beyond the edges of your organization for value and opportunities to improve. So much of what organizations produce now is dependent on the value that others create, that it simply isn’t enough to find improvement opportunities within your own organization. If 70% of the value stream for your stakeholders is dependent on stakeholders that are external to your organization, you will never get maximum performance by simply focusing inward. We have always recognized that our partners bring value; but by bringing them in and thanking them at our Christmas party this year I think we took another step forward in driving client value.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Unlocking learning and innovation in your organization.

Today’s organizations exist in a rapidly changing environment where disruptive technologies, economic turmoil, and the winds of political change have put a premium on the organizations ability to rapidly react to a changing environment and meet evolving organizal challenges. This is leading to an even greater emphasis on the value organizations put on their human capital. Companies that can get a great idea from the person who spawned it to the market with little organizational friction are winning. So are companies that are able to be leaner and react to the market more rapidly, locally or more economically. Given this reality it is important that organizations take a proactive approach to the development of their human capital. I think there is wide acceptance now that one of the roles senior leader play is in mentoring there staffs and fostering a general understanding that a key component of leadership is increasing the performance of their personnel. This mandate should be broader than simply one on one time in the office. Real development requires a more comprehensive and holistic approach. This means looking both at programs that support professional development within a chosen career path but also more general tracks that may address productivity, communication, leadership, or other general skills that play a role in real performance. Even in organizations that place a high value on professional education many do not put enough value on these general skills. Investing in these general skills within your organization ensures that the professional training you invest in is leveraged to its maximum value. Also too often these general skills are assumed, but take a look around your working environment. Is a lack of organization a problem for someone you work with? Do you have people you wish had a few more “soft skills” to couple with there analytical skills. These are bottle necks that need to be overcome if the organization is to get all of the benefit it should from its people. In the end it requires a mix to drive results.

As organizations work to develop the right mix and maximize the value of their educational programs  it is important to think about how to drive results from their development programs. The question is how do you develop the right organizational approach to foster a culture of learning and innovation. I believe the first key step is to ensure that you are thinking about these two key concepts correctly. First with regard to learning, organizations should clearly identify the objectives. Learning in the organizational performance context should mean identifying problems, issues and obstacles and working to solve them  by developing a deeper understanding, finding solutions through individual research or identifying formal educational options that lead to solutions. Learning should also be tied to retaining the information that comes in via these mechanisms leveraging it to increase performance. Successful organizations should be fostering a learning culture where professional development occurs via employee to employee knowledge transfer, mentoring, and individual problem solving. Seen from the lens of the desired organizational outcome learning needs occur both broadly across the range of developmental areas that lead to increased performance and performed in a way that leads to retention, use and ultimately performance.

So why all the focus on learning? We opened with the idea that one of the critical advantages that modern organizations are looking to foster is a culture of innovation. I believe that developing the learning organization is a critical key to developing an environment that is conducive to innovation. I also believe that too often innovation gets reserved for executives trying to drive capital “I” type “Innovation.” In order to truly drive performance I think innovation comes needs to come in two flavors, big “I” innovation that is driven by ecexutives, subject matter experts, and other people whose general job description includes driving organizational perofrmance and transformation and little “i” innovation which is the daily things people at every rung of the organization do to perform a little better personally, or on a smaller scale. To really be effective organizations may need to make big “I” innovative changes but they also need to foster a culture where every tier of the organization little “i” innovates every day. Some great advances that have led to real bottom line performance have happened on assembly lines because people were paying attention, confronted with a problem and empowered to facilitate change. With a rise in the number of people who are considered knowledge workers, the increasing use of automation and economies of scale the rippling effect of little “i” innovation and empowerment can be enormous for an organization.

The problem for most organizations is threefold in achieving increased performance through their education and professional development programs:

First, many organizations that could benefit from an increased ability to facilitate change by empowering daily little “i” and big “I” innovation simply have not changed their culture to support either one. Innovative cultures are dependent on creating channels for communication, investing in professional development developing an ability to internalize change. I think the first two of these are fairly obvious but the last one may require a bit more explanation. Having the ability to adapt and transform means having an organizational commitment to internalizing and making common practice changes in the culture, direction or operational aspects of the organization. Implementing a best practice process is more often hamstrung by an inability on the part of an organization to implement a new process rather than an inability to learn about or understand that best practice. Essentially any education, training, mentoring or other learning capabilities your organizations gain are useless without developing the organizational  ability to internalize opportunities that flow from them and put them into action.

Second, education and professional development programs need to be well thought out and done in a manner that drives results. This seems obvious but think about your last training seminar or professional development class. Whether it was a four day bootcamp leading to a certification or a full blown university class – has it changed the way you work? If not is the reason because you didn’t get to apply it close enough to the educational opportunity to cement the new working pattern or understanding you gained into your execution? As leaders I think that you have to assume that if you want to gain the benefit of the professional development you are putting forward for your people you need to assume some lower level of performance not just during the time while the person is in training, but also when they return as they begin to exercise and build new skills and understanding into their routine. If you treat their professional development efforts like a vacation and let work stack up on their desk and then expect them to hustle through what they missed while they were gone you can almost guarantee that the new skills you sent them to get aren’t likely to get used very rapidly. Give people time to implement and internalize what they have learned. If you need to get to the results part of their training faster you may be better suited to follow the professional development activity with mentoring, workshops that place the learning into the context of your workplace environment or consulting services that enable you to bootstrap your way into the results you are looking to achieve by placing the expertise on staff as you ramp towards internalizing the educational benefits.

Finally, look at your unique requirements and build toward your specific outcomes. Establish curriculums that fit the generally required skills and abilities of the various roles in your organization and then adapt as needed to meet specific opportunities or to address specific deficiencies. Make sure that you talk to the people coming back from classes and other educational opportunities to make sure that not only did they get the certificate or attend the class, but that they felt they got value. Their is an enormous difference between even highly regimented certification oriented classes that are supposed to be tied to a very strict curriculum. If you find a great instructor make sure you request that instructor going forward. I’ve advocated a few times in this article to invest in professional development. Now I’m telling you to make sure you maximize those dollars. If you have a great experience make sure you get that person, organization or class again. Particularly if you are taking training that is intended to help you lead organizational change or transformation make sure that you aren’t just book smart. Follow training with a workshop where and an expert can help you use your new found skills and apply them to your organizational problems. This is one of the greatest ways to ensure that you get full value for your training dollars. There is nothing that will help you retain and internalize concepts like applying them to your problems. Also, consider mentoring as an option in this area. Too often we go to training and come back invigorated and ready to apply it to change the world. Unfortunately  once we get back to our desks we hit some small snag or bump up against a hurdle in our real word problem that wasn’t clearly illustrated in class. Having a mentor available that can help you apply the concept may be the key to getting you over the hurdle and unlocking the benefit you were hoping for when you left for class.

I think if you follow these steps you can begin to unlock the the incredible untapped potential that resides in so many organizations. The most successful organizations will find ways to get more from their human capital in order to become the more adaptable, foster innovation and maximize the ability to  get great ideas from whiteboard to implementation. I also cannot say enough about focusing on little “i” innovation. Getting people at every level of the organization to believe in and focus on making what they do a little bit more efficient or effective will change organizational performance. Senior leadership needs to identify the areas of focus for professional development, provide the opportunities to develop professionally  and finally create an environment where that development can lead to organizational change.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.