Business games 3 of 4: Demonstrating Enterprise Architecture in a game

Guido Cohlst
Posted by Guido Cohlst on Nov 21, 2012

Enterprise Architecture, Business Process Management

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In today’s fast-moving world, it is essential for organizations to be able to react quickly upon developments in their environment, such as shifting client needs, increased competition or legislative changes. So, organizations find themselves constantly migrating from one state to another, which has great impact on almost every aspect of the organization, from its corporate strategy to its technical infrastructure. The impact of the required changes need to be determined to assess all possibilities and dependencies, which is used to create the most efficient and effective approach to the planned migration.

Figure 1: EA: Insight in dependencies of all aspects in an organization

A lack of insight in the current and future state of the organization in all its aspects (Figure 1: EA: Insight in dependencies of all aspects in an organization) will make it difficult to get a good grip on complex changes in the organization. Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a powerful tool for acquiring this kind of insight and managing complex changes. However, implementing EA in an organization raises additional challenges and questions, like:

“What is the added value of EA for our organization?”
“How should we implement EA in our existing governmental processes?”
“How can we make all colleagues involved aware of (the added value of) the organization’s EA function?”

These questions are fairly common in our area of expertise but nevertheless hard to answer without becoming too theoretical. Like all things in life, one only becomes fully aware of the true value of EA after gaining firsthand experience with the matter. However, it’s hard to gain this kind of experience within an organization as long as the full potential of EA isn’t unlocked (because the stakeholders have not yet seen the added value of EA). A catch-22 situation. In order to gain firsthand experiences on the usefulness of EA, one should participate in a situation outside of the organizational environment. A business simulation game does exactly this: putting participants in a controlled environment that bears enough similarities with their own working environment for them to relate to their own organization. By using several simulation rounds (see the game cycle in (link blog 1), participants can experience the outcome of their actions made in previous rounds.

Because EA spans almost all of the organization’s aspects, a lot of different stakeholders are involved. The success of an organization’s EA function is mostly determined by the degree to which its stakeholders are convinced of its added value. A realistic simulation should thus incorporate as many working disciplines and organizational aspects as possible. Most existing EA simulation games are either too superficial or to discrete in terms of outcome, which makes it hard for participants to relate to their own organization and issues.

That is the reason why we decided to develop an EA simulation game that incorporates recognizable situations and issues and as many organizational aspects as possible, while still being able to control the game in order to touch specific subjects. The primary goal of our simulation game is to make its primary stakeholders (business managers, architects, IT specialists, project managers, and so on) aware of EA’s added value. Additionally, it should relate to important subjects like: the architect’s role and function, the embedding of the EA method in the organization and (very important) the participant’s own experience. Our simulation game is able to meet these expectations and is versatile enough to be played in almost every organization, with many different (theoretical or practical) approaches and content.

During our simulation game, participants will experience that it is extremely hard to make changes in an operational environment with many constraints and that it is even harder to ensure that these changes are consistent with the organization’s strategic course and the developments within other parts of the organization. Luckily, there’s EA to deal with these problems!

How do you think about the use of a simulation game to demonstrate the added value of EA? What would be your requirements for such a game? Feel free to discuss!

If you are curious as to whether our EA simulation game – Framing the Future – might be useful for your organization or you just want to subscribe to one of our free demo events, feel free to contact the BiZZdesign Academy at

In the next blog we will round up this short series on business games with a short overview of our best practices of our own business games: Ease-IT and Framing the Future. If you would like to know more, please leave a comment.

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