Enterprise Business Motivation Model

One of the ArchiMate crew, Remco Blom, pointed me to Nick Malik’s article on the Microsoft MSDN site describing and launching his ‘Enterprise Business Motivation Model’.

A quick summary: it’s an interesting attempt to unify various other business-motivation models, but with some gaping holes that will cripple it in practice, and a really nasty little ‘gotcha’ hidden away in its ‘purports to be open source but isn’t’ licensing.

Slightly less quick summary: Malik has attempted to link together three different motivation models – the OMG / Business Rules Group’s Business Motivation Model, the ‘business architecture’ parts of the TOGAF 9 Content Metamodel, and the work of someone I’d not heard of before, a certain Dr. Osterwalder – and meld them into a unified model and metamodel of business motivation, linked back to enterprise architecture.

The good part is that “for the first time”, as he puts it, the model includes the concept of ‘business model’ – the operating-model against which value-achieved should be measured. That’s definitely useful, especially as it’s then linked into a solid and consistent underlying metamodel.

But in terms of improvement on what’s gone on before, that’s the end of the good part. The bad part is, well, just about everything else ‘new’, really. A bit unkind to say that, I know, but… ouch…

As far as enterprise architecture is concerned, he falls over at the first hurdle: literally so, because in the very first words of the ‘Introduction’ he asserts, “Enterprise Architecture is an area of IT” – which it isn’t. (If anything, IT is a minor subset of enterprise architecture – the other way round entirely.) Not helpful – and every subsequent EA-related remark goes further and further downhill from there, as he remains trapped in the IT-centric box whilst trying to describe a world far outside of those narrow confines. Which kind of invalidates it as having much use for enterprise architecture. Oh well.

The main structural flaws, though, are a bit more subtle, because they concern what isn’t in the model.

One is that he assumes that the only possible business value is finance, which makes the model usable only for a mainstream profit-only business – which shuts out government, not-for-profit, cooperatives and a whole swathe of other more sophisticated business-models. (Just how many decades is it since Balanced Scorecard was first published? – because that’s how long it is since profit-only models were formally demonstrated to be incomplete even for for-profit businesses…)

Another is that, like the OMG/BRG Business Motivation Model, it’s organisation-centric: it barely acknowledges a world outside of the organisation, hence has no real grasp of the enterprise in which the organisation exists. He acknowledges just three kinds of external ‘Influencers’:

  • Business Trend
  • Competition
  • Regulation

The second of those would (nominally, at least) be irrelevant to a government or non-profit, and in any case one of the skills of enterprise design and motivation is to identify a niche where there is no ‘competition’ – a concept which is seemingly outside the ken of this almost archaic view of ‘business’. And other than possibly by burying them rather inadequately within ‘Business Trend’, there’s nowhere to include a wide range of other key influencers such as social context, reputation, geography or environment. (Amusingly, his one example of an ‘Influencer’ is a story about kids selling lemonade because the weather was warm – namely environment as Influencer, for which there’s no means to describe within the model.) Other than one almost throwaway reference to ‘Alliances’ in the ‘Business Model’ section of the model, there’s no way to describe shared values and commitments in a value-web such as a consortium or supply-chain. There’s also no real concept of values, or of aspirational-layer assets such as brands or morale – which are fairly fatal omissions in themselves in terms of modelling motivation within and with an organisation.

Overall, the model is probably an improvement on the TOGAF model (though that’s not hard, frankly) and on the Business Motivation Model (though he retains the latter’s fatal flaw in its definition and use of ‘Vision’), and hence could probably be useful as-is for business-architecture (especially for the IT-centric bad-joke that TOGAF calls ‘business architecture’). But as it stands, it is unusable for anything than a very narrow class of for-profit organisations; and it gives no indication at all of the broader enterprise, whilst purporting to describe all Influencers and the like – and hence would be dangerously incomplete as a tool for true enterprise architecture.

So yes, it’s a good try, but it doesn’t actually take us much further along the road than the (inadequate) tools we already have. A pity, really.

In addition to the MSDN article, Malik has presented it on its own domain – www.motivationmodel.com – with a plain-vanilla WordPress blog behind it, at http://motivationmodel.com/wp/index.php/home/, describing the model in slightly more detail, and asking for comments to enhance it. It all looks very open-source, and no doubt that’s the impression it’s meant to give. So before you do join in, take note of the subtle sting in the tail tucked away in the ‘Licence to use the Model‘ page: it’s not open-source at all. From the wording, it seems fairly clear that in reality it’s entirely Microsoft owned, and any comments will become the intellectual property of the company. In other words, a neat way of getting the enterprise architecture community to work unpaid to correct Microsoft’s own fundamental failings in this field, which Microsoft can then legally sell on as their own exclusive proprietary model… A very neat scam…

Not impressed, frankly. It’s also the reason why I haven’t posted any comments to that site, and won’t. No matter how honourable Malik’s own intentions may have been – and I have no doubt they were – I definitely feel cheated and abused by this one. It’s been bad enough having the Open Group repeatedly ask me to pay them several thousand dollars a year for the ‘privilege’ of being allowed to correct the fundamental flaws in TOGAF; now here’s Microsoft playing what looks like an even dirtier game. I’ve been working flat-out on this for several years now, trying to find ways resolve the huge structural problems in most current attempts at ‘enterprise architecture’, without earning a damn cent from all that work; and now that it’s finally starting to get somewhere, the ‘big boys’ are all beginning to line up to claim that work as their own exclusive property. I know someone has to do the work of starting the wave, out there on the all too appropriately named ‘bleeding edge’ of development: but rather than yet again all but stealing from people like me in this so goddamn blatant way, I just wish that at least one of these damn groups and companies would actually have enough respect to pay for it, and enough foresight to recognise that without it they have no future.

The un-joys and dysfunctionalities of the ‘possession economy’ again, I guess. Hey ho…

2 Comments on “Enterprise Business Motivation Model

  1. Hello Tom,

    Wow. Not quite sure what to say. Your review was interesting, but not flattering, to say the least.

    First off, the fact that the EBMM is property of Microsoft is an indirect effect of the fact that I work at Microsoft. I am not part of a project or funded exercise, in any business division, to create a business motivation model. My site was not a “backhand” way for Microsoft to steal anything. My goal, publically stated, is to produce a model that can become an open standard.

    In pursuit of that goal, I have joined the Object Management Group and I am currently in the process of clearing hurdles within Microsoft to present and submit the EBMM for open standards consideration.

    In that vein, if there is a contribution that you would like to make to the model, to improve on some of the flaws that you pointed out, I am very happy to work with you, GIVE YOU CREDIT. I cannot pay you, because, honestly, I am not being paid either. Not for this work.

    As for the licensing page that you noted, the license is the same that is used on CodePlex. I will move the motivationmodel.com site to CodePlex as soon as I cross the internal obstacles to releasing the model in an Open Source manner. Note that no part of a product or service of Microsoft has ever been discussed, before release, on MSDN or CodePlex. I assure you that this is no attempt by Microsoft to steal any IP or use it without paying for it.

    That said, your post implies a certain lack of affinity for the “possession economy.” My paper was published completely outside the possession economy, in as open a way as I can, given the ownership of the model. My objective is to provide the leadership to raise the models, and knowledge, of the entire industry. At the end of the day, it will not be owned by Microsoft. It will be submitted to the OMG. Therefore, contributions to the model are contributions to all of EA, not to me personally or to Microsoft.

    I am sorry that you feel “cheated and abused.” That is as far from my intent as it could be. That said, the wordpress site will be taken down (it doesn’t work anyway), and the content will move to CodePlex as soon as I can get it there.

    While I cannot personally relieve you of your discomfort, I would like to work with you to improve the EBMM in its next version. Your experience and contribution would be invaluable to closing the gaps you describe and making the model more relevant for all enterprises.

    I do believe that the key innovation in the EBMM is the addition of the Business Model element in business motivation, something that is not in the source models (except the Osterwald model). I do define an enterprise in a different manner, as a collection of business models. I also define a company in another part of the model, leaving open the possibility that an enterprise is not the same as a company (a fact that I have observed many times, but which most metamodels have no way to reconcile).

    All of the other negatives that you point out are negatives that exist in the source models. I did not insert a great deal of original research in the EBMM for very important reasons: I cannot show a use case where those additions would be interesting, valuable, or correct.

    I would like to hear more about the “fatal flaw” in the definition of Vision from the OMG BMM that I incorporated. You did not provide context for that comment, but it is quite interesting and I’d like to know more.

    You also mention “social context, reputation, geography or environment” as influencers for business strategy. I find that fascinating. Note that geography is part of the Business Model area, not the influencer area. The other concepts are interesting, but I’d like to hear the traceability from those concepts to a strategic influencer or driver.

    Note that “Brand” would be a subtype of “Products and Services” in the Business Model portion of the EBMM. If you feel that “brand” is an important concept to capture in a model at this level, I’m happy to discuss it with you. There are many aspects of “product offering” that are important to the definition of a business but which may reasonably fall outside a “business motivation model” and I’m unconvinced that the notion of “brand” is important enough to jump to top level model from the underlying “products and services” level, independent of the considerations that provide context for the success of a brand.

    If you would be amenable to discussing your concerns in detail, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via my blog or the e-mail address provided in this comment. I look forward to any collaboration you would interested in providing.

    Sincerely and with respect,
    Nick Malik
    Enterprise Architect
    Microsoft IT Enterprise Architecture

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