More on ‘Not-quite VPEC-T’
[Updated to incorporate changes suggested by Nigel Green in the first comment in the comments-section below.]
As described in my post ‘Not quite VPEC-T‘ back in November, the ‘service-flow content’ part of my Enterprise Canvas model-type draws heavily on VPEC-T and its underlying principles. There’s one explicit difference, in that I re-framed Nigel’s ‘Content’ dimension as ‘Completions’ – the reasoning there being that from the perspective of Enterprise Canvas, everything in a flow is ‘content’, but we also need an explicit ‘end-event’ to mark the end of the Process (production) phase. Yet beyond that visible change there are also more subtle differences in approach and usage, and it was those that Nigel wanted to clarify.
(I’ll have to paraphrase somewhat here, and ask Nigel to clarify in comments if I have anything fundamentally wrong. 🙂 )
To Nigel, the five dimensions of VPEC-T – Values, Policies, Events, Content, Trust – are lenses that can and should be used to explore anything in a business-change context. In that sense, my ‘completions’ in Enterprise Canvas service-flow content are just another kind of Event. These views are recursive, pervasive – there is no particular sequence or structure other than that all five lenses should be used in the review.
To me, a set of five not-quite-equivalent dimensions represent transitions between the Five Element phases:
By definition, in Enterprise Canvas, everything is or contains or represents ‘content’, so there is no need for a distinct ‘content’ dimension as such. (In Enterprise Canvas, we typically use the single-row version of the ‘extended-Zachman‘ as a checklist to assess content.) Instead, within the cycle of activities, there’s a need for something to mark the end of the main transaction-part of the activity – the equivalent of ‘end-event’ in BPMN, for example – and the transition to the post-action review (the Performance phase). Unlike VPEC-T, there is an explicit structure and sequence here:
- The outcome of ruminating on strategic Purpose is a set of Values, representing something that will engage People in that purpose.
- The outcome of the People phase is a set of actionable Policies to guide Preparation for action.
- The outcome of Preparation is readiness for action-Events.
- The activities of the Process are brought to an end by (preferably)-explicit Completions.
- The outcome of the Performance review should be re-affirmed Trust and confirmed alignment with Purpose.
So the two approaches are not the same: they’re similar, with similar overall emphases, but they do have different functions in the assessment of the given context. Yet they’re certainly not incompatible: in fact in a sense they’re almost recursive with each other, in that we would typically use VPEC-T to assess every flow, every phase within the cycle, and the context and content of each of those transitions. We do need to take some care, though, to be clear as to which frame we’re using at any given time.
- VPEC-T is a frame – a set of ‘lenses’ – to guide assessment of a context, in much the same way as SWOT or PESTLE or the like. This assessment is usually recursive and re-entrant: assessment in one dimension often implies further assessment in other dimensions. It does not imply any kind of sequence or cycle: Values, Policies, Event, Content, Trust are dimensions, not phases or transitions. For more details, see the book Lost In Translation – particularly Ch.3, ‘VPEC-T In Detail: A Common Language Explained’.
- Enterprise Canvas is a model-type whose purpose is to assess the purpose, content, structure, activities, management and guidance of a single enterprise-service – whatever that might be – at any level, from an individual web-service or suchlike up to the entire organisation as ‘service’. Within the Enterprise Canvas, the Five Elements frame and its associated transitions provide a further means to assess the life-cycle both of the service and through the service, also recursively, including its interactions and flows with and between other services. For more details, see the book Mapping the Enterprise – particularly the chapters ‘Service content’ and ‘Services as systems’. (The post ‘Not quite VPEC-T’ referenced above includes most of the relevant extracts from the book.)
- As described above, the description of the transitions between Five Element phases was strongly influenced by the thinking behind VPEC-T. In essence, the labelling of the transitions represents a particular emphasis that we would use in each case whilst – for example – applying a (recommended) VPEC-T assessment to the nature of that transition. (To put it the other way round, when doing a VPEC-T assessment of that part of the life-cycle, we would place particular emphasis on that VPEC-T dimension, including the Content within that transition.)
- There is an orthogonal relationship between VPEC-T and the Five Element transitions: as with all the many other frames that we might use in enterprise-architecture or the like, they are alternative views or frames to look at or through each other, recursively, whilst assessing the overall ‘hologram‘ of a context. Because the two frames are orthogonal to each other, the transitions themselves are not VPEC-T as such, nor do they represent an alternate or substitute description for VPEC-T.
Hope this helps, anyway – and thanks again to Nigel for his advice and guidance on this.