CONOPS

Enterprise Architecture is about how an organization is aligned to its Mission and Vision. A Vision is a high-level sketch while the Architecture is more detailed. One way to conceptualize the architecture and express it through a Vision is to use Business Capabilities.

A Capability is a stable, strategic concept to achieve a desired effect. It is used for Strategic Planning to implement a Strategy. Also it’s useful for briefing leadership, including such concepts as a capability gap and a capability increment. It provides a clear strategic thinking framework without the clutter of the details.

A Vision of the Operations, or the Concept of Operations (CONOPS), expressed via Business Capabilities, allows to quickly grasp what the organization is trying to do, and how it intends to do it. It shows external stakeholders, a supply chain, and internals in terms of capabilities.

Here is an example of the major elements of the CONOPS diagram. It contains the boundary of the enterprise, external stakeholders, and internal capabilities.

Now we can get people on the same page. If we stick to the same common language of capabilities, we can talk about capability gaps, and capability-based planning, and capability increments. We can change processes, applications, technologies while keeping the same capability concepts. Also, we can add or remove capabilities. It’s a simple, high-level, strategic LEGO game.

A CONOPS graphics helps to visualize the architecture of the complex organization, and connect different parts in a meaningful manner. That image-making creates a shared understanding of what is, and what is to be. It creates consistency over time and survives the chaos of the projects.

Now, for each capability or a set of the related capabilities, we can apply a concept of the segment architecture. Each segment is responsible for specific capabilities. A Segment contains program offices and shows a different perspective of the org chart. This way a conversation can continue on the implementation side, and give a proper understanding and a meaning to project managers and contractors on what exactly they are doing.

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