Unit Oriented Architecture

Invention vs. Innovation vs. Renovation

Invention is the process of creating a new meaning. Applied to an organization, this could be designing a new product, a new service, a new self-service interface, or a new process (e.g., the invention of the assembly line by Henry Ford).

Innovation is the process of creating new value using breakthrough knowledge created as a result of invention. Frequently, disruptive innovation radically changes not only an organization's core competencies and capabilities, but also its core identity. In Only the Paranoid Survive, then-CEO of Intel Andrew Grove recalls a dramatic moment that happened when Intel was about to transform itself from a semiconductor memory company into a semiconductor chip making company:

I remember a time in the middle of 1985, after this aimless wandering had been going on for almost a year. I was in my office with Intel's chairman and CEO, Gordon Moore, and we were discussing our quandary. Our mood was downbeat. I looked out the window at the Ferris wheel of the Great America amusement park revolving in the distance, then I turned back to Gordon and I asked, "If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?" Gordon answered without hesitation, "He would get us out of memories." I stared at him, numb, then said, "Why shouldn't you and I walk out the door, come back and do it ourselves?"

The only book on business renovation, Renovate Before You Innovate, written by Sergio Zyman with Armin A. Brott, argues that:

True renovation is making changes to something that already exists, leaving the essence intact but giving it new vigor and perhaps a new life. It's also a lot more than that. Renovation is also rethinking your value proposition — figuring out what brought you here and where consumers will allow you to go. It's reconsidering trends in the marketplace and giving your consumers and customers more reasons to buy your brand. It's analyzing your resources and skills and leveraging them to make a bigger impact. It's like remodeling your kitchen: The basics — counters, dishwasher, refrigerator, wet bar — will still be there, but they'll be upgraded. You're doing better things with existing assets...

In a digital enterprise, business processes, facades and interfaces, products, by-products, and services consist of modular digital elements. The visibility of those elements puts them under constant pressure for improvement and enables accelerated renovation cycles.

Key Points

UOA creates digital constructs that provide interactional and operational support to organizational units. An organizational unit is a social system, which represents a social technology phenomenon programmed to some purpose(s).

UOA views the organization as an implementation of the Composite design pattern with every node treated either as a Composite (control unit) or a Leaf (functional unit).

Unit software must be as comfortable to an organizational unit as a house is to a family, a space station to an astronaut crew, or a battle tank to a fighting crew.

Each unit must have a formal [software] boundary, which represents a contract between the unit and other entities inside and outside of the organization.

Each unit runs its own operations implemented as executable business processes. Every process in the organization is owned by exactly one unit. A unit might engage another unit or organization to perform a task within the context of the process it owns.

UOA places a special emphasis on control units, which today often consist of just one or a few people, have inadequate information support, and, therefore, have become the weakest links in modern organizations.

UOA uses Systems Thinking for defining the problem, Organization Design for configuring both an enterprise and a composite unit, SOA for constructing unit boundaries, EDA for inter-unit communication, BPM for defining unit operations, and Business Rules for governance.

Further Insights