Baseline as per the wikipedia is an agreed description of the attributes of a product, at a point in time, which serves as a basis for defining change.
Most of us can relate to that statement which means the product or solution has come to a certain maturity in abstraction of its features and now you can call that a baseline. Some companies work a great deal to arrive at a baseline which is what they have worked over months , years to finally arrive at one milestone in their journey and call it the baseline. Now the title is why do some companies decide to throw it away. We shall see how and why this happens ?
Togaf has a concept of going about iterations on how you can go from one state to another in your organization transformation journey. There is a baseline first and target first approach when you go about iterating across its phases for architecture development.
Baseline First : Firstly you go about considering the edifice for building future work is your current baseline and then it becomes the starting point for doing any work henceforth. What this means is that you as an organization has significant has accumulated a lot of collective knowledge and arrived at the baseline which is still relevant and useful in going about the organization churns.Lets say you are a n oil and gas major and all the data models,process workflows,architecture documents ( business,data,application and technology) are at a point where they need further pruning and tailoring to meet the new market realities. And hence any work that you do keeping this as the basis will end up being called as baseline first approach.
Target First Approach : With disruption in every industry at times your baseline becomes completing irrelevant and new forms of transacting , doing business gets precedence. Examples of this would be Banking industry being caught in the wallet war from google,apple etal and further danger from the block chain , bitcoin and newer forms of currency exchange without the middleman. When this is more true for your current state then the baseline or the accumulated knowledge in the organization is found to be not very useful to go ahead with the organization transitions.
In reality this is not very true as there could be pockets sometimes huge areas of the existing knowledge base that can be turned / fine tuned to better meet market or product relevancy in the market. In the case of bitcoin based transactions disrupting banking for example the banking fundamentals such as credit / debit still would remain the same. But again it is upto the organization to see what parts of the baseline is relevant in your journey and then use it to your advantage. This needs good brain storming withing the company weighing the pros and cons and then take it forward.
What’s true in practice
Reminded of a joke that was going on in a company .They estimated that they would need a 100 developers working on the baseline for about 1.5 years to overhaul the product and make it market ready then there was a side remark saying give us 30 developers “throw away your baseline and we’ll rewrite the product afresh in six months.
So the fact of the matter is throw parts of your baseline away where it makes sense keep the ones that aid your transformation. This needs sound existing knowledge of your baseline and also where you want to go. Many organization find this to the biggest challenge “Where are we going and how ?”
Having the clarity of baseline first and target first approach helps …..
Would love to hear from you on what occasions did you have to chuck away your baseline if not great. If so how much of it was throw away and what portions could you keep ?
Image Credit : https://www.flickr.com/photos/strelka/