As I get ready for a week’s vacation in Aruba (lots of Scuba diving and time with my family!) I want to explore a couple of more aspects of the “sticking point” that I see IT shops bogging down in as they mature from Level 1 business-IT maturity towards Level 3.  The sticking point is at the inflection point in the middle of Level 2.

I talked in the last post of the shift in Enterprise Architecture from an IT-out, bottom up perspective, to a business-in, top down perspective.  This is the type of shift that does not work by just “working harder at EA” or by throwing more resources at it – it takes a significant shift in approach.

Getting out of Level 1 into Level 2 is mostly about rigor and process discipline.  Process Management, CMMI and ITIL are the types of formal disciplines that bring order to the chaos of Level 1.  These all make sense – in fact, are essential (these, or similar process methods) especially given that much of the work of maturing from Level 1 is about cleaning up the IT infrastructure (“getting the trains to run on time” or “keeping the lights on” as the metaphors go) and implementing enterprise solutions (ERP, for example).

The trick in getting through Level 2 and to Level 3 is not so much to throw out the disciplines that got you out of Level 1, but to apply it in a much more selective and gentle handed way.  The types of business problems and solutions that are common in the higher reaches of Level 2 and dominate Level 3 are more about business experimentation, and less about rigorous formal specifications and requirements management.  While project management continues to be a foundation skill, program management and IT portfolio management become key in Level 2 and the Scientific method becomes an important alternative to requirements management.