Strategy as Code TM

More signal, less noise.

Service Specifications

codify the creation of value

Services are a means to codify the creation of value for the business. Typically a service is a component of a larger system, modeled as a series of steps, a boundary delimited fragment, where each step is a key waypoint on the road toward some definite objective.

Being a mental model, there is no single definite solution. The “right” model of a service is one that produces value for the business under the current circumstances of time and place.

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Reciprocity in Services

looking at both sides of the coin

When two parties share a common interest in a successful outcome, then the next biggest obstacle is arriving at a shared understanding how the thing will happen. Mistaking agreement for actual understanding of how to proceed is a common source of trouble.

There are two sides to any story. How we describe the give-and-take of an arrangement will influence what emerges to become the focus of attention. Seeing the reciprocal to any story will help force contradictions and inconsistencies onto the surface.

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Service Boundaries

good fences make for good neighbors

Services emerge when a process is constrained within defined boundaries. We use language to define the boundaries of our Services. Not just any language, but carefully chosen taxonomies, forged and hardened like machine tools.

The fact that a service is defined as having a final outcome implies a system boundary. Title companies establish property boundaries by sending out a survey crew to painstakingly measure the bounds and then mark it by driving metal pins in the ground.

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Service Patterns

resilience in the face of continually changing circumstances

Services are adaptable patterns which describe the core of the solution to a problem in such a way that you can use this solution repeatedly under continually varied circumstances.

To begin on a journey of Strategy through Design, we need to unmask existing services which are hiding in plain sight, concealed by the terrain of our business landscape. Once they are effable, they become subject to management, susceptible to improvement; a pliable medium for establishing productive patterns.

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The Function and Purpose of a Service

a system's behaviors signals it's real purpose

Dogmatism describes the case when our understanding of reality is viewed primarily through the lens of theory. Pragmatism has been reduced in common usage as a synonym of practical, but here we intend the tradition meaning of the adoption of observation as a first class partner to theory.

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Who, Why, How and What

the four dimensions of strategy

A service encodes a strategy for creating value for the business. We’re using the term strategy in the sense of the definition “A careful plan or method…”

In Demystifying Strategy, Michael Watkins defines strategy as how people throughout the organization should make decisions and allocate resources in order accomplish key objectives.

The questions who, why, how and what form the four dimensions of strategy. Analysis of these four questions will subsume the four components of a service, discussed above, and put them in the context of the function and purpose of the service.

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The Language of Services

a 4x4 model to navigate rough terrain

When we consider each of the four components of a service from the vantage of these four dimensions, what emerges is complete vocabulary for the language of services.

This taxonomy gives us the structure to complete an interlocking grid of service stories which serves as the basis for service agreements to form valid contracts.

Service Discovery is putting together the puzzle of who, what, how and why resources are afforded (budgeted) and the interaction with performances that supply outcomes.

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Patterns of Performance

dev team as a service

Process modeling in software development usually takes the product as the object of the model; there’s nothing wrong with that, as far as that goes, but rather than focus on what is being built, let’s explore the idea of how software is developed as a service.

Keeping in mind that a model is just a hypothesis, not an assertion of fact, let’s see if we can identify a small set of patterns that encompass the activities of a development team; just an exploration of the question.

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Framing Services

strategy and components in context of time and place

“Services” are a means of encoding and expressing strategy through design. Carefully chosen and well-defined vocabularies help reveal the contours of the solution space.

Services Frames provide a syntax for our taxonomies, a binding for our stories, allowing us to describe a Service without being overly prescriptive, preserving optionality.

A Frame is a proposal through which — by applying a particular pattern of relationship — we can create a desired outcome.

— Kees Dorst

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Death by KPI

the budget is the voice of the customer

Business process modeling typically starts with the assumption that the stated business objectives are the function and purpose of the service; on the surface of it, a seemingly reasonable proposition.

But think about the sum of all activities in a business … are they all explainable in terms of the officially stated objectives? Even when you subtract wasteful activities, there will still be many useful and essential activities which don’t map cleanly to the approved value streams.

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