To really know me, you should know that my word is big,” says Whynde Kuehn, community builder, thought leader, and author. “I love big goals, big journeys, big adventures, and big transformations.”
Kuehn, who lives in Norway, by way of Wisconsin and New York, brings this same big-thinking mindset to Strategy to Reality (Morgan James), an inspiring business book that offers guidance for entrepreneurs and leaders. Kuehn recognizes the challenges inherent in both developing a business vision and bringing that vision to fruition. Strategy to Reality is the culmination of Kuehn’s experiences across a broad range of global business sectors. At the core of Kuehn’s business philosophy is a focus on what she calls “business architecture.” She defines it this way: “A business architecture is a business blueprint that represents, at a high level, what an organization does and how it is structured to deliver value to its customers and support its operations.” By establishing this blueprint, an organization can effectively visualize its structure and collective purpose and better understand its goals and aspirations.
Kuehn traces the roots of Strategy to Reality to a business architecture–themed blog series she created called StraightTalk. “The blog was oriented around questions, and that connected me deeply with the business architecture community I was writing for,” she says. “We cocreated the journey together, through questions, and I always felt that we were in a continual conversation.” When writing Strategy to Reality, she chose to mirror the blog’s focus on asking questions. “I believe that questions are magical. They open a space for possibility, knowledge, dialogue, and clarity.”
Having a clear sense of an organization’s business architecture can answer essential questions surrounding target clientele and constituents, how those working within the organization are organized, and how the organization differentiates itself from others. Perhaps most importantly, business architecture can help to align and prioritize a company’s mission and goals for the present and future while anticipating and navigating inevitable change. And, particularly over the last couple of years, change has become one of the few constants that business leaders can expect.
“Business has indeed reshaped significantly, and I think we can assume that continually navigating and adapting to change will be our normal for years to come,” Kuehn says. “Strategy to Reality gives readers the tools to understand the impacts of change and a defined blueprint to design those changes so that they can be communicated and moved into action.”
Kuehn emphasizes that business architecture isn’t just a theoretical construct. Rather, like a blueprint for a building, it represents a plan of construction and an opportunity for company-wide galvanization. It can be helpful to think about business architecture in terms of building blocks themselves, each one critical to the construction in its own way.
“Business architecture helps us to design or redesign our organizations with intent and agility,” Kuehn says. “We can assemble capabilities in different ways to deliver new value, products, and services. We can also design our organizations with increased efficiency, for example, by reducing the number of systems needed to automate the same capability.”
And there’s no limit to what a comprehensive, cohesive, and transparent business architecture can accomplish. Notably, Kuehn sees advantages in decision-making around “customer experience, product management, investments, cost, risk, compliance, outsourcing, business and IT alignment, application portfolio management, technical debt, cloud strategy and migration, sustainability, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures,” and much more.
Kuehn utilizes a proven five-step approach to create a business architecture practice:
1. Build the case for the business architecture.
2. Select an initial usage scenario(s).
3. Build the business architecture foundation or blueprint.
4. Leverage the business architecture for the initial usage scenario and continue delivering value.
5. Create a road map to formalize the business architecture practice within the organization over time.
Kuehn believes that an effective blueprint can inform not only single companies but also networks of businesses working together or for common human goals. And while the model presented in the book is most applicable to organizations, Kuehn notes that much of the content is also relevant to individuals. “One can think about the blueprint of one’s own life,” she says, “and bring an intentional approach to personal improvement and change.”
Ultimately, Kuehn hopes that Strategy to Reality will serve to better the lives of readers both professionally and personally, individually and collectively. “I work with so many incredible people around the world,” she says, “and it is my greatest hope that this book finds its way to every single person who is meant to read it—no more and no less—to help them with their careers, their organizations, or their dreams.”