Toward an Enterprise Business Motivation Model

by Nick Malik

Summary: A business motivation model is a conceptual information model that demonstrates how the efforts of the business are, or are not, aligned to its goals. Producing and delivering reports that illustrate this alignment supports highly mature decision-making. But before we can collect data to produce these reports, the structure for data must be developed. Existing models are not sufficient to serve these needs. This paper outlines a new structure that can be used to model a wide array of business motivations in context with the structure and activities of the business. Adopting this structure can support an effort toward greater enterprise architecture maturity.



Enterprise Architecture is an area of IT that focuses on answering some fairly difficult questions: How do we improve our alignment with the business? How do we increase the agility and flexibility of IT? How do we reduce the cost of managing information while improving the level of service to our business customers? The answers to each of these questions play out in the models, reports, and recommendations of the Enterprise Architect.

Questions like these are tough to answer. The typical enterprise is continuously changing to adapt to market conditions, competitive pressures, regulatory changes, and new opportunities. Talented architects, program managers, and business leaders frequently find themselves negotiating a careful path between the often competing goals of various business leaders across the enterprise. How do you plan for the future when everything is changing?

The answer to this conundrum lies in having a clear view of where the business is, and where it wants to go. If the business and IT leaders are not seeing the same measures or aligned to the same goals, much of the work of Enterprise Architecture loses its effectiveness.

There are four steps to this process, as illustrated in the Figure 1. Each builds on the one before it, so you cannot effectively perform these out of sequence.


Figure 1: Building toward excellence — each step in describing the business builds on the one below it


1. Adopt a model: There are many ways to describe how a business is designed to operate. Various models, from value chain analysis to SIPOC diagrams to business model diagrams have been used to illustrate various aspects of value, relationship, and production. Each has its own strengths. Each focuses on different things.

Each business needs to carefully select a single model that is as comprehensive as possible, answers the questions that they want to ask, and can be executed by existing resources. Selecting the wrong model has the effect of wasting time to produce bad advice. Selecting many different models has the disadvantage of producing many different answers to pressing questions. As the saying goes, “A man with one watch knows the time. A man with two watches is never sure.” A single conceptual model can be used to answer many different kinds of questions for different stakeholders. To extend the analogy, one watch can display the current time in two time zones, as well as provide a stopwatch and countdown timer. All can be consistent, yet each answers a different question.

2. Capture Goals: Once you have a model that can be used to describe the business, it is time to use it. Describe the business in that model. Capture both existing structures and future looking objectives and goals. Create a base of knowledge and understanding that you can turn to when questions arise. This is the data that you will use to generate consensus when strong-willed leaders make a bid to use emotion and passion to overwhelm reason. Get your data right, because it matters.

3. Align Efforts: Most businesses have ongoing “change efforts” and a few more waiting to get started. Each effort has their sponsor and many have ardent supporters. Alignment means making sure that each of these efforts is tied to a specific strategic goal or objective and that there is a reason to believe that accomplishing the effort will further the particular goal. Business Process Improvement techniques like Six Sigma are often used to demonstrate how a particular effort supports a goal through statistics, measurements, and management methods. After completing this stage, an enterprise architect can produce reports, based on verifiable data, that illustrate the relative value of each project to the goals of the business.

4. Manage Portfolio: Having data is one thing. Using it is another. For an enterprise to make a move away from passion-driven decisions and toward decisions built on data, the data has to be there, and then the business has to make a commitment to use it. That said, having the will to use data, but no data to use, produces an equally ineffective situation.

The first three steps in this process are “all about the data.” Step one is to select the data model and then, from there, to fill it with pertinent data to support decisions. Unfortunately, creating an overall model is difficult and time consuming. It is far better to adopt an existing model than to create your own.

Experience teaches us that the simplest of disagreements about seemingly small things (like “what is a service,” “how many applications do we have,” or “what metrics should we use”) can drive wasted effort and produce inaccuracies in understanding. These inaccuracies can be sizeable, significant enough to influence portfolio decisions. At the extreme, valuable projects may be canceled, delayed, or delivered inefficiently, while low priority projects consume resources or block the way.

The Stakeholders of a Motivation Model

Clearly, Enterprise Architects can benefit from a shared understanding of the business. However, many more internal stakeholders, both inside and outside of IT, benefit from a common understanding of the business.

Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO) – When a change in strategy is considered, the EPMO can quickly identify the projects that may be affected and how a change to the priority of those projects may affect other enterprise dependencies.

Line of business leaders – Through visibility into the goals and strategies of other businesses, the leaders can more effectively negotiate interdependencies to achieve their shared goals. It will be simpler to avoid taking dependencies when nimbleness is required, and easier to take a dependency when efforts need to be leveraged off of one another. Business leaders can also use this information to avoid short-term dependencies while planning for longer-term dependencies.

Business analysts – Analysis and Requirements gathering efforts can benefit through a single shared understanding of how each business unit and change strategy is aligned to enterprise goals. Using this understanding, analysts can collect requirements more efficiently, insure a complete coverage of their efforts, reduce the amount of time that business SMEs need to spend sharing information, and improve the results of their analysis.

Software designers and project managers – Having a common base of understanding of the business can help IT software professionals to produce information models, analysis models, software services, and information portals that more closely align to business goals without requiring the business analysts to document the business in redundant and often conflicting ways. The model can be used to trace the requirements back to their source, not just in terms of the people who provided the requirements, but the rationale that they used to justify them.

IT service managers – Through a shared understanding of the business, IT managed services, as described in ITIL, can be designed in a manner that minimizes overlaps, ensures a cost-effective use of resources, and insures that investments for flexibility are made in the right places. In addition, service managers can align their service level agreements to many parts of the business in a consistent manner and can use the business motivation model to identify and illustrate opportunities to deliver new services and improve existing ones.



Sources of Business Motivation Models

With all of the various benefits of a consistent model of the business, it is no surprise that a number of prior attempts at describing a generic business motivation model have come to light. One strong effort by the Object Management Group produced the OMG Business Motivation Model (the first official version was released in September 2007).

An outgrowth of a multi-year effort by the Business Rules Group, the OMG Business Motivation Model (OMG BMM) allows an analyst to describe the business motivation using a small set of core concepts: means, ends, influencers , and directives .

The OMG is not the only body that has attempted to solve this problem. The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) version 9.0 includes, for the first time, a business motivation model that is simpler than the OMG model and is based on the concepts of drivers, goals, objectives, and measures.

These two models are useful in their own narrow context, but the models defined by TOGAF and OMG can only answer a limited set of questions. We needed more than these models could provide. For example, neither model is able to recognize the source of multiple competing goals within an enterprise. Neither model can answer the following question: How do I determine which conflicting strategies, from different business models, must be rationalized in order to simplify shared business processes?

In order to answer questions like this, we need to represent a key concept, one that is not well represented in the existing models: one enterprise can use more than one “business model” (Figure 2). This business makes two types of electronic eavesdropping equipment that it sells through three different channels.


Figure 2: Value flows for the fictional company IBuySpy — how many business models are represented?


When you examine this enterprise, consider this central question:

How many businesses are represented here?

One must answer this question to understanding the nature of business motivation.



Understanding the Notion of a Business Model

Our answer, to the question above, is based on a comprehensive understanding of business architecture. If a business is a “way to make money,” then each “way to make money” is a collection of elements that together form a business model . A business model is a specific configuration of these elements. Elements of a business model include things like customers, products, finances, and resources.

A business model goes beyond an abstract “vision” statement. It is a specific set of elements in a specific configuration. Dr. Osterwalder, in his Ph.D. thesis, outlined a set of elements that are part of a business model. Our adaptation of his approach appears in Figure 3. For more information on the work of Dr. Osterwalder, visit his blog at


Figure 3: The elements of a business model — one of seven core models in the Enterprise Business Motivation Model


Before we go into detail about the meaning buried in each diagram, let’s take a moment to understand how to read the diagrams:

  • The arrows from one box to another represent a relationship. The arrowhead tells you how to read the verb on the line. For example, in Figure 3, you may have read that “the value configuration targets the customer demands and relationships.” Two verbs on a line can be read as two relationships. Therefore, the value configuration both empowers some partners and prevents others.
  • Each type of information appears once and only once.

Therefore, if you have a description of a business unit, it belongs in the part of the model that describes business units, and nowhere else. In that way, this model can be used to form a relational database.

In the Enterprise Business Motivation Model, the composition of all of the elements in Figure 3 forms the business model. When a business is just beginning to form, some or all of these elements would be collected together in a document called a “business plan.” The business model is a statement of how the business is supposed to operate. It is, in effect, similar to a vision statement, but one that not only motivates behavior but helps to guide development of the corporate structure itself. The business model describes why you need business units, and what responsibilities they have. Business processes are created within the confines of a business unit to fulfill those responsibilities. At the center of this space is the business model.

If we return to the example of IBuySpy, we can ask the question again: how many business models does the enterprise have? IBuySpy sells to three different market segments, and within those segments, IBuySpy sells two totally different types of products. We could describe IBuySpy as having two business models (based on the type of products), three models (based on the market segments) or four business models (based on the value flows). While answering the question is context specific, and therefore beyond the scope of this article, one conclusion should be obvious: an enterprise can have more than one business model. IBuySpy has more than one way to make money.

Note that it is possible to represent some of this detail in the OMG BMM. It is possible, for example, to represent each business model as a vision. However, it is not possible to represent the unique relationship that each business model has with motivating the formation of the business units, business processes, and specific strategies.

Albert Einstein once said “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” The Business Motivation Model from the OMG proved too simple for our needs. It was accurate, but not useful. It was this single realization that inspired the work described in this article.



Building a New Business Motivation Model from the Ground Up

Placing the concept of a “business model” into the heart of a “motivation model” is a major change from current thinking. Existing models were not designed to represent an enterprise with all of its business units and competing strategies, business policies, and influences. So, in effect, we are starting over.

However, rather than start from scratch, we started from the same basic elements as those defined by the OMG and TOGAF models, and set out to analyze, compose, and create a single model that would produce an understanding of the business that is rich enough to meet the needs of the stakeholders described above.

From the OMG Business Motivation Model, we draw in the concepts of an Influencer, an Assessment, and a Directive. From the TOGAF model, we draw in the concepts of a Driver, a Business Unit, and a Business Process. From Osterwalder, we draw the concept of the business model. From the Innovation Value Institute, we draw in the concept of a Business Capability. At the starting gate, the “model” is simply a set of entities that may or may not be correct (Figure 4). But it is a place to start.


Figure 4: The raw materials to build a model from — concepts drawn from published and unpublished sources



What Exactly Does It Mean to Motivate an Enterprise?

The next step to developing a new motivation model is to establish the relationships between these entities. In order to clarify the relationships, we start with the nature of motivation. Motivation can be defined as: motivation (noun) - internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested in and committed to a job, role, or subject, and to exert persistent effort in attaining a goal. (

This definition clearly states that motivation is about people. You can’t truly motivate a business because a business doesn’t have desire. You can only motivate the people involved in an enterprise. Equally important is the notion that motivation has different effects. You can motivate people to change a business, or motivate them to maintain a business in a specific manner. There is more than one kind of motivation.

A business motivation model is an attempt to capture the relationship between the factors that stimulate change (motivators) and the places in the business where those changes can be seen. Different motivating factors have different relationships. The relationships are what differentiate one type of motivator from another.

By looking at the relationships between ‘motivators’ and their effects on the business, we can discern three basic types of motivators.

1. Influencers are external to the business. They behave as they wish, and it is up to the business to notice them and respond. Influencers include competitors and analysts as well as abstract things like business trends and competitive opportunities. The relationship between an influencer and the business manifests in the form of a driver. An influencer inspires a driver, and that driver changes the enterprise. The driver translates influence into terms (and activities) that a business can understand.

2. Drivers are internal motivators that affect the model, structure or capabilities of a business. Drivers are change agents. They represent any entity or effort that directly drives the business to change.

Drivers include strategies as well as mission statements and change projects. Drivers can also be the people who are responsible for bringing those strategies into reality.

3. Directives are statements of policy or rules that do not change the business. Instead, they provide the rules by which the business is required to operate. You can change the business by changing the directives that guide it. Directives affect the individual decisions that people make and therefore primarily influence business processes. These three types of motivators are the cornerstones of the Enterprise Business Motivation Model, as illustrated in Figure 5.


Figure 5: Enterprise Business Motivation Model


We’d like to point out a distinction between this model and those described by the OMG and TOGAF. The model above groups together the concepts of a goal, a strategy, a principle, and a measure as types of drivers. More detail will follow on this point.

To understand the distinction between an influencer, a driver and a directive, consider this simple analogy.

When Frank returned from work one particularly hot day last summer, he noticed that some of the neighborhood children had set up a lemonade stand on the corner. Four children, all under the age of 12, were busy selling refreshments for 50 cents each and doing quite well for themselves.

When Frank mentioned the lemonade stand to his own family, he expected his children to shun the idea. After all, they were not particularly industrious children. Yet his 12-year-old daughter Megan and his 10-year-old son Daniel both showed great interest.

So the next day, with some encouragement, Megan and Daniel marched down to the curb and set up shop on a folding card table, selling their lemonade with cookies they bought by the dozen from Ozun’s Bakery three blocks away. Megan’s friend Alice joined them and worked through most of the afternoon. At 75 cents each, their lemonade was more expensive than the competition, but the cookies made a huge difference.

Frank had carefully coached his children on how to politely take an order and make the correct change. They all agreed not to “eat the inventory” or give away any free samples. At the end of the day, they had made enough money to pay for supplies with a little profit left over. Megan saved her money, and Daniel bought a new toy. But more importantly, in Frank’s eyes, they had learned to take some initiative and were rewarded for it.

In this story, the influencers were the warm weather, as well as the neighborhood kids. Frank himself was an influencer. They inspired the business. But warm weather didn’t put together the lemonade stand. That was Megan and Daniel’s job. They created a business model that involved all aspects of the business, from suppliers to customers, including the strategy of selling their lemonade with cookies.

Megan and Daniel were drivers , responsible for making the changes needed. But those same kids, along with Megan’s friend Alice, were also the business unit . The folding table, inventory of lemons and cookies, and even the hand-lettered signs, are resources of the business unit. Megan and Daniel learned some of the skills they would need ( capabilities ) like how to make change, how to treat customers well, and how to replenish the lemonade, from their father and then taught Alice. In addition, they had decided on some key directives (“don’t eat the inventory” and “no free samples”) that helped to insure that there would be a profit at the end of the day. They kept those directives in mind as they performed their business processes throughout the day.



Types of Business Drivers

As you might imagine, each of the base types described so far have specific subtypes that draw out the distinctions within the model and provide for clear traceability. Figure 6 highlights the various types of drivers within the enterprise business motivation model.


Figure 6: Types of business drivers and how they relate to one another


As you can see from this model, the mission and vision of the enterprise are not contained within the description of the business model. While they may influence the business model, the mission and vision are statements of principle. They are used to drive action, and are therefore drivers.

The model presented here is different from the existing motivation model developed by the OMG. In the OMG model, a mission statement is a means to an end described by the vision statement. Strategy and Tactic are subtypes of “course of action.” An extract from the OMG Business Motivation model, highlighting these elements, is shown in Figure 7.


Figure 7: The existing OMG BMM represents various drivers but not the business itself


The reason for the difference is simple: the Enterprise Business Motivation Model considers the complex (yet common) scenario where some stakeholders may want to change the business while other stakeholders may not want to change it, or may have conflicting ideas about how to change it. If we are going to effectively understand the dynamics of change, we need to be able to describe both the business as it stands today, and rationale for changing it.

Both of these concerns, the “right now” and the “not yet,” exist at the same time, and both must exist independently in the model in order to understand and trace the impact of change across the organization.



Business Units and Their Capabilities

Whether your business is a lemonade stand or a multi-national corporation, a business model can be constructed to describe how the business can make money. That business model describes the way the enterprise must behave in order to make money.

The business model demands that the business must have some resources, and that those resources must be applied in a particular configuration in order to produce a valuable result. These resources live within the ‘business unit’ part of the business motivation model.

A business unit is not only the hierarchical list of people employed by the enterprise, but also the assets, products, services, liabilities, and any other “item of value” that tends to appear on a balance sheet or product catalog. The business units are the organizational ‘parts’ of an enterprise that actually do the work. Figure 8 highlights the key concepts within the business unit view.


Figure 8: Elements of a business unit


Many of the concepts in this model are identical to those described by the OMG Business Motivation Model, including the relationships surrounding Assets . However, this model adds the concepts of a business capability, capability roadmap, maturity assessment, and business service. (Note that the OMG model uses the term “Organizational Unit” which should be read as a synonym for “Business Unit.”)

Where the business model describes the required competencies of a business, the “ business unit capability ” is the description of a specific ability, to be performed by a specific business unit. For example, if our business model says that we need to be competent at “selling widgets,” there must be a business unit (“sales”) that has the ability to perform this task (“sell widgets”) using a set of business processes (“generate lead,” “offer product,” “close sale”). We included this concept in the Enterprise Business Motivation Model because it is the anchor for one of the two types of assessments: the capability maturity assessment.

A maturity assessment evaluates how well a business unit performs a required capability. A highly mature capability is efficient, effective, and repeatedly produces a high quality result. A finding of “immature” illustrates the areas of the business that could be improved. It will not, however, illustrate the order in which those improvements will be made. That is where the “ capability roadmap ” comes in. A capability roadmap answers the question “which capability do we need to improve, and when, in order to improve our enterprise.” Such a roadmap is, itself, a driver of change.

The concepts of business program , company , and asset are external to the EBMM. They are illustrated here as reference points for extending and connecting this model with others.

A business service , in this model, is a packaging of business capabilities so that an offering can be made to a customer or partner (including an internal customer). The business model defines what business services must exist (if any). The business service calls upon specific business units to provide the effort needed for that service.



Governing Business Processes

Business Processes are an integral part of the business motivation model because one of the three types of motivation, directives , apply primarily to business processes. A business process is a series of activities, usually performed in order, that create value for the customers of the process. Directives include business rules and business policies, and they are useful for guiding and governing the behavior of these business processes. (See Figure 9.)


Figure 9: Elements related to business process and directive


Understanding and modeling the business rules is an important activity, and the work of the Business Rules Group to create a methodology for describing business rules is a key step toward maturity in this space. Readers are encouraged to take a look at the SBVR standard, published by the OMG, in order to dig deeper into this critical area.

A success measure may not be a direct measurement of a business process. Rather, a success measure is the measurable understanding of “success” that may be cited in the business strategy statements themselves. For our Lemonade stand, “reducing the amount of waiting time” may have the effect of increasing sales because fewer people will leave the line and those that stay will be more satisfied. In this case, our Key Performance Indicator (reduce wait time) is selected because it tracks the success measures (increased revenue and increased customer satisfaction).

Once again, it is the relationship of the metrics to the rest of the model that highlight their nature. A metric is not a driver, but it can be used by a driver to motivate change in the business.



The Overall Structure of the Enterprise BMM

The overall structure of the Enterprise Business Motivation Model is illustrated in Figure 10. This diagram illustrates each of the core entities for the Enterprise Business Motivation Model. Other elements can be connected to this model, including requirements for IT software, to indicate traceability from the business drivers down to the changes needed in the IT infrastructure.


Figure 10: Detailed structure of the Enterprise Business Motivation Model



Conclusion and Next Steps

Clearly, the Enterprise Business Motivation Model is substantially different from the models that exist in other frameworks. To the greatest extent possible, we used the elements and relationships that were defined in other models as guides in order to ease the process of adopting a new motivation model into an enterprise architecture program.

Adopting a rich and mature model for capturing the structure and motivations of a business is a key part of growing the maturity of Enterprise Architecture. Many of the most important questions of enterprise architecture require a solid understanding of how the business is structured and aligned to deliver value, and a single comprehensive model of business motivation allows an Enterprise Architect to answer those questions.

We invite comment on this model and hope to see it merge into the EA frameworks that are appearing in various standards bodies around the world. If you have suggestions, questions, or comments, please address them to or visit to join the discussion.



About the Author

Nick Malik has been on the leading edge of software development as a developer, architect, and business leader for 28 years, including stints at Racal, American Express, IBM, and Acadio. In his current role as an Enterprise Architect in Microsoft’s internal IT group, he considers himself fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds in Microsoft. When he is not busy being a geek, he can be caught watching the latest movies, exercising with his wife Marina, or horsing around with his kids Max, Andy, and Katrina.



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