(3) – Business Innovation Architect

The Job

The Job in a Nutshell

Business Innovation Architects guide the agile creation of distinctive new business capabilities.

Making Innovation Work

Many of the challenges of creative business innovation occur because there is no suitable owner for the overall vision, architecture and execution of a new idea.  Business Innovation Architects fill this structural gap in program team design. 

BIA’s sit midway between business and technology.  They are pragmatic visionaries, expected to dive both ambitions strategy and urgent action.  Specifically they span four critical gaps that undermine creative enterprise initiatives.

The First Gap – Strengthening Weak Ideas

Organizations naturally produce ideas rooted in the status quo.  Project portfolios fill with inconsequential projects, work that even when implemented do little to change the business’ fortunes .   

The first job of a Business Innovation Architect is drive out meaningfully innovative project visions.   The BIA champions ideas that create:

  • visible customer value
  • unique competitive advantage
  • meaningful scale and reach
  • profitable contributions to success


The BIA’s job is not merely vetting possible opportunities.  Rather, they actively explore and develop ideas, transforming conventional requests into ambitious strategic pursuits.

The Second Gap – Extending Incomplete Architectures

No author expects to publish a novel without thoughtful editing.  The first pass at any complex creative endeavor is incomplete, inconsistent and immature.   And yet, new business projects are often built based on the initial wishes and assumptions of stakeholders.

Lots of business potential is left on the table.   BIA’s complete and empower the architectural vision.

  • Extending the idea and connecting additional elements
  • Deepening functionality to provide more compelling value
  • Creating platforms that support extensibility and flexibility
  • Solving design problems that limit the architecture

Note that this is not a technical architecture (how the program is structured), but rather a strategic business architecture (what the initiative will do).   This ultimately determines how effective the innovation will be in creating business value for the organization.  

The Third Gap – Enthusiastic Engagement

Truly new ideas are a hard sell.  As ambitious strategies draw in more stakeholders and ask them to make deeper changes, getting genuine buy-in becomes an ever greater challenge.   It’s not enough to have a “kick off” meeting.   New ideas must be enthusiastically sold.

 Business Innovation Architects are evangelists, advocating for new ideas, creating a compelling vision and taking it on the road.  As they engage both business and technology stakeholders they work to:

  • Make a clear and enthusiastic “pitch” for the idea
  • Find a unique and compelling business benefit for each stakeholder
  • Listen to concerns / opportunities, growing the strategy as they go
  • Making sure that others incorporate the vision in their own team strategies.

It’s the BIA’s job to make sure that new ideas are seen as “wins” for every participant, and that the idea is incorporated in the strategic vision of every key player.  

The Fourth Gap – Enabling Adaptive Action

Innovative projects are inherently uncertain and subject to change.  Traditional project management processes, even agile methodologies, have a hard time managing complexity, multiple stakeholders, and ongoing learning in a dynamic environment.

The BIA, with a deep understanding of the project drivers and constraints is in an excellent position to drive urgent action while assuring the vision of the program is not compromised.   They work with the rest of the traditional project team to:

  • Identify gaps and inconsistencies between sub-teams
  • Provide problem solving to complex cross project problems
  • Driving win-win collaboration across multiple participants

The Bottom Line

Business Innovation Architects make innovation work.  Engaging a BIA increases the strategic value of innovations and makes teams more effective at delivering new and original capabilities.

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