Monday, November 17, 2014

Enterprise Architecture Redux

Redux comes to us from the Latin reducere - to lead back.
And, that's what I was reminded of when Jason Bloomberg touched a raw nerve with his Forbes article: Is Enterprise Architecture Completely Broken?.
I think he is pretty harsh in comparing Enterprise Architects to Milton the red stapler guy from the movie Office Space ; "showing up for work day after day, clueless about why he has nothing useful to do."
But he may be on to something when he says : ".....practice of EA has become all about documentation rather than effecting business change." That may indeed be the case in some organizations.
His recommendation for a cure: "The field of Enterprise Architecture must itself transform into a new, Agile Architecture in order to drive digital transformation effectively in today’s increasingly wired world."
He is however silent about how to make that transformation. Here's how successful organizations can "lead back" with Enterprise Architecture (EA):
  • Align EA more closely with overall business strategy.
  • Redeploy EA resources in alignment with business processes/solutions rather than technology stacks.
  • Communicate.Communicate. Communicate. Traditional EA does a poor job with this. An architecture is of no use if stakeholders are not aware of what it is.
  • Harmony. Talk to building architects and they will talk about the need for the building to be in harmony with the elements. This piece often gets missed out in Enterprise Architecture. Harmony should be an EA objective and it make business sense too (Think Steve Jobs).
  • Influence and lead with Ideas. EA needs to be source of and the go to for technology related thought for business stakeholders. Needs to be looking ahead through a telescope rather than just peering at the rear view mirror or looking out of the front window.
  • Teamwork. Work across the Technology and Process Silos. Solution Architects who are often closer to the business and technology pain-points are EAs friends not foes.
  • Exit the Ivory Towers. Ditch the highfalutin "frameworks". Well, not exactly, use them but speak the language of the masses. They are not interested in the "frameworks" per se but what the end result is. They know you are smart ; no need to remind them of that at every interaction with EA jargon.
  • Collaborate. Create an EA organization which encourages collaboration within the teams and with stakeholders.
  • Tolerate. The technology roadmap is great but EA would need to tolerate those pesky legacy applications esp. if the appetite of the business for technology investments/change is limited.
  • Ubiquitous.Pervasive, Omnipresent, Everywhere... call it by whatever name EA influence should permeate the organization.
  • Rapid and Agile....and Timely. Those strategic roadmaps are not meant to be filed away in a shelf. But that's where they will end up if their delivery is not aligned with business objectives which are ever-changing and dynamic.
  • Evangelize. People/Stakeholders need to see, feel the passion of EA. EA needs to be perceived as Change Agents rather than as Auditors. One of my favorite CIOs talks about IT organizations (and I think it would apply to EA too) need to decide whether they want to be pizza order takers or dietitians for their business partners.

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