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Anatomy of Agile Enterprise

Janne J. Korhonen

Strategy Is Not Defined in EA Process

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Last time, I outlined a composite framework for enterprise architecture and its governance. I was criticized for something the model seems to suggest, and would like to specify it for that part. The critique concerned the processes at the strategic level: does the framework imply that the business strategy is defined within the enterprise architecture process?

No.

Enterprise architecture is essentially a set of descriptive representations of the enterprise's present and future states in terms of its (systemic) organization and structure. These representations are comprised of abstractions that can be described in discrete symbolic terms and handled using formal logical thinking.

The higher the level of abstraction, the more difficult it is to express architectural elements in explicit and structured terms. Whereas it is relatively straightforward to catalogue IT infrastructure, information system and data elements at the physical and logical levels, the elements at the conceptual level are more indeterminate and the notions like core competencies or business models at the contextual level almost escape verbalization.

Strategy work calls for holistic thinking that transcends the method of separating structure from content altogether. What Dr. Otto Laske calls dialectical thinking is needed to understand an organization's objectives in its ever-changing broader context and to anticipate the longer-term impact of objectives both inside and outside of an organization. As soon as change sets in, the intrinsic "finitude" and "negativity" of things needs to be acknowledged -- change cannot be just "managed".

The strategic, or contextual, level of the framework bridges the strategic intent and the enterprise architecture, the dialectical and the logical. The outputs of strategy work are brought into the EA process and EA is leveraged as a tool to support the strategy process. Even if the strategy documentation cannot be translated to structured format applicable to be stored in a meta-data repository, it is important to verbalize and communicate the strategic intent as precisely as possible in order to be able to align the architecture with the strategy. The framework can specify certain guidelines for this documentation and assign responsibilities to be fulfilled by different parties.

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Season's Greetings to all of you reading this blog! I will now take a short break from blogging and be back in a few weeks.

Janne J. Korhonen provides insights into how information technology can be applied strategically to catalyze organizational change and responsiveness. Drawing from both theory and practice, he discusses agile enterprise and its governance.

Janne J. Korhonen

Janne J. Korhonen is an independent business and IT consultant,specializing in enterprise architecture, business process management,service-oriented architecture and pertinent governance models. He has over ten years of experience as an architect and consultant in a variety of extensive and mission-critical IT projects. With strong theoretical underpinnings, his consulting encompasses systemic co-development of business, organization and information technology.

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