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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Future or Current state EA, which one is first, cnt'd

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I am elevating this at the blog level since it is an important debate for many of us and well, the posts are too long for a reply. Philip replied to my latest opinion in this debate. 

We agree to disagree; still, one of us is right and one is wrong, on the whole.
Philip you have not answered many of my arguments though while I did try to reply to most of yours.
Philip's friend's challenge is in the current state (no job, money...). That is why he must come with a solution, a strategy that will solve the Current Situation problems. i.e. no job, no money. In this case we know well the current situation and more, the target state is only supposed to solve the current state problems, nothing else. 
I rather disagree with the gem that we never get to the future state. We do realise it. Buildings are architected, raised and delivered. Same with some Enterprises. The problem is that in some Enterprises, people play management and strategy "games". They come up with goals and strategies that are too vague to be implemented. But the Enterprise ignores them, for all the noise, and goes on living. In these cases, the visions are unachievable because they are not  rooted in reality (current situation). They sound like "Increase the profit margins by 20%" in recession times. But how? Is it realistic? What is the situation?

I am saying that Enterprise Architecture is about the description of the Enterprise that one may use for many reasons like understanding, alignment, automation or change.

It often happens that EA is used for duplication reduction alone, as in Philip's example. It would have been much better, as Philip recommended, to include the business requirements and strategy so that EA included all factors from start because that is what makes it an Enterprise wide Architecture. But then, one should have also included the BPM automation, XSigma business improvement efforts, non-IT technology plans...

Philip's writes about research study: "The scientific study I quoted also proved that, by considering where you are BEFORE considering where you want to be you will LIMIT your future target state. I'm not quite so certain I understand your reference as it's not explicitly focused upon making decisions based upon an unfettered future state versus creating a future based upon today's limitations."

I prefer no to rely on psychological research alone. That science is like EA. It has a long way to go. As I have mentioned, it was also discovered that nine years olds are ready to live in society. As a result of this, some people may behave like that the rest of their life.

In short I disagree with the research. Of course, one has to LIMIT the vision to one achievable from current situation. Otherwise the friend might have a vision of becoming the CEO of a hedge fund or win the Lotto, rather than getting a good job. He probably does that as I do. But do I count on it happening? More, the progress to that Vision should be measurable from the current situation so that we can see where we are.

I listened to a similar argument where people said that an EA framework would Limit their ability to to the EA job. Well TOGAF does that, I agree. But in that case, any knowledge would limit your ability to perform in the future since it will train you to respond in specific ways. That does not mean you have to remain ignorant and start from scratch.

My research reference, in response to Philip's, concluded that a child that makes a deliberate decision to postpone achieving his desires (vision) in order to study and discover would achieve and reap the benefits later. That is the child is aware of the current situation, improves on it rather than jumping to vision.The child builds on his current capabilities. And that sounds true. But it may as relevant as that other research is.

If you create a vision of your Enterprise, that ignores the reality of your current Enterprise, you may end up with no Enterprise, most probably. And the business would never agree to this. You may have elements in the future state that are not in the current state. Starting from the current state is an evolutionary approach; beginning with the vision and stopping the current EA is a revolutionary approach that in fact may build an entirely new Enterprise. 

This future state first approach is somewhat typical of IT that always wishes to jump to a new technology abandoning the last mess behind. But the business needs to keep the ball rolling no matter what technology. 

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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