Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

The enterprise management body of knowledge is larger than enterprise architecture

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When does EA start to care about sociocultural influences? Nick Malik stresses this point. But should we care?

True, reality is "messier" than the boxes and lines of an enterprise architecture because it is invariably more complex than the models that describe it. That we already know. For instance, human bodies are more complex than their anatomy could ever describe. 

But to consider culture, since culture is about human behaviour, we have to include the people tier in the EA. Most frameworks don't even consider people and organisation today or they just mention it in passing. And while EA is or should be more than IT, the reality is that it takes place in IT. We often talk about this "true" EA, but that has still little to do with the IT EA we currently do. 

Besides, culture is a topic in itself, hard to quantify or change. Does an EA architect even have the skills to deal with culture now? The experts in organisations, "culture" and social issues have their own educational track, training, books, sites... They use their tools of the trade to map centres of virtual power, show networks of interests at work, discover what make people pull, classify cultures, reveal cultural roadblocks and how one can change all that... They have their own body of knowledge.

An EA architect cannot simply pretend to be able to solve these problems without instruction and experience. The architect cannot really master all the knowledge necessary to manage an enterprise. And specialisations exist already. Besides, the architect is not the factotum, the problem solver or the trouble shooter of the enterprise as he is sometimes positioned. 

While, no doubt, a few EA architects can surely advise in such matters, the question is, should culture even be part of the EA job description? 

In my view, it is a matter of "if" rather than "when" socio-cultural interactions be considered by EA. They do matter to the enterprise management but they are less likely to be part of enterprise architecture because, by comparison with humans, are something akin to the psychology of the enterprise. 

The enterprise management body of knowledge, that includes sociocultural factors, is much more than enterprise architecture same as medicine is much more than anatomy. EA remains though the science or, for now, the art of mapping the enterprise, that is, of uncovering the anatomy of the enterprise. Besides the anatomy of the enterprise is still in development.

Ultimately, as EA matures, one may have to link the socio-cultural aspects to it.  But the EA architect has to coordinate the inclusion of all these enterprise views rather than provide them himself.

To succeed now though, the EA architect must be skilled enough at avoiding the cultural roadblocks that may stop EA in its tracks. For that see this.

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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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