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How do you apply enterprise architecture to a growing business?

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In an article at Zapthink by Jason Bloomberg, Why Nobody is Doing Enterprise Architecture, Bloomberg asks, Where does enterprise architecture take place today? In enterprises, of course. That is, existing enterprises. And you don't architect things that already exist. Architecture comes before you build something! So if growing a business implies there is no specific final state, how do you architect a business that is growing?

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  • We do re-architect enterprises to simplify them, increase agility... and achieve a target state.

    An enterprise "grows" when there is no target state, as stated.
    EA though, aims to avoid random growth by projecting a target state and then implementing it according to business strategy and roadmap.

  • Jason's point is that organizations grow organically, which is the antithesis of pre-planning. Perhaps the economy is analogy we can look to -- it grows in many directions, sometimes wildly, sometimes sluggishly, but usually in response to society's needs. Government and federal reserve policymakers (love 'em or hate 'em) provide guidance, prop up faltering sectors, and attempt to dampen bubbles. Of course, you don't want them have too much control, as this would equate to stifling centralized planning. But you don't want them to be too weak and ineffectual either. Perhaps the same principles can apply to EA.

  • As Adrian hints to one architect the change itself, such that the business can grow successfully on fertile ground.

  • Using EA to support the evolution of a growing and/or incrementally evolving business should be the default mode of operation for most EA groups. The transformation that many EAs and all SIs love have been shown to largely fail in the current (and we expect future) business environment. The world is moving to fast to define a detailed target state and transform too it.

    The is the big idea behind the session I do for a local post-grad EA degree (see The value of EA). Building an EA function that can support this is not hard, but it does require setting aside a lot of EA dogma.

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