The Business Architect

James McGovern, as he so frequently does, encouraged a conversation on the evil enterprise architect. He makes a number of great points in this post.

  1. “Many enterprises are getting it twisted by mistaking process for architecture…”
    First, since this is presented without the context, the message is that in many enterprises, the architect has fallen into a role of the gatekeeper. Rather than spending time on strategy, layers of abstraction, and modeling, they are consumed by tactical decisions for projects at hand. If you think about this, it really is a problem. How often does a building architect have to approve the detailed design and implementation decisions by the general contractor? Odds are, the architect is off designing the next building. Architecture establishes constraints, and it is the beginning of the design process. The problem is that is in IT solution development, these constraints exist too much in the architect’s head and not enough in something that is consumable by the general contractor on the project. As a result, the architect has to be more involved in the day to day project operations, and their role becomes more about the governance process than about strategic modeling. One additional item of note: processes and architecture do go together when it is about process modeling.
  2. “What would happen if EAs started to think about creating new business value by modeling and ultimately simplifying the complexities of the business domain?”
    Life would be better! A barrier preventing this is that the role of Enterprise Architect is usually an IT role, not a business role. I wish it was the case that this wasn’t a barrier, as the efforts of everyone should be about the business. It shouldn’t matter what organization it comes from. There’s no shortage of articles written on how IT workers need to become more business aware. Likewise, there are some very tech-savvy business workers out there. In the perfect world, the Enterprise Business Architect could come from either the business or IT, and would have the full support of the enterprise in trying to improve the business.
  3. “Maybe if us EAs started noodling the notion of enterprise service models that would be a good first step.”
    Noodle noodle. I am a proponent for an enterprise service blueprint, and I think we’re speaking to the same thing here.
  4. “Business value can also be created by understanding the marketplace (bazaar) and even the social domain in which one plays in (aka community). What if we were to enable better ways for communities to communicate and interact with each other in a meaningful way? Would this enable new business opportunities?”
    I feel even more strongly about this. Unless we understand the cultures involved and the appropriate way to communicate and collaborate, we’ll never live up to our full potential. Sometimes we communicate poorly, but even more often, there is no communication at all. There are diamonds in the rough to be found, and only by continuing to improve how we communicate and collaborate, looking for new ways of getting things done can we continue to innovate and be more productive. A strange but accurate example of this is American Idol. The recording industry has been around a long, long time with set processes for finding new talent. There are many talented singers out there who simply have no exposure to that process. Along comes American Idol that challenges the way that singers are matched up with the recording industry, and a phenomenon is born. We must continue to search for ways to allow new ideas to get to the ears of people who need to hear them.

One Response to “The Business Architect”

  • Good points. I like the building analogy. That is a real problem within IT. Unlike a building architect where there are licensed contractors, standards, specs, inspection processes and building codes, the IT architect usually doesn’t have any of that to work with. Which is why IT architects tend to have more hands on I think. Some IT organizations have moved beyond this but they are fewer in number.


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