By Stuart Boardman, Getronics
It’s an unfortunate fact that when times get tough, the tough, rather than get going, tend to pick on other people. What we see is that most formal and informal groups tend to turn inwards and splinter into factions, each possessing the only true gospel. When times are good, we’re all too busy doing what we actually want to do to want to waste time sniping at other folks.
Maybe this isn’t the reason but it strikes me that in the EA blogosphere at the moment (e.g. the EA group on LinkedIn) every discussion seems to deteriorate into debate about what the proper definition of EA is (guess how many different “right answers” there are) or which of TOGAF® or Zachman or <insert your favourite framework here> is the (only) correct framework or why all of them are totally wrong, or worse still, what the correct interpretation of the minutiae of some aspect of framework X might be.
Perhaps the only comfort we can draw from the current lack of proper recognition of EA by the business is the fact that the Zachmanites are actually not firing bullets at the Rheinlanders (or some other tribe). Apart from the occasional character assassination, it’s all reasonably civilized. There’s just not enough to lose. But this sort of inward looking debate gets us nowhere.
I use TOGAF® . If you use another framework that’s better suited to your purpose, I don’t have a problem with that. I use it as framework to help me think. That’s what frameworks are for. A good framework doesn’t exclude the possibility that you use other guidance and insights to address areas it doesn’t cover. For example, I make a lot of use of the Business Model Canvas from Osterwalder and Pigneur and I draw ideas from folks like Tom Graves (who in turn has specialized the Business Model Canvas to EA). A framework (and any good methodology) is not a cookbook. If you understand what it tries to achieve, you can adapt it to fit each practical situation. You can leave the salt out. You can even leave the meat out! There are some reasonable criticisms of TOGAF® from within and outside The Open Group. But I can use TOGAF® with those in mind. And I do. One of the things I like about The Open Group is that it’s open to change – and always working on it. So the combination of The Open Group and TOGAF® and the awareness of important things coming from other directions provides me with an environment that, on the one hand, encourages rigour, and on the other, constantly challenges my assumptions.
It’s not unusual in my work that I liaise with other people officially called Enterprise Architects. Some of these folks think EA is only about IT. Some of them think it’s only about abstractions. I also work with Business Architects and Business Process Architects and Business Strategists and Requirements Engineers and….. I could go on for a very long time indeed. All of these people have definitions of their own scope and responsibilities, which overlap quite enough to allow not just for fundamentalism but also serious turf wars. Just as out there in the real world, the fundamentalists and those who define their identity by what they are not are the ones who start wars which everyone loses.
The good news is that just about enough of the time enough of these folks are happy to look at what we are all trying to achieve and who can bring what to the party and will work together to produce a result that justifies our existence. And every time that happens I learn new things – things that will make a me a better Enterprise Architect. So if I get noticeably irritated by the religious disputes and respond a bit unreasonably in web forum debates, I hope you’ll forgive me. I don’t like war.
By the way, credit for the “fundamentalism” analogy goes to my friend and former colleague, François Belanger. Thanks François.
Enterprise Architecture will be a major topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, Austin, July 18-22. Join us for best practices and case studies on Enterprise Architecture, Cloud, Security and more, presented by preeminent thought leaders in the industry.
Stuart Boardman is a Senior Business Consultant with Getronics Consulting where he co-leads the Enterprise Architecture practice as well as the Cloud Computing solutions group. He is co-lead of The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group’s Security for the Cloud and SOA project and a founding member of both The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group and The Open Group SOA Work Group. Stuart is the author of publications by the Information Security Platform (PvIB) in The Netherlands and of his previous employer, CGI. He is a frequent speaker at conferences on the topics of Cloud, SOA, and Identity.