Enterprise Architecture

What is enterprise architecture? Simply put, EA is understanding complexity to simplify, then deliberately change. Performed through a consistent practice of simplifying the real-world to understand it and understand the impact of potential change.

In short, enterprise architecture is understanding the real-world in a way that allows you to deliberately change it

What is Enterprise Architecture

Unfortunately, you cannot look at most enterprise architects and EA Teams and see what they do. Therefore, we have the recurrent question.

Most people with the job title Enterprise Architect are not doing enterprise architecture. Most of what we call EA is not recognizable as enterprise architecture.

An enterprise architecture is a simplification of complex reality. Useful enterprise architecture has several characteristics.

  1. it explains how a deficiency in our organization exists
  2. it provides a way of assessing change against multiple criteria
  3. it directs change to improve and organization

We often refer to the enterprise architecture as the binder. By itself, an architecture is a set of documents.

Enterprise Architecture serves

Primary market for an enterprise architecture
Stakeholders own all Enterprise Architecture decisions

Enterprise Architecture Decsion CycleEnterprise architecture as a deliverable is often less useful to a stakeholder than its development.

Stakeholders who need to make complex decisions. Solve Wicked Problems without an obvious answer. Hard Problems that have better answers on different criteria.

Developing an enterprise architecture helps the stakeholder explore the potential answers and select the least-worst.

Secondary market for an enterprise architecture
Sponsors manage enterprise resources & drive change programs

Enterprise architecture provides a Sponsor with the constraints & value of a change program. They advise the Sponsor on the plan to execute the architecture roadmap.

Tertiary market for an enterprise architecture
Implementers owns all implementation decisions

Enterprise architecture provides the Implementer with what is being built, where value is realized, & what the Implementer does not control

What is an Enterprise Architect

An enterprise architect helps their stakeholders make better decisions about change.

  1. An enterprise architect supports others decide
  2. An enterprise architect's value proposition is their ability to analyze
  3. An enterprise architect is a servant leader
  4. Enterprise architect is not a seniority award

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Most explanation of what is enterprise architecture follow one of two paths. They either speak to what we do (Gartner). Or they speak to how it is done (DoDAF).

Both paths net down to understanding the real-world. Then deliberately change the real-world using that understanding.

What we do

“the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating, and improving the key principles and models that describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution”

- Gartner

How we do it

“a set of abstractions and models that simplify and communicate complex structures, processes, rules, and constraints to improve understanding, implementation, forecasting, and resourcing”


What is Enterprise Architecture

Useful EA supports decisions

Whether to change & what to change?
How to change?
What to leave alone?
How to deal with failing change?

Enterprise architecture is created and used to support complex decision making.

You use EA when you have a wicked problem that has answers competing on separate assessment criteria.

Tests for a Wicked Problem

  • The problem is not understood until after the formulation of a solution
  • No stopping rule
  • Solutions are not right or wrong
  • Essentially novel and unique
  • Every solution is a 'one shot operation’
  • No given alternative solutions

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