Well, if there is a thing that hasn’t changed since the time I first engaged in an enterprise architecture work, more than ten years, is that everyone wants to have an enterprise architecture office or unit, but no one knows why they need it!
At the time, the 2008~09, I was working as a low level of technical and delivery personnel. So when my manager tasked me with bootstrapping the enterprise architecture team, the first I did was to Google the term so I can copy the templates and fill them up. Hey, everything was one step or another from my technical incubated mind. But boy, was I hit by a wall within the first hour or so from searching. It was like I was overwhelmed by oceans of information that didn’t add up. So, in trying to stay at my comfort zone, I went back to my manager begging to remove me from this nightmarish thing that was assigned to me only to be responded that it was great for my journey and my experience (the classic bait and switch). Well, I tried again and again but to less success that I would expect. Ya, things changes since that time but the essence remain the same, and that is CIOs, CTOs, and CxOs see themselves in a position with high technical entropy where randomness in technology is the norm and start researching to end up with a Gartner article or a consultant assessment that Enterprise Architecture will fix this problem and enable high level of assets re-usability and technology utilization.
I am guessing this scenario has and is happening to many organizations and enterprises. And what is worse is that once an EA is booted in a place, management will see it as the unicorn that will solve their all of their problems, and to be faced with overestimating the value realized and underestimating the level of commitment and resources needed to succeed (depending on what success is actually is). Eventually, such an initiative will be scrapped or placed on life support to be later revived by other management due to the problems that initially started the whole initiative in what is similar to business dementia!
And what is worse is that the EA office becomes like an archiving business unit that its sole purpose is to document, graph, catalog, built tables and matrices of any change that happens to the “Technology” with links to the business roots that caused that change. And to be later trophied by the EA office sponsor as the black wizards that can decide on the fly on the validity of the ideas and initiatives through they were instructed by the said manager on the what to say beforehand.
Look, I am not saying this as a touch of sarcasm but rather as things that I have seen and anecdotally heard many times. It is truly a sad state that we reached, and I yet to see, locally, a good and functioning example of a unit that truly fulfill its purpose and promise! And what is worst is that till this day and people get confused about what an EA is. At least twice this week, I directly heard from clients that they want to develop an Enterprise Architecture without mentioning what the mean. I reply on both occasions on what they want to get a reply they want something like a blueprint of how their IT looks!
Enterprise Architecture is a damn journey, not an initiative or a project delivered by a consultant firm relying on the clients’ ignorance. This journey purpose is not to capture and develop some artifacts to demonstrate it to management without any incoherent value, it is a journey that tries to make sense and context out of any change in the enterprise from the point where the aspirations change into strategies until the point there is a change in the operating model and its supporting resources whether people or technology. It has its roots in the system thinking and planning theories and lately incorporating some design thinking practices.
I will try to elaborate on this subject along my journey, and hopefully, I could formulate my language and concepts to describe what an EA is.