Thursday, February 19, 2009

TOGAF 9 - Holistic Enterprise Change

One of the advertised features of TOGAF 9 is something called "Holistic Enterprise Change". A quick Internet search for this phrase revealed very few hits, mostly to the TOGAF materials themselves. Here's what the Open Group says (What's New In TOGAF 9).

"TOGAF has a solid history in IT architecture, considering the ways in which IT can support enterprise change. However, as TOGAF has grown in depth and maturity it has become a framework for managing the entire spectrum of change required to transform an enterprise towards a target operating model. TOGAF 9 continues this evolution and incorporates a broader perspective of change that allows enterprise architecture to be used to specify transformation across the business, data, application, and technology domains."

Is that it? What exactly is there in TOGAF 9 that justifies this claim? I don't believe TOGAF 8 was ever fully explicit in excluding these elements, and TOGAF 9 doesn't provide much new detail on these elements.

I've got an idea what it ought to mean, but I am aware that "holistic" is one of those words that people often abuse - perhaps thinking it's just a fancy way of saying "complete" or "comprehensive" or even "alternative".

My understanding of holistic is that it entails some kind of emergence - the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. See Wikipedia on Holism.

In the context of enterprise architecture, this could mean something like this: When you make changes to the business as well as changes to the systems, you may get more than you bargained for. Conversely, when you make changes to the technical systems without making changes to the human systems, you may get less than you bargained for.

Is this perhaps what TOGAF 9 is getting at? If so, does TOGAF 9 have any answers to these fundamental questions?

I posted a question about the meaning of holism to two Linked-In groups. There was an excellent discussion on the Enterprise*As*Systems group. On the Enterprise Architecture Network, however, the comments all appeared to assume that "holistic" meant the same as "whole". Having looked at the TOGAF presentations by Walter Stahlecker and others, I have regretfully come to the conclusion that the use of the word "holistic" in TOGAF also reflects this misunderstanding.

I know Wikipedia isn't perfect, but it did contain a reasonable definition of holism, which I had pointed to, so there's no excuse for ignorance.

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