Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What is Wrong with Enterprise Architecture?

#entarch In my previous post, What is Enterprise Architecture (not again)? I identified five interlinked perspectives on the nature of Enterprise Architecture. There is a different class of critique that applies to each perspective.

EA as instrument
Questions of effectiveness - does it work? Efficiency, reliability, etc.  Does the instrument have requisite variety?
EA as discourse
Questions of relevance and coherence - does it make sense?
EA as community
Questions of politics and affiliation and development - is there a collective character and intelligence, how does this coalition of supposedly like-minded people create and re-create itself?
EA as knowledge
Questions of validity (epistemology) - to what extent are these knowledge claims grounded in practical experience?
EA as trade or service
Questions of economic and ethical viability - who creates value for whom, who demands what from whom, governance.

I think there are problems for EA from all five perspectives. While these problems are undoubtedly interconnected, they are logically distinct.

This set of problems produces a number of observable consequences.
  • Crisis of confidence - EA practitioners not being sure of their value to the enterprise
  • Credibility - People outside EA not having a clear understanding of the value of EA
  • Failure of leadership - lots of self-appointed experts trying to impress their followers with grandiose abstractions, complicated schemas and random theories
  • Existential  angst - lots of pointless and empty discussions

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