Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dimensions of EA maturity

@gotze (John Gøtze) kindly sent me a copy of his 2010 paper Architecting the Firm (written with Pat Turner and Peter Bernus). My interest had been stimulated by Anders Jensen, who described the paper as follows in his blog on the Thinking Enterprise.

It has been a healthy evolution for EA to question its IT heritage and adopt a broader perspective of how commercial enterprises navigate and gravitate in their respective marketplaces. This healthy evolution has particularly been articulated by Turner, Gotze, and Bernus (2010) in their paper Architecting the Firm: Coherency and Consistency in Managing the Enterprise, which argues the key role of architecture in executive management.

The paper offers four interesting EA archetypes, which are presented as a maturity model. As I see it, the four archetypes described in the paper differ along three orthogonal dimensions: instrumentality, agency and scope.

  • The first archetype ("Foundation") could be described as Invisible EA. In what sense is EA going on at all? Even the "struggle for existence" is largely invisible. 
  • The second archetype ("Extended") describes EA in instrumental terms - as an instrument for managing assets.
  • The third archetype ("Embedded") describes EA in terms of agency - with EA taking authority and responsibility for certain things.
  • The fourth archetype ("Balanced") goes back to describing EA in instrumental terms  - but with a much broader scope of application.

However, there seems to be little evidence of a development path passing through these four archetypes in irreversible sequence, nor any reason to suppose this particular development path to be either optimal or unavoidable. For my part, I prefer not to call this kind of thing a maturity model at all. In my post on SOA maturity models, I pointed out a key difference between an evolution roadmap (which says what you can do immediately and what you may defer) and a maturity model (which says what you can't do until). A roadmap is enabling and encouraging; a maturity model is parental.

Reading the paper, I wondered how the evolution of EA within one enterprise (possibly via these four archetypes) might relate to the evolution of EA itself (into Next Generation EA). The paper outlines "the vision of the right information for the right people at the right time ... coherency of information flow". But this doesn't exactly sound like EA questioning its IT heritage does it?

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