Thursday, December 08, 2011

Enterprise Architecture Tempo

#entarch Like many complex capabilities, enterprise architecture operates at several different tempi. (See my post on Enterprise Tempo.) A workshop at the SEI last year identified three tempi, which it called "Operating Modes".
  1. At the lowest level, enterprise architects operate in an urgent response mode, reacting to crises as they arise.
  2. Next, enterprise architects may operate in a continuous improvement mode, making incremental changes and generally avoiding crises.
  3. Finally, enterprise architects may operate in a transformative change mode, collaborating with business leaders to enable new business capabilities and new business models.

The SEI observes that, in practice, enterprise architects are nearly always operating in all three modes, but suggests that the most effective organizations will spend less effort in the urgent response and more in transformative change.

Most of the process frameworks for enterprise architecture concentrate on the longer-term operating modes - sometimes called tactical and strategic planning. Some frameworks distinguish between solution architecture (with a typical cycle time of 6-18 months) and enterprise architecture (with a typical cycle time of 3-7 years).

But surely it is the less effective organizations, where more effort is devoted to urgent response, that are in greater need of process guidance? As I said in my post on Enterprise Architecture as Viable System, the dilemma for EA is how to appear useful in a crisis without (a) throwing all the EA professional discipline out of the window or (b) demanding at least four months to carry out a proper study. So what good is a process framework that simply tells such organizations that they really ought to put the urgent stuff aside and concentrate on long-term transformation? Or a process framework that is incapable of Learning from Stories?


John Klein and Michael Gagliardi, A Workshop on Analysis and Evaluation of Enterprise Architectures (pdf) SEI, November 2010.

Elsewhere the term "operating modes" has been used for the EA archetypes identified by John G√łtze and his colleagues, but this is completely different. See my post on the Dimensions of EA maturity.

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