#EAC2009 Following my workshop on Business Modelling for Business Improvement at EAC 2009, I caught the end of Sally Bean’s and Peter Haine’s workshop Reflecting on EA.
An interesting discussion on EA archetypes. We talked about the contrast between EA-as-visionary and EA-as-realist. The EA-as-visionary is an optimist who produces value by creating new opportunities and producing economies of scale and scope; the EA-as-realist earns his/her keep largely by stopping ill-conceived initiatives, saying No to pushy vendors, and producing economies of governance. (In January 2006, I put the case for Realism in a debate on Optimism with Jeff Schneider.)
Roger Sessions mentioned an interesting correlation in the US government space between IT failure and Sarbanes-Oxley-driven "investment" in Enterprise Architecture, suggesting that a mere formal requirement to produce EA deliverables may actually destroy value. (Roger discussed this in his recent editorial on Obama's Information Technology Priority; he is planning to include some graphs in his talk tomorrow afternoon.) This indicates a third archetype: EA-as-formalist, bureaucrats playing Zachman bingo with little vision or practical realism.
And yet there is probably a place for formal rigour, if it can be balanced with vision and realism. It is the formal rigour that confers some authority on the architect to promote either vision or realism or both. So how do we combine the three archetypes: Visionary, Realist, Formalist?
While it would be crazy for me to equate this triad with Lacan’s triad (Imaginary, Real, Symbolic), I think there may be some weak structural parallels. Here are some starting thoughts.
Imaginary - For Lacan, this is about constructing coherent images. The EA-as-visionary must be good at joined-up-thinking, and good at story-telling.
Symbolic - For Lacan, this is about representing the images in some language. The EA-as-formalist must be able to create robust representations.
Real - For Lacan, the Real is what resists representation. The EA-as-realist must understand the limitations of both the vision and the formal models.
I don't know how fruitful this parallel is going to be, so I need to think about it a bit more.
See also Architecture and the Imagination (Oct 2012)