Mike Kavis had started the discussion with a comment on Twitter: "Everybody is struggling with the value of EA for us little guys while I see it each day." In reply, Brenda had suggested that the problem was "many equate EA w/jumbo frameworks and rigid governance, rather than set of values and practices for capability delivery". This was what prompted Mike Rollings to issue the invitation.
Meanwhile, Aleks Buterman claims to have a "secret sauce to measuring value of EA" but won't let anyone see the recipe. I think this is a pity, because I believe a credible measurement formula needs to be open, transparent and calibrated on a range of different organizations. I hope he's working towards making something public.
Before we look at Mike Rollings' own report on EA, let's take a quick look at his criticism of Gartner, provocatively entitled Gartner wakes out of an EA induced coma ... (11 August 2009)
"Thank you Gartner for validating my claim that prevailing wisdom about EA is washed up and the pursuit of building an EA admiration society is not the predominant goal of EA. Thank you for further illustrating that living in a mythical world where EA is king is just dead wrong."
And he continues with a plug for his own firm
"Want a new approach for enterprise architecture? Read Burton Group's EA research."
So I did (see edited highlights below). Mike's report identifies three familiar problems, and then makes four fairly bland recommendations. Is this really a new approach? Unfortunately, there is a "disconnect" (one of Mike's favourite words) between these two sections, so the recommendations don't demonstrably deal with the problems. (Indeed, readers with real experience of EA may see ways in which Mike's recommendations might make some of his problems worse. For example, there are several plausible arguments for having an eclectic approach to EA, but it isn't clear how this is going to solve the problem of disconnected EA artifacts.)
While Mike's understanding of EA problems appear to be underpinned by his adhoc observations of EA in practice, there is no sign that his recommendations are based on anything more than common sense. Therefore nothing to stop him, when he is arguing with Gartner, coming up with an entirely new set of recommendations (see below).
In my opinion EA is in crisis, and it needs a lot more than disconnected recommendations based on common sense and/or prevailing wisdom. More than engineering perhaps, but where is the value proposition for Enterprise Architecture?
Edited highlights of Burton reportProblems facing EA
- EA has minimal influence. I have spoken with teams that could not gain traction - their artifacts were disconnected from each other and lacked relevant guidance. I have also seen beautiful architectures ... that go unused.
- Lack of participation and commitment. A lack of participation can fuel and be perceived as the ivory tower syndrome, which is a natural outcome of organizational isolation.
- Mismatch with the domains of the effective CIO. Most EA programs are heavily skewed towards a single domain: implementing and managing technology.
- Avoid using frameworks like a precise cookbook for architecture. A variety of methods (unspecified) should be used to capture, communicate and share design information. Enterprise architects employ both manual and mechanical tools in a purposeful way.
- Align with your organization's operating model. The operating model is fundamental to the business. Effective EA programs align with the operating model and do not over-reach the level of standardization or integration determined by the business.
- Be results-oriented. Successful EA programs are action-oriented and help get things done. People understand how the EA program works. They also understand the contribution that EA team members make as participants in other IT processes.
- Do not settle for comparisons: Understand what needs to improve. Maturity assessments can be very elaborate. At a minimum they should evaluate the following EA program characteristics: Business Alignment, EA Program Oversight, Communication and Change Leadership, and Governance. By examining these characteristics with an open mind toward change, an improvement plan can be created to improve EA related outcomes.
- Rule-Breaking: If rules are being broken it can signal outdated thinking and the need for something different.
- Entrepreneurial: Value of IT comes from being transparent about your business contribution.
- Self-Educating: Embrace varying ideas, collaborate vigorously and respectfully, assure that you tap into the variety of perspectives that exist.
- Bonding: The lack of influence is probably a main cause of your EA coma.
- Visionary: Be a leader, be a team player, participate and collaborate.