Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Architecture and Logic

J├Ârgen Dahlberg suggests that "Enterprise Architects fail because of their reliance on logic as their single means of persuasion".

At a SCiO meeting in Manchester in 2010, Patrick Hoverstadt led an interesting discussion about logical levels, showing (among other things) how serious negotiation of critical issues often mixed logical levels. Sometimes you can "win" an argument by shifting to a higher logical level; but sometimes shifting to a lower logical level is the "winning" tactic.

There are several important points here. Firstly, "winning" doesn't necessarily mean winning. If you dig your heels in, you can win a local victory in a particular discussion, but you may damage your own longer-term interests. (Winning the battle but losing the war.) Secondly, shifting logical levels always has some emotional as well as logical content - it relieves some feelings as well as producing other feelings - for example, feelings of anger and frustration, especially in people who sense what is happening without being able to rationalize it.

@CarlChilley didn't find this surprising. "Decrease S/N ratio by changing the game and enter the emotional minefield that results." But what kind of people are going to win this kind of game? Presumably we need some form of emotional intelligence to successfully traverse an emotional minefield.

Just before writing this post, I happened to find my copy of Paul Watzlawick's book Ultrasolutions at the bottom of a box of old books. Watzlawick worked with Bateson on logical levels of communication, and includes some great examples of mixed logical levels in his book, including some heated exchanges between a fictional husband and wife.

Enterprise architects are typically adept at going up to a higher logical level (for example HOW - WHAT - WHY) regardless of whether this is appropriate in a particular context, and may not understand why this doesn't always automatically win the argument. Furthermore, if they lack emotional intelligence, they may fail to appreciate the emotional consequences of this tactic on the people they are hoping to influence.

So in what sense are enterprise architects good at logic?

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