It is perhaps curious that enterprise architects, even those who insist that EA is not just about IT, should be so quick to frame all structural issues in terms of IT architecture. The industry analyst firm Forrester got some stick recently for a list of "Top Ten Issues" that were all technologically oriented.
To understand the complex structural issues of business organizations, we need to look beyond the methods and models derived from computer science and database theory, and draw from such disciplines as systems thinking and management cybernetics. Here are some of the (overlapping) structural themes I have been looking at.
- Asymmetrical demand
- Business as a platform
- Coupling (the enterprise as a loosely coupled network of sociotechnical components and services - as in my book on the Component-Based Business)
- Differentiation and integration
- Edge organization
- Enterprise tempo (different activities with different characteristic tempi)
- Ethical dilemmas (conflicts of interest, moral hazard)
- Multi-sided markets (different stakeholder classes with complementary demands)
- Organizational intelligence
- Viability (command and control, VSM)
It's not easy to get one's head around some of these structural themes in the abstract, so I'm going to try and produce a series of concrete vignettes showing how these themes play out in specific industry sectors.