#entarch #bizarch #UnicomEA #SSM #VSM #VPEC-T At yesterday's EA Forum, a rich picture of the oil industry was presented by Mesbah Khan, who then posed a question about the possible use of such a picture, for enterprise architecture and beyond.
The rich picture is a core technique of the Soft Systems Methodology (SSM). Over the years, there have been many attempts to produce hybrid methodologies combining SSM with more structured systems approaches. One of the earliest such attempts was Multiview, produced by Trevor Wood-Harper and others in the mid 1980s. In Multiview, a version of SSM is used to analyse issues, and these are then aligned with the analysis of tasks using a more conventional IS modelling approach.
Among other things, Mesbah's rich picture model features stakeholders and their concerns (shown as bubbles), and identifies the conflicts between different stakeholder concerns (shown as crossed swords). This is clearly equivalent to Multiview's analysis of issues.
Nowadays, the terms "stakeholder" and "concern" are mandated by ISO 42010, and incorporated into several enterprise architecture frameworks. (However, stakeholder concerns are often presented as a relatively homogeneous and consistent set of goals and objectives, e.g. using the Business Motivation Model or other schemata, and there is often not enough attention given to the conflicts between stakeholder concerns.)
As I see it, each of these conflicts calls for a series of capabilities or activities to govern the conflict - to allocate resources, balance priorities, and contain the risks. (However, these capabilities and activities are often absent or marginalized in the structured models produced for IT purposes.) They also have important implications for organizational design and trust.
One way of looking at these management and control capabilities is to use a cybernetic view of the enterprise, such as Stafford Beer's VSM. Mesbah indicated that his rich picture can be mapped onto VSM, but he did not have time to present this mapping at yesterday's forum.
Meanwhile, the trust issues may require a different style of analysis, such as VPEC-T, which helps to highlight those issues that are typically "lost in translation" when we go from a "rich" model to more abstract and homogenized "structured" models. See my note Does Rigour Matter?