Architecture Thoughts of the day

Thoughts of the Day 2020

23 Dec 2019 — EA helps turn an enterprise from a chaotic system into a deterministic system. Markets are mostly chaotic rather than deterministic. The enterprise aims to gain advantages in markets. The more deterministic an enterprise, the less able it is to cope with chaos. The more chaos in an enterprise, the more likely it is to fail. Where do you find the balance?

24 Dec 2019 — In building architecture, people live inside the spaces bounded by the walls. There the interplay of light and shade can happen, shaped by the walls and the openings in them. It is not the walls but the spaces that are important. There people can thrive. In EA, people live inside the spaces bounded by the structures we create. There the interplay of competencies, capabilities and resources can produce beauty, moving and changing through the enterprise like sunlight at different times of day. Just like building architecture, it is the spaces you create that are important.

26 Dec 2019 — “When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I’ve finished, if the solution is not beautiful I know it’s wrong.” — Buckminster Fuller

27 Dec 2019 — Enterprise Architecture is, in some senses, about the exercise of power. The EA helps to re/design the enterprise in such a way that its power can be exercised and transformed in a clear, controlled, measurable and accountable way.

28 Dec 2019 — If you design a transformation programme to succeed even if several of its projects fail, your strategies will do the same.

29 Dec 2019 — In building architecture, the architect works with the customer to understand the brief; with suppliers to understand what can be supplied and the best materials; with the builders to understand their ability to work with those materials and the order of the build; with the project manager to understand the schedule and expenditure. All to produce plans. Plans so that the customer knows what they will get; plans so the suppliers know what to supply; plans so disparate builders can work together without ever meeting; and plans so the project manager can coordinate the build. Is EA any different?

30 Dec 2019 — The practice of EA is different in every enterprise because every enterprise has a different emphasis for its EA. A service industry enterprise is not the same as a manufacturer which means even their metamodel cannot be the same if EA is to be effective.

31 Dec 2019 — You should always make sure your stakeholders get some kind of reward. Otherwise you can end up with something like this Dilbert cartoon: But how? Surely not everyone can be a winner? The answers to those are to look downwards to your stakeholders’ pain-points or upwards to their ambitions. Fix a few of their pain-points as part of the transformation or make sure that their name is attached to something appropriate, noticeable, good and sure to succeed.

01 Jan 2020 — Inspired building architecture enhances and responds to its environment. It is a pleasure to spend time in. Its spaces allow you to appreciate and take advantage of its environment. When you develop that mindset, your Enterprise Architecture can do the same.

02 Jan 2020 — A process can be defined by the messages it passes to other processes and the messages it receives. As long as its messages stay the same, the internals of the process can be changed at will.

03 Jan 2020 — You want to build a house and two architects tender for the design work. One cannot draw and has never drawn a building. The other starts sketching ideas for you immediately. Most would agree that only one of them is an architect. EA is the same. An EA who cannot draw an enterprise is an EA in job title only.

04 Jan 2020 — In every architectural endeavour, there will be mistakes. There will be architectural mistakes, implementation mistakes, transformation mistakes, delays, devils-in-the-detail and lots of other negative things. Many EA teams try to reduce these negatives by implementing bureaucracy; checks and authorities to find and prevent them. And yet the negatives persist. What does that tell you about the bureaucracy? Is it better to make mistakes and fix them quickly than have a bureaucratic crawl to prevent them? 

05 Jan 2020 — The purpose of Enterprise Architecture is to allow an enterprise to efficiently adapt in order to take better advantage of its environments.

06 Jan 2020 — “There are two jobs in the world that people want to do the most while knowing the least about: architect and strategist.” — Eben Hewitt, Technology Strategy Patterns: Architecture as Strategy

07 Jan 2020 — In building architecture, any architect can point to millions of examples of the beauty the profession can create. There are examples that are thousands of years old. In comparison, Enterprise Architecture has only just begun to build rickety extensions onto cave entrances. There is no Parthenon we can point to as an example. One day there will be. Let’s make that one day soon.

08 Jan 2020 — Enterprises find success in stable markets using Process-orientation and success in changing markets using Capability-orientation.

09 Jan 2020 — The process you use to achieve an objective may not be the same as the process you use to consolidate the achievement.

10 Jan 2020 — Most of the best EAs have a business background because architecting an enterprise is nothing like architecting an IT system.

11 Jan 2020 — Every day, you find new ways to breathe beauty into your architecture even while knowing that tomorrow you would make it more beautiful.

12 Jan 2020 — What many Enterprise Architects call the Business Architecture is really the Operating Model. It is the small corner of the Business Architecture domain that allows an EA to model the business in a useful way and connect it to the other domains.

13 Jan 2020 — KPIs are an important part of EA. Most of the rest of EA is about how the enterprise operations are structured. If you design the KPIs well, they will tell you whether that structure is operating as intended.

14 Jan 2020 — Value Streams that don’t generate obvious Value for someone are just Processes.

15 Jan 2020 — Trying to design an enterprise without an EA tool is like trying to design a skyscraper without a BIM tool.

16 Jan 2020 — Employees are as loyal to an enterprise as the enterprise is to them. An aim of any transformation should be to move as many employees as possible out of Support and into Core. Even though it must create value, Support costs the enterprise whereas Core generates revenue. By moving employees into Core, you are safeguarding their job and showing them loyalty. 

17 Jan 2020 — The core output of both building architecture and Enterprise Architecture is not truth, beauty or even something that is functional. The core output is a set of plans that all of the stakeholders understand and approve.

18 Jan 2020 — “Architecture is a social act and the material theater of human activity.” — Spiro Kostof

19 Jan 2020 — One of the fun things about discovering the enormous number of parallels in building architecture and EA is that Grand Designs becomes a gentle and pleasurable form of EA training.

20 Jan 2020 — Some lessons that take a lifetime to learn can be passed to the next generation in a single sentence.

21 Jan 2020 — Sometimes you have to do 100 hours of really hard work to save 1000 people each doing an hour of easy work.

22 Jan 2020 — Capability is a notional construct; if your enterprise needs a better Marketing Capability, you can’t just pop down to the shops to buy a new one. 

23 Jan 2020 — Anyone can draw things that are impossible to build. An architect draws things that can be built by the available stakeholders.

24 Jan 2020 — Pay is not based on your worth, it is based on how much it would cost to hire/train your replacement.

25 Jan 2020 — Those inside the Finance department think the business is finance-led. Those inside Sales think it is sales-led. Manufacturing think it’s production-led. IT think it’s information-led. And so on for almost every part of the business except two. Both the exec and EA know that the business is led by making all of those parts work together.

26 Jan 2020 — “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

27 Jan 2020 — When dealing with key stakeholder disagreements, game theory is your friend. There are four possibilities: they are right; you are both right; you are both wrong; you are right. In reality, it is almost always one of the first two.

28 Jan 2020 — Many disagreements between stakeholders are caused by them using the same word to mean different things. Very often, there is no common language. Much of EA is about being a translator.

29 Jan 2020 — Hell hath no fury like an ambitious stakeholder thwarted.

30 Jan 2020 — Stakeholders are central to successful enterprise architecture.

31 Jan 2020 — Every stakeholder is different and they all need different Views of the architecture that address their specific concerns.

01 Feb 2020 — “It is hard not to see into the future, faced with today’s blind architecture – a thousand times more stupid and more revolting than that of other ages. How bored we shall be inside!” — André Breton

02 Feb 2020 — The work of an architect is to show that the available resources can be used to build something beautiful.

03 Feb 2020 — A commercial enterprise is a popularity contest with profit as its key measure. What use is commercial architecture work that does not increase the popularity or profit of its enterprise?

04 Feb 2020 — A government enterprise should be a drive to deliver the maximum effect for the least amount of money. What use is government architecture work that does not improve the effect or reduce the cost in its enterprise?

05 Feb 2020 — The more complex your metamodel, the more likely you are to become lost in the detail. Learn to pare the metamodel down so that the SMEs can handle the detail and you can concentrate on the architecture.

06 Feb 2020 — Projects turn the artful fantasy of a TOM into the reality of an OM.

07 Feb 2020 — A useful Enterprise Architecture model is not 2D or 3D but n-dimensional. Even before you consider time.

08 Feb 2020 — “The character of the architectural forms and spaces which all people habitually encounter are powerful agencies in determining the nature of their thoughts, their emotions and their actions, however unconscious of this they may be.” — Hugh Ferriss, The Metropolis of Tomorrow 

09 Feb 2020 — The future does not belong to those who tell the truth, it belongs to those who write the literature. Entire generations can be sunk by the ignorance and fabrications of the published.

10 Feb 2020 — Some enterprise stakeholders never hear of each other let alone meet. EA ensures their distant teams can produce coherent results.

11 Feb 2020 — They pay you because it’s work; if it was fun, they’d expect you to pay them.

12 Feb 2020 — An EA can aspire to design an enterprise’s architecture so that working within it encourages positive emotions and shows even the lowliest stakeholders that they are valued.

13 Feb 2020 — In business, Capabilities are useful for external markets but of questionable value internally. The term Capability comes from the military where it makes sense. Every piece of terrain is different and every opposing force has its skills so, if you are asked to secure a hill, the Capabilities you need depend on the hill and the opposing forces trying to prevent your success. Whereas, across the world, business departments and their staff skills are similar from enterprise to enterprise. Some of them are even eager for your success.

14 Feb 2020 — Building architecture concentrates on communicating the beauty of What will be built and an EA should do the same because, in both cases, Project Management is responsible for How it will be built.

15 Feb 2020 — “The rigidity of a bottle’s form does not affect the fluidity of the liquid it contains.” — Léon Krier, The Architecture of Community 

16 Feb 2020 —  A building architect does not design the machines in a factory. They design the building so that the machines can be arranged in such a way that the spaces between the machines are optimal for the people and to give them the greatest freedoms. Similarly, Enterprise Architecture is not about systems or collections of systems, it is about spaces and freedoms.

17 Feb 2020 — There is no such thing as finite resources in a world of infinite inventiveness.

18 Feb 2020 — When designing the architecture of an enterprise, it is better to produce only just enough detail. When you produce too much detail, the stakeholders can be confined to sub-optimal practices that are difficult to change. Or, worse, you might be telling them how to do their job. When you let the them fill in the blanks, they will optimise for their subject matter expertise.

19 Feb 2020 — Although no one wants it to be the case, it is generally recognised that some projects fail to deliver on their expectations and some fail to deliver anything at all. You can build greater resilience into your architecture if you design your roadmaps to allow for this.

20 Feb 2020 — Design is only one of the skills an architect needs. Just as important are the skills of listening to the stakeholders and elicitation of their vision. Possibly most important are the skills to clearly document, communicate and present the resulting architecture.

21 Feb 2020 — To be an enterprise architect is to aim to be one of the shoulders that great endeavours can stand upon.

22 Feb 2020 — “Gilks sighed. ‘You’re a clever man, Cjelli, I grant you that,’ he said, ‘but you make the same mistake a lot of clever people do of thinking everyone else is stupid.'” — Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

23 Feb 2020 — Enterprise Architecture requires an utter lack of sentiment about the architecture. What you spend months or years designing will need to be replaced before you know it.

24 Feb 2020 — Architecture records the thoughts and aspirations of the stakeholders in a form decided by the architect.

25 Feb 2020 — Successful stakeholder management requires appropriate tact. Successful architecture requires brutal honesty. Swap them at your peril.

26 Feb 2020 — A lot of architects confuse Capability with Function but the two are quite different. Function is inward-looking into the business and describes the work that is performed. Capability is outward-looking, describes a desired effect and can be delivered by any part of the business. The enterprise that has one thousand inkjet printers has very different Capabilities in its markets than the enterprise that has one printing press even though the print rate is theoretically close and they both have Functions to buy paper and ink. 

27 Feb 2020 — An architect with no appreciation of aesthetics is like a chef with no appreciation of flavour.

28 Feb 2020 — The slower your architecture team and the more bureaucratic its governance, the more stakeholders will try to avoid it and your enterprise will become ineffective at change. The faster your architecture team delivers useful designs, the more stakeholders will want to engage and the better your enterprise will become at change.

29 Feb 2020 — “The dialogue between client and architect is about as intimate as any conversation you can have, because when you’re talking about building a house, you’re talking about dreams.” — Robert A. M. Stern

01 Mar 2020 — Stakeholder requirements often shift when theory becomes practice and the construction process often unveils faults in an architecture. Changes to the architecture after construction has begun should consume your focus when they are needed. All of your future architecture will become stronger for it.

02 Mar 2020 — If you want plaudits when optimising an existing process, your first questions should be, “what part of the current process has caused someone to leave?”, “what is the most boring part of the current process?”, “what part of the current process is the most bureaucratic?” and “would you like those to be replaced or automated?”

03 Mar 2020 — It always helps if you are honest about your own limitations even if only to yourself. It seldom helps to be honest about your stakeholders’ limitations except to yourself. However, when your stakeholders have an admirable ability, it almost always helps to compliment them.

04 Mar 2020 — TOGAF has two fundamentals: an architecture process and what is architected; How and What; the ADM and the metamodel. Despite being ridiculously IT-centric, its metamodel only manages to be 25% about IT. How do so many IT architects become TOGAF-certified without noticing that 75% of what is architected has nothing to do with IT? How do so many IT architects leave out 75% of Enterprise Architecture yet still think they are an Enterprise Architect?

05 Mar 2020 — The faster your team can deliver quality architectural designs, the more enjoyable the work becomes. 

06 Mar 2020 — If you create a new process that takes just as long as the current process, the operational staff may never know or care about you. Find a way to save them ten minutes a day and they will love you.

07 Mar 2020 — “Architects in the past have tended to concentrate their attention on the building as a static object. I believe dynamics are more important: the dynamics of people, their interaction with spaces and environmental condition.” — John Portman

08 Mar 2020 — We do not architect the enterprise for ourselves but for those around us.

09 Mar 2020 — Aesthetics are as important as accuracy in the work of an architect. 

10 Mar 2020 — A good objective is to design an architecture that makes the key stakeholders happy. A strategic objective is to make the design so good that the key stakeholders get a pay rise.

11 Mar 2020 — Large consultancies can be used to fill gaps but often cost a fortune. Small consultancies are cheaper but often lack the ability to completely fill the gap or lack experience or have other drawbacks. There is a middle ground. If the budget is tight, do not use one small consultancy but three and share the work between them. If the result underperforms, replace the poorest performing consultancy. 

12 Mar 2020 — It is a common scenario: you need a component for an architecture but cannot get it because none of Procurement’s preferred supplier list carries that component and on-boarding a new supplier will take longer than the time available. The component is only a temporary problem. The long-term problem is that you need to re-architect Procurement.

13 Mar 2020 — If you create a new process that takes just as long as the current process, where will the operational staff find the time to switch? And why would they want to? What’s in it for them?

14 Mar 2020 — “The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.” — Milton Friedman

15 Mar 2020 — Business, Information, Data, Application and Infrastructure are all domains. Strategy, Governance, Risk, Compliance, Information Security and Technical Security are all cross-cutting Views of those domains. In other words, they are specific concerns that are built using a selection of objects from a mix of the domains. A set of Views of the architecture can be fundamentally important concerns that inform entire professions.

16 Mar 2020 — When you can draw an enterprise, things like the choice of EA framework become a footnote. Just as you might expect a building architect to start by drawing ideas for buildings, if you want to become an Enterprise Architect, you should start with learning how to draw an enterprise. Unlike a building architect who can begin with a pencil and paper, the prospective EA must begin with using an EA tool to model the business domain. Unlike a building architect who learns to draw physical things, the EA must learn to draw conceptual things. When you can draw an enterprise, all else follows.

17 Mar 2020 — Unlike a building architect who learns to draw physical things, an Enterprise Architect must learn to draw conceptual things. An EA needs to begin by learning how to conceptually divide an enterprise and how those concepts relate. When those concepts and relations are understood, you can begin to draw an enterprise. When you can draw an enterprise, all else follows.

18 Mar 2020 — When you can draw an enterprise, you will realise that is only the beginning. When you have created a detailed drawing of the enterprise, you will realise how much architecture there is within an enterprise. When the first major change comes, you will realise how much effort is involved in EA and its surrounding professions. When you can draw an enterprise, all else follows.

19 Mar 2020 — When you can draw a model of the enterprise, the next step on the road to becoming an Enterprise Architect is to learn to query that model. When you can start with an object on one side of the model and create a query that traces a path across to the other side of the model, you will begin to understand. When you can draw an enterprise, all else follows.

20 Mar 2020 — Architecture is the interplay of environment, vision, spaces and people. An architect is the person who can draw them; who can show others what it is possible to build; who can envision the end result and communicate it. An architect is a person who can draw the essence of the interplay in order that we might build those spaces for those people. When you can draw an enterprise, all else follows.

21 Mar 2020 — “Architecture is basically a container of something. I hope they will enjoy not so much the teacup, but the tea.” — Yoshio Taniguchi

22 Mar 2020 — The set of architectural drawings of a building are complex but a few simple drawings are often enough for people to grasp an idea of it. Even if those simple drawings can only hint at the spaces created by the building architect. It is the same in EA. Building architecture and Enterprise Architecture are about creating spaces for people. When you can draw an enterprise, all else follows.

23 Mar 2020 — Erlang was designed to program telephony switches. If a switch has 100 calls going through it, you want any crash to be limited to the call that caused the problem and the other 99 to be unaffected. If a software update needs to happen, you want all of the active calls to carry on and new calls to use the new version. If you need to carry more calls, you want to be able to just add another switch. Erlang does all that. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business, data, application, infrastructure or any other kind of architect, Erlang has lessons for you about resilience, parallelism and scalability that are worth learning.

24 Mar 2020 — Whenever someone says, “we don’t have a blame culture,” what I hear is, “no one here is accountable” and “we hide incompetence using bureaucracy and committees”. 

25 Mar 2020 — Building architecture starts with a desire to design buildings. It is rare for a good architect to come from a background of plumbing, electrical circuits or heating systems and those things are best left to experts in those domains. It is the same in Enterprise Architecture. EA starts with a desire to design businesses. It is rare for a good EA to come from a background of designing data, applications or technology and those things are best left to experts in those domains.

26 Mar 2020 — The core purpose of changing an enterprise should never be to reduce headcount and always be to increase the productivity and profitability of the employees. Headcount reduction is a failure of management and failing parts should be replaced.

27 Mar 2020 — An architecture without explicit Risk Management is like an application without error handling.

28 Mar 2020 — “The centre of Western culture is Greece, and we have never lost our ties with the architectural concepts of that ancient civilisation.” — Stephen Gardiner

29 Mar 2020 — If you cannot measure your movement towards a Risk event, you cannot control it. If you cannot control it, all you can do is control the damage once a Top Event is triggered. Measurement is key to managing Risk.

30 Mar 2020 — Top Events can often be often triggered by a combination of several different Threats. The safest way to architect management of a Risk is to build not one monolithic Control procedure for the Risk but several small Control procedures for each Threat to act as Barriers. Barriers prevent or reduce the likelihood of any individual Threat triggering a Top Event. When a new Threat is identified, it can be painful to change a monolithic procedure whereas it is often very simple to add another small Control procedure.

31 Mar 2020 — Once triggered, Top Events can lead to multiple potential Consequences. The safest way to architect management of a Risk event is to build not one monolithic Recovery procedure for the Risk but several small Recovery procedures for each potential Consequence. These act as Barriers and can be used to reduce the Impact of the Consequence or even prevent a negative Consequence which in turn can lead to a better Outcome. 

01 Apr 2020 — Whether your Barriers are human activities like procedures or technical Barriers like protective clothing, the Risk Bow Tie is probably the most effective way to architect management of a Risk. It allows you to model Risk Management in such a way that the resulting enterprise will be much safer and more resilient.

02 Apr 2020 — In 1979 at The University of Queensland in Australia, the first example of a Risk Bow Tie diagram appeared in the ICI Hazan (Hazard Analysis) course notes. It was meant for use in Oil & Gas but is excellent for modelling the architecture of any kind of Risk Management from physical safety to cyber security.

03 Apr 2020 — The ability to architect Risk Management is missing from most of the Enterprise Architecture framework metamodels. One of the primary reasons an EA would want or need to extend a metamodel is to create a Top Event metaclass that can connect to other metaclasses acting as Barriers. This in turn allows the querying of the model to show which parts of the enterprise are acting as Barriers so that any future changes continue to manage non-obvious Risk. In itself, this is part of a good Risk Management strategy.

04 Apr 2020 — “One of the biggest traps for smart engineers is optimising a thing that should not exist! The perfect part is no part.” — Elon Musk

05 Apr 2020 — The parallel between architect and enterprise architect is close enough that the definition should be almost the same. Using the Wikipedia definition, if an architect is “a person who plans, designs, and oversees the construction of buildings” then an enterprise architect isa person who plans, designs, and oversees the construction of enterprises“.

06 Apr 2020 — The map is not the territory. No matter how good your designs, operational go-live will uncover things you missed.

07 Apr 2020 — The map is not the territory. The further the objectives are into the future, the more you are dealing with probabilities rather than facts. The facts you perceive now will change. Especially if there is competition involved. Strategy is a constantly evolving plan that works with the facts you have now in order to approach the future probabilities and future facts in such a way that you achieve your objectives.

08 Apr 2020 — The map is not the territory. Just because you produce a plan does not mean it will work or even be implemented. While you were creating the plan, your competitors were creating plans of their own.

09 Apr 2020 — The map is not the territory. Operational changes to the enterprise will happen whether you know about them or not. This means the As-Is in your EA repository and models will become stale. The best way to deal with this is to democratise changes to the repository. 

10 Apr 2020 — The map is not the territory. A process should be tight enough that an inexperienced operator can learn what to do but loose enough that you don’t constrain an experienced operator or tell them how to do their job. When you map out a process, remember that it is only a map and the operator might sometimes end up in territory where that map is useless.

11 Apr 2020 — “Space has always been the spiritual dimension of architecture. It is not the physical statement of the structure so much as what it contains that moves us.” — Arthur Erickson

12 Apr 2020 — Enterprise Architecture has no professional governing body. Just like taxi driver or street-sweeper, EA is a trade not a profession. 

13 Apr 2020 — Enterprise Architecture has no professional governing body. Anyone can claim to be an Enterprise Architecture expert. This is why EA has so many frauds out to take your money for training despite them never having been an EA.

14 Apr 2020 — Enterprise Architecture has no professional governing body. That is why so many fakes with no understanding of EA can lie and call themselves an EA despite not even being able to explain the summary of the Wikipedia page on the subject.

15 Apr 2020 — Everyone makes mistakes. It is not whether you make mistakes that counts, it is whether you admit them and how you fix them. The more admissions and fixing, the fewer mistakes you will make in the future and the less fear you will have of mistakes. Become fearless. 

16 Apr 2020 — Mistakes in architecture can be costly because they are, by definition, structural to the endeavour. One of the best ways to reduce the risk involved is to build many small structures rather than a monolith.

17 Apr 2020 — It’s far cheaper to fix your architectural mistakes on paper before the build begins. However, the sooner the build happens, the sooner it starts to deliver value. Sometimes, it’s worth living with the mistake for a while.

18 Apr 2020 — “Then go as far away as possible from home to build your first buildings. The physician can bury his mistakes but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

19 Apr 2020 — In architecture, good enough is never good enough. When the deadline hits, if you’re not disappointed because you could have done more or been more elegant or made it simpler, are you growing as an architect?

20 Apr 2020 — Enterprise Architecture is a great leveller. The EA of a smaller firm can often provide insights that might never occur to the EA of a larger firm. 

21 Apr 2020 — Enterprise Architecture is one third negotiation, one third design and one third communication. We work with the stakeholders and act as a negotiator between them because there will be politics. We produce a design that makes all of the senior stakeholders happy (and as many of the other stakeholders happy as we can). We communicate that design to the stakeholders so that they understand what will be built.

22 Apr 2020 — In junior roles, you are normally sat with your peers. You can discuss your role with them and it helps you grow. One of the strange things about becoming an EA is discovering that you have far fewer peers sat with you. Discussing your role matters. Even if you can’t sit with them, even if they’re on the other side of the world, set aside some of your time to discuss architecture with other architects. Growth matters.

23 Apr 2020 — The tiniest contribution to the state of the art can ripple and build through the community. We may stand on the shoulders of giants but those giants mostly stood on the shoulders of thousands of architects just like us who proposed a modest improvement. 

24 Apr 2020 — A playful architect is more likely to develop a playful architecture. Design enterprises where you would want to work. 

25 Apr 2020 — “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

26 Apr 2020 — As a rule of thumb, Enterprise Architecture has roughly the same percentage of IT as the operating expenditure for the enterprise. If the opex is 10% IT, that’s roughly how much IT will be in the EA. If the opex is 60% IT… And so on. This causes big differences in how individual EAs understand the subject. However, no matter what the percentage, Business Architecture is still the most important part of EA. Without the business, there would be no IT architecture.

27 Apr 2020 — It is always a pleasure to explain the beauty within a design to the stakeholders. It is more pleasurable when a stakeholder points out a design feature they find beautiful without you having to tell them. But nothing beats the operational staff seeking you out to tell about the beauty of working with the result of your architecture efforts.

28 Apr 2020 — When you can combine an ability to negotiate with an ability to plan; a pursuit of beauty with a concern for others; and mix playfulness with design… Then you are at the start of the road leading to architecture. 

29 Apr 2020 — In most careers, wanting the job is far more exciting than the reality of doing the job. Architecture is one of the few where the job is just as exciting as wanting it. And architecture gets better the longer you do it.

30 Apr 2020 — An individual architecture may be complex but the subject itself is built by combining thousands of small, simple ideas.

01 May 2020 — A good architect does more than build beauty into a design. They also build beauty into the way they communicate that design to others.

02 May 2020 — “My passion and great enjoyment for architecture, and the reason the older I get the more I enjoy it, is because I believe we – architects – can effect the quality of life of the people.” — Richard Rogers

03 May 2020 — You can only design a beautiful system if you understand its environment. The design will only truly be beautiful if it does more than interact with its environment; it must also make the environment more beautiful.

04 May 2020 — The most flexible actor in an environment is often the most successful. The actor that can be flexible in more than one environment is more powerful still.

05 May 2020 — The most flexible actor in an environment may often be the most successful but the actor that is highly optimised for that environment is often the most profitable. Architecture helps to find a compromise between those two positions. 

06 May 2020 — If you think of an enterprise as a system in its environment, you’re only seeing half the picture. An enterprise is also an actor in its environment.

07 May 2020 — The environment of an enterprise is not a static thing. The environment is packed with customers, competitors, partners, suppliers, regulators and many other kinds of actor. All of those actors have their own interests, goals, strategies, principles, capabilities and flaws which often conflict with ours.

08 May 2020 — The environment of an enterprise is packed with actors whose interests will often conflict with ours which means we need to approach that environment in a flexible way. Thinking of the enterprise in terms of its Resources, Competencies and Capabilities helps to quickly describe that flexible way.

09 May 2020 — “Architecture is not an inspirational business, it’s a rational procedure to do sensible and hopefully beautiful things; that’s all.” — Harry Seidler

10 May 2020 — If you have someone under you who shows all the signs of being able to overtake you, do your utmost to mentor that person. You can do this with an utterly selfish motivation. If they really are talented, sooner or later, they’ll hit a ceiling because there are no vacancies above and they’ll move to another company. If they are ever asked, “is there anyone we should try to headhunt?” Who is the first person they’ll talk about? A boss who kept them down or the one who believed in and mentored them?

11 May 2020 — A fifty-person enterprise is fundamentally different from a fifty-thousand-person enterprise and EA claims to be able to describe either in a useful way. Yet it lacks terms to express the dynamism found in the small companies and that dynamism frequently comes from avoiding things like formal EA. Do you understand why that is so and why it makes EA essential in the larger enterprise? 

12 May 2020 — One of the easiest traps to get caught in as an architect is thinking that you know a subject. Every concept we use, every resource available and even architecture itself is under constant improvement. And they are also under constant assault from the noise of those who don’t understand them. Under those kinds of shifting conditions, what better way is there to improve your understanding than to draw parallels with building architecture?

13 May 2020 — If architecting an enterprise does not lead you to wanting to architect your own home, are you in the right business?

14 May 2020 — To understand Enterprise Architecture, you need to understand business and IT. And how to describe a business and its IT. And how those two can be aligned. And how to transform both the business and its IT. And be competent enough that the leaders of an enterprise take you seriously when millions are on the line. At the moment, that takes decades of experience. If we could compress those decades to a few years, should we do it? What would it mean for the entrepreneurs of the future if we could teach the basics in schools?

15 May 2020 — The short path to becoming an Enterprise Architect is probably to work with business and IT stakeholders to model the entire enterprise in a good EA tool. While you’re doing that, edit the metamodel to fit the business not the other way around. Learn how to query that model using its query language as you help business and IT stakeholders plan changes to the enterprise. Make a library of thousands of queries. Use the model to try out ideas. Keep the model up to date. Help the programme managers to design programmes. Learn as much as you can about the business and about the broad strokes of businesses. Learn about what IT is doing for the business and what new trends might help the business. Ten years of that is the short path.

16 May 2020 — “One department will design to the constraints that the other department has given them without questioning the constraint. It’s best to take the approach that the constraint is guaranteed to be some degree wrong.” — Elon Musk

17 May 2020 — Is an Enterprise Architect who cannot code like a building architect who cannot lay a brick? If it’s true, does it matter?

18 May 2020 — One of the most mundane tasks in Enterprise Modelling is replacing an old artefact with a new artefact and then having to rewire all of the connections. It’s something that you could train an AI to do. It would be quicker and more accurate. Now take that idea of something you have had to suffer and look out into the business. How many mundane but essential tasks could be replaced by an AI? How much drudge-work can you get rid of to free people up to do more enjoyable, productive and profitable things?

19 May 2020 — When you deploy an AI to take over some mundane drudge-work, the last thing you want on your conscience is the idea that you are getting people fired. Spend as much time as you can with their management figuring out new things for those people to do. Every manager has things they would do to improve the business if more people were available. What better way to make sure your conscience is clean than ensuring the people who previously had to do a boring task get new tasks that are more interesting, productive and profitable? 

20 May 2020 — One of the major problems with Enterprise Architecture is that the enterprise is far too complex for any one person to understand. If you model the entire enterprise, how many potential optimisations would an AI find?

21 May 2020 — If you only read, you will never gain experience. If you only do, you may never understand. If you read and do, you will become experienced. But it is only when you write and let your peers shoot down your bad ideas that you can become an expert.

22 May 2020 — Are you a less-is-more architect or a less-is-a-bore architect?

23 May 2020 — “Architecture can’t fully represent the chaos and turmoil that are part of the human personality, but you need to put some of that turmoil into the architecture, or it isn’t real.” — Frank Stella

24 May 2020 — Some say there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Looking back, I disagree. I’ve asked a lot of stupid questions in my time. Aren’t they one of the ways you learn enough to start asking smarter questions?

25 May 2020 — One of the most important things you can do is learn your Enterprise Architecture tool query language so that you can quickly assess impacts. If the tool doesn’t have a query language, is it really an EA tool?

26 May 2020 — When the exec hums a tune, the EA turns it into a score for the whole orchestra. Project Management buys the instruments, lessons and books the venue. When it comes time for the performance, management conducts and the operational staff play the instruments. All in order to entertain the customers. 

27 May 2020 — When the exec hums a tune, the EA turns it into a score for the whole orchestra. But that’s not even close to the most common way a score is created or improved.

28 May 2020 — When the exec hums a tune, the EA turns it into a score for the whole orchestra. However, a particularly talented player can make part of the performance worth emphasising. A talented conductor, the manager of the orchestra, can make all the difference. A new instrument may allow the orchestra to try new music. In other words, sometimes the orchestra dictates the score to the EA and gives the exec a new tune to hum. 

29 May 2020 — When the exec hums a tune, the EA turns it into a score for the whole orchestra. But most of the time, the exec is far more interested in whether the audience is being entertained by the current score, investors for a larger orchestra, trying to get a bigger audience and what competing orchestras are playing.

30 May 2020 — “To work in architecture you are so much involved with society, with politics, with bureaucrats. It’s a very complicated process to do large projects. You start to see the society, how it functions, how it works. Then you have a lot of criticism about how it works.” — Ai Weiwei

31 May 2020 — Of the many people with a job title with “architect” in it, how many really are one? As it all stems from building architecture, let’s take the Wikipedia definition and go from there. “An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings.” So we can go to something like, “an architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of XYZs” and it should still be valid. If you want to find out if someone really is an enterprise architect, just ask them, “can you show me how to draw an enterprise?”

01 Jun 2020 — According to the Wikipedia definition, “An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings.” If you ask a building architect to show you the designs for a building, they can do so. If you want to know whether an Enterprise Architect is genuine, ask them to show you the designs for an enterprise.

02 Jun 2020 — According to the Wikipedia definition, “An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings.” An Enterprise Architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of enterprises. Neither kind of architect is a bureaucrat.

03 Jun 2020 — According to the Wikipedia definition, “An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings.” An Enterprise Architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of enterprises. Both kinds of architect need to be expert at navigating through bureaucratic rules without breaking them.

04 Jun 2020 — If you ask a building architect to show you the designs for a building, anyone can look at those designs and see the building. It is a core aim of Enterprise Architecture that, one day, anyone will be able to look at the designs and see the enterprise.

05 Jun 2020 — There are two main kinds of architecture work: new business strategy and optimisation of existing business strategy. Ideas for new business are normally plentiful and potentially high reward but also high risk; optimisation is lower reward but also low risk. One of the best places to start looking for potential optimisations is to ask, “who is frustrated that their people cannot be as productive as they’d like?”

06 Jun 2020 — “Look, architecture has a lot of places to hide behind, a lot of excuses. ‘The client made me do this.’ ‘The city made me do this.’ ‘Oh, the budget.’ I don’t believe that anymore.” — Frank Gehry

07 Jun 2020 — An architect needs to understand the concept of spaces. When you understand spaces, you understand that’s where the people reside. Architects who don’t understand spaces design boring sausage factories; crank the handle and out comes another sausage; horrible, deterministic places where the people don’t matter and it’s all about treating them like machines. Architects who understand spaces design for people and their talents. 

08 Jun 2020 — Think of EA as like designing a commercial kitchen. We don’t need to know how to cook because that’s the chef’s job. We don’t design the chef or tell them how to do their job. We provide a layout that flows for the chef and a space that’s conducive to their talent. We make sure there is a clear flow from the kitchen to the restaurant. We source tools and gadgets to help the chef make the most of their talent.  

09 Jun 2020 — Because EA started in IT, a lot of IT people seem to think it stayed there. How did they miss that three-quarters of EA is now about the business?

10 Jun 2020 — While building architects create physical spaces and deal with physical flow, despite the fact that most EA is notional rather than physical, the same principals apply in Enterprise Architecture. It is important that the architect provides a notional space that is conducive to bringing out the best of operational staff’s talent. The architecture must also flow from one area to the next in almost the same way as building architecture.

11 Jun 2020 — Take a long, hard look at your Enterprise Architecture meta model. If it doesn’t include the ability to specify reports, measures and indicators, it means your architects may only produce them as an afterthought. A strong enterprise is designed from the start with KPIs in mind.

12 Jun 2020 — A strong enterprise is designed from the start with KPIs in mind because those form the core of understanding if the enterprise is meeting its business objectives.

13 Jun 2020 — “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” — Galileo Galilei

14 Jun 2020 — Although building architecture and enterprise architecture have many parallels, they very obviously design different things. While building architects design 3D/4D physical constructs, EA has to contend with n-dimensional notional constructs. The untrained human brain is not cut out to do it. To that end, it’s worth bearing in mind the story of the 2D creature and the apple. It cannot see the apple all in one go. However, if you drop the apple through the 2D creature’s plane of existence, it will see slices of the apple as it passes. EA is much the same. We cannot see all n-dimensions of an enterprise in one go but we can see representational slices of it.

15 Jun 2020 — There’s a lot of fuss made over the concept of Service but, when you boil it right down, a Service is just a Process with a tightly-defined interface. Which means Service is redundant because all of your Processes should have tightly-defined interfaces.

16 Jun 2020 — Architecture is a way to design and build a more effective club with which to beat a market.

17 Jun 2020 — Architecture is used to provide shelter for its inhabitants so that they can take better advantage of their environment.

18 Jun 2020 — If you think that Enterprise Architecture is about IT, your attempts at digital transformation will almost certainly fail.

19 Jun 2020 — Enterprise Architecture is like riding a bicycle. No amount of reading or sitting in a classroom will get you there. You have to ride the bicycle. If you’re lucky, you’ll be mentored by an experienced EA who will put some stabilisers on your first bicycle and be there to catch you when the stabilisers come off.

20 Jun 2020 — “God created paper for the purpose of drawing architecture on it. Everything else is, at least for me, an abuse of paper.” — Alvar Aalto

21 Jun 2020 — A Business Architect’s focus is outwards from the enterprise into the markets, looking through the lens of the business model. An Enterprise Architect’s focus is inside the enterprise, looking through the lens of the operating model. For successful digital transformation, you need both.

22 Jun 2020 — Enterprise Architecture should be feared by bureaucrats. There is nothing better than EA to show how to remove bureaucracy from an enterprise.

23 Jun 2020 — As long as the markets keep changing, the work of an Enterprise Architect will never be finished.

24 Jun 2020 — Enterprise Architecture provides a seamless way to develop and link Business Strategy, Business Planning, Business Operations and Business Transformation.

25 Jun 2020 — The point of being an Enterprise Architect is to help those in charge of the enterprise transform it in the most focussed way in order to deliver more value.

26 Jun 2020 — If someone who calls themselves an Enterprise Architect cannot model an enterprise, how are they an architect? How are they not just a bureaucrat with an opinion?

27 Jun 2020 — “Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.” — Le Corbusier

28 Jun 2020 — A Business Architect deals with the flow of business. A Process Architect deals with the flow of activities. A Data Architect deals with the flow of data. An Application Architect deals with the processing of data. An Infrastructure Architect provides a place for the data and applications. Analysts fill in the details. An Enterprise Architect makes sure they can all work as one.

29 Jun 2020 — There is a horrible tendency in IT departments to give senior Business Analysts the job title “Business Architect” and senior IT architects the title “Enterprise Architect”. This shows a complete ignorance of what those job titles entail because neither are IT roles. It says very little about the capability of that person apart from them being willing to accept a title without knowing the profession. Hopefully one day they really will deserve that title. However, it does say an awful lot about the hubris of IT departments. 

30 Jun 2020 — The operating model is how the ship is run; how the engines work, how they are maintained, what the crew is expected to do, what equipment is needed and so on. The business model is how the ship turns a profit; what cargo it will carry, which ports it will visit, its customers, its suppliers, its business partners and so on.

01 Jul 2020 — Enterprise Architecture might be better called Business Operations Design and Transformation in a Digital Age. Only that’s a bit of a mouthful.

02 Jul 2020 — Enterprise Architecture is the most focussed way we currently know to transform an enterprise. It leaves little to chance and ensures that the whole thing is measurable. It prevents top-down strategy from being misunderstood as it travels down. It allows bottom-up promotion of things that will impact the strategy. It gets everyone moving in lock-step.

03 Jul 2020 — Some people ask if Enterprise Architecture is dead. Do those people even know what EA is? Why does EA have so many claims to its name from people who have no idea how to architect an enterprise?

04 Jul 2020 — “Think about what happens when architecture becomes ruins. All you have left are some little columns on a cliff, but it’s still such an overwhelming experience that you could say architecture is that which makes ruins beautiful.” — Santiago Calatrava

05 Jul 2020 — One of the most difficult places to start a journey to Enterprise Architecture is from the IT department. In IT, you are are trained to think about the business as information and its flow. To understand EA, you need to think about the business as business. If you are in IT and want to become an EA, forget going on a TOGAF course, go on an MBA course.

06 Jul 2020 — No building architect ever chose that profession because they wanted to learn the ins and outs of local planning law. They chose it because they love buildings. Love designing buildings. Love drawing buildings. Love seeing the finished result. Love seeing the people who enter the building gain strong, positive emotions. An Enterprise Architect needs to be the same. Love business. Love modelling the business operations. Love designing new business operations. Love seeing the finished result. Love seeing the people who operate the business gain strong, positive emotions.

07 Jul 2020 — A market is where people trade. That means they can be formed not just from customers but also suppliers, job applicants, partners, wholesalers and even competitors. Markets are part of the environment of an enterprise.

08 Jul 2020 — Strategy is saying, unless circumstances change, this is what I plan to do. Circumstances almost always change. 

09 Jul 2020 — Strategy is a long-term plan. The further into the future the plan goes, the more it is about probability than certainty.

10 Jul 2020 — Strategy is your plan for the future. Tactics are the actions you perform to realise part of the plan.

11 Jul 2020 — “The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.” — Thomas a Kempis

12 Jul 2020 — How do you know if you’re an IT architect or an Enterprise Architect? Take a look at the things and the relationships in the TOGAF metamodel:
IT architects learn those things to deliver IT systems. Enterprise Architects design those things.

13 Jul 2020 — Capabilities are not how you do something, they are what you can do with the processes and resources you have. If you have a boat, a crew, know how to sail and know how to navigate, you have resources, competent talent and relevant processes. Is that the same as having the Capability to cross an ocean?

14 Jul 2020 — Enterprise Architecture is a formalisation of many of the business change and business transformation practices that have gone before. It makes almost all of them redundant.

15 Jul 2020 — In Enterprise Architecture, the more work you do with the business to re/design parts of the operations, the more familiar you are with the architecture of the enterprise, the more effective your changes to the enterprise are likely to be and the better advice you can offer to those wanting to improve it. An EA who knows all of the Level 0-2 is useful. An EA who also understands most of core from Level 0 down to Level 5 is unstoppable.

16 Jul 2020 — If new regulations are coming into force and you need to change the business to meet those regulations, that makes them the top-level requirements.

17 Jul 2020 — One of the more surprising things about the title Enterprise Architect is that, despite EA’s grandiose name, Business Architect is a more senior role. That’s because Business Architecture is an approach for the exec rather than a job title. It is quite possible for an enterprise to be fully engaged in the Business Architecture approach without having anyone with the title Business Architect.

18 Jul 2020 — “Architecture is a rare collective profession: it’s always exercised by groups. There is an essential modesty, which is a complete contradiction to the notion of a star.” — Rem Koolhaas

19 Jul 2020 — If you work with several different customers on their enterprise architecture, it quickly becomes apparent that there are distinct patterns that all enterprises follow to a greater or lesser degree. These patterns are mostly within the Support Functions — the parts of the enterprise that exist to support the work in Core. How long will it be before much of Support follows exactly the same design across all enterprises?

20 Jul 2020 — Digital Transformation is not about IT. A company could easily ditch its entire IT department as part of its Digital Transformation strategy. It might even be the best option.

21 Jul 2020 — A lot of junior architects are confused by the difference between the business model and a model of the business. The business model is the approach to doing business, e.g. it might be retail, manufacturing or transport; despite its name, there is no modelling involved. A model of the business is a description of the people, processes, IT, etc.; this is the one that involves modelling.

22 Jul 2020 — If someone offers you Enterprise Architecture training, ask them what other courses the trainer delivers. If none of them are business courses, you should probably find a different trainer.

23 Jul 2020 — Different teams often use the same word to mean significantly different things. The language of Enterprise Architecture is the language of business because EA exists to serve the business. A term used in business will often conflict with how a team uses the same term. To be a good EA, you need to understand the terms used across all of the business and be able to translate. 

24 Jul 2020 — Digital Transformation is about changing the business model of the enterprise. Although it will involve moving to one or more digital platforms, very few enterprise IT departments have the required skills and might well find themselves with less work rather than more. Unless they already have the skills, the IT department is unlikely to have input to the transformation of the business model.

25 Jul 2020 — “The whole point of a leader is that you don’t know what the right answer is but somebody has got to make the decision. You don’t know and you still have to make a decision. So do you ding the leader if they get it wrong? In the real world you do. But it’s not really leadership if you know what the right answer is. It’s the not knowing that makes it impressive.” — Scott Adams

26 Jul 2020 — Its misnaming of Business Architecture is one of the bigger flaws and really highlights that TOGAF is IT architecture with delusions of grandeur. What it calls Business Architecture would be almost unrecognisable to a Business Architect. If it had been process-oriented, its proper name would be Process Architecture but TOGAF is service-oriented so its proper name is Service Architecture. Neither of those have much to do with Business Architecture.

27 Jul 2020 — If you have never used an EA tool to edit a metamodel, you almost certainly do not know what a metamodel is or does. Like so many things in Enterprise Architecture, you need to ride the bicycle because no amount of reading about it or training courses will teach you how to ride.

28 Jul 2020 — There’s a mental shortcut that some people take which is to think their opinions are facts. They think they’re a good person with honest intentions and have made a diligent effort to learn a topic so would only hold an opinion if it were based on facts. Psychologically, they even store opinions and facts in the same part of their brain. It’s a shortcut because it can allow more rapid assimilation of data and faster decision making. Unfortunately, it completely distorts their view of the world and limits their success because, being human, they misunderstand some of the data they try to assimilate. Present them with a fact that upsets enough of their opinions and their brain simply cannot assimilate it. If you think this might describe you, learn to separate opinions from facts; keep them close but distinctly separated in your mind. It’s either that or recognise that everything you think is a fact is just an opinion based on partial or misunderstood data.

29 Jul 2020 — Enterprise Architecture is a team sport. There is too much in an enterprise for any single architect to lay claim to it all. 

30 Jul 2020 — Enterprise Architecture can only architect at the process level of its most senior practitioner. At least one architect needs to be working at level 2 or above to get any significant sight of potential business optimisations, process reuse or strategic impacts. Anything below that is not really EA even though it may be a useful start.

31 Jul 2020 — There are many schools of thought on Process Levels but each of them follows a broadly similar pattern. My training was for Level 0-5 but some say 1-6 or A-F. More levels become difficult to manage; fewer only works in small companies. Level 0 is a view of the entire enterprise; the core value streams and the support process groups, i.e. it’s a view of what the enterprise does from the perspective of the board. Level 5 is view of manual activities carried out by individuals, i.e. this is where you find flowcharts. When you are looking to learn more about Process Architecture, be warned that Process has the same problem as Capability — there are probably more pretenders out there than the real thing. You need to get your knowledge from proper Process experts not blogs. 

01 Aug 2020 — “People outside the profession of architecture perhaps often lack the understanding of how their physical environment comes into being. What are the processes, the concerns and considerations? What are the parameters that shape the world around them?” — Bjarke Ingels

02 Aug 2020 — Although the broad strokes of Enterprise Architecture are well known, the Enterprise Architect is more difficult to pin down. This is because the role requires a huge range of skills and no two architects are the same. There is no set background, domain, industry or profession. The enterprises where they grow their skills vary enormously. There are few other roles that are capable of harnessing such diverse talents and putting them to such productive use. Every architect brings their own style to EA.

03 Aug 2020 — Value is not the same as profit but if you generate no value, you will generate no profit.

04 Aug 2020 — Value Streams are the broad strokes of the core business. In contrast to a Process which tells you how something is done, a Value Stream tells you what value is generated.

05 Aug 2020 — In a lot of companies, there is no meaningful end-to-end process for a product. If your product has 100 components, you buy half and manufacture the other half yourself, do you have any idea where the process to make that product starts? Do you show the start points from a dozen different departments? What about the design of the product and components or the research that led to the design? Value Streams help make sense of situations like that.

06 Aug 2020 — Two different Value Streams can show the same part of Core from different perspectives. For instance, one Value Stream can show where the value is created for the board and shareholders while a different Value Stream can look at the same parts of the business to show where it creates value for the customer.

07 Aug 2020 — Where a Process Group tends to be strongly aligned to a particular part of the organisation and often has employees directly responsible for it, a Value Stream can completely ignore the organisation structure and is often much better for it.

08 Aug 2020 — “The difference between architecture and engineering comes in only with the creation of schools. It’s a bureaucratic distinction. The result of both disciplines is the construction of objects in a landscape.” — Santiago Calatrava

09 Aug 2020 — High quality Enterprise Architecture is hard. Do the difficult stuff that sometimes keeps you awake at night because nobody else can do it. Carry the burden because your hard work will make life easier for hundreds of your fellow employees.

10 Aug 2020 — On a building site, the architect is accountable for the design; the master builder is accountable for the build; the project manager is accountable for the budget and getting the right trades/materials on site on the the right days; and the customer is the ultimate decision maker. All of them must work together for a successful build. Is Enterprise Architecture any different?

11 Aug 2020 — In building architecture, the architect produces the design but the customer makes the decisions. Only it’s not that simple. The customer cannot easily decide where the services come onto the site. The customer cannot decide to overrule local planning law. The customer cannot decide on something structurally unsound. The customer cannot decide to have a £2m building on an £200k budget. The truth is that the customer can only decide on surface level things like the floorplan, shape and materials. Even then, a good architect guides the customer through those decisions.

12 Aug 2020 — In building architecture, the flow from one space to the next is a major concern. On a three dimension object, that requires serious talent or serious technique. One of the easier techniques is to create the initial flow in multiple two dimensional floorplans and join them. That works for three dimensions but in Enterprise Architecture we are dealing with n-dimensional objects. For those, the easiest technique is to identify all of an object’s connections and follow specific flows to other objects.

13 Aug 2020 — To design an enterprise where 5000 people work, how many architects do you need? To design a building where 5000 people work, how many building architects would you need?

14 Aug 2020 — The most successful building architects are the ones who regularly put on their boots and head onto site to check the progress. They talk to the builders, the PM and the customer. As the build progresses, new things come to light and the architect can adjust the plans to take advantage of them. A good Enterprise Architect does the same. Get your boots on because you can’t think of everything beforehand.

15 Aug 2020 — “I’ve always thought that design can have equal importance to the idea of internal architecture. Professionally, things can be very dogmatic – you do the architecture, someone else does the interiors, someone else does the furniture, the fabric, etc. But I think design is all-encompassing.” — Zaha Hadid

16 Aug 2020 — Architecture is the art of providing a vision so compelling that the customer is willing to pay to have it built.

17 Aug 2020 — The greater the difference between the operating model and the target operating model, the more complex the projects will be to deliver the change.

18 Aug 2020 — An architectural design shows the stakeholders what will be built. Some of those stakeholders will be from the Project Management team. The design needs to not only show them what to deliver but also give them an idea about the order to deliver it.

19 Aug 2020 — While an architect needs to have strong communication with the Project Management team and show them what needs to be delivered, it is the job of the build team to decide how to build those deliverables.

20 Aug 2020 — Is a project just a Process that you only follow once?

21 Aug 2020 — Projects and Processes are both types of business activity and have a lot in common. Even when they’re not officially Agile, Projects often have to be agile in the flexible, changing sense. Can a Process be the same?

22 Aug 2020 — “I realized that I loved using computers to create something, but being an architect just wasn’t going to keep me interested. The idea of a life spent obsessing over bathroom details for an Upper East Side penthouse was pretty depressing.” — Joseph Kosinski

23 Aug 2020 — One of the main reasons to use Enterprise Architecture is that there is currently nothing better for re/designing the operating model of a business. The choice is either EA or back to top-down decree by business managers where the chance of them understanding what goes on outside of their silo is small. That break from silos is one of the key innovations of EA. Even if you only use it to map and reduce duplication of effort across the enterprise, that can pay for the EA team ten times over.

24 Aug 2020 — There are two fundamental types of business management: strategic and operational. Strategy is what you intend to do and operations are what you do day-to-day. Enterprise Architecture is an efficient way to understand how to turn strategy into operations. It does that by designing future operations that enable the strategy. Those designs can be implemented by projects. 

25 Aug 2020 — One of the biggest hindrances to process design and improvement is the flowchart. Processes are not 2-dimensional. Vast amounts of time is wasted trying to re/design processes to fit on a piece of paper. One day we’ll find a better way.

26 Aug 2020 — One of the big dangers of Enterprise Architecture is that it is a Support function. In other words, it’s not a Core part of the business. That can skew it towards favouring transformation and optimisation of other Support functions. If you want your EA practice to carry weight, it needs to have most of its focus on Core.

27 Aug 2020 — There is a theoretically perfect Enterprise Architecture role then there is reality. You might never find a genuine EA role or practice because of the legacy of all the roles and talents that went before. But shouldn’t that only make you more determined to get it closer to perfect for those that follow you?

28 Aug 2020 — If an object type sits in a single domain, it is entirely up to the owners of that domain what that object represents. The owners of the IT domain decide what the word Application means. The owners of the business domain decide what the word Function means. And so on. 

29 Aug 2020 — “It was the drawing that led me to architecture, the search for light and astonishing forms.” — Oscar Niemeyer

30 Aug 2020 — There seems to be some confusion about top-down, bottom-up and middle-out transformation. Top-down everyone gets; that’s when the board or someone close to the top decides a strategy and people below are expected to implement it. Middle-out is when a change decided by mid-level managers or an external stakeholder means that the strategy has to change; e.g. mid-level management introduces a better way of working so the business can do more or a regulator changes the law and the company has to comply. Then we get to bottom-up which seems to confuse those with no knowledge of business. It does not mean junior workers creating the strategy or making business decisions. Just like the others, in bottom-up the board still runs the business and makes all of the strategic decisions but something very low down in the company is of strategic importance. The classic example is Google which was built bottom-up based on its search algorithm. Not the web search page — that came later — the algorithm. That algorithm dictated Google’s early strategy for almost a decade.

31 Aug 2020 — One of the big dangers of top-down strategy is the exec not knowing the business well enough to understand the impact that the new strategy will have lower down. Of there being not just one but a whole host of devils in the details. This has traditionally led to the exec making broad decisions that are passed down and become more precise as they are interpreted by steadily more junior managers. In many businesses, this meant a strategy gently fizzling out as it reached the bottom and managers protected the business from a bad or overly expensive idea. Strategies that fizzle out like that often cost millions and can prove to be a major distraction. And, of course, if the exec had known it was a bad idea, they would not have proposed the strategy. Enterprise Architecture reduces the chances of bad strategic decisions like that by providing rapid impact assessments for the exec and allowing more junior management to provide feedback before the millions are spent.

01 Sep 2020 — There are employees who can engineer parts of a business, employees who can explain its narrative, employees who find poetry in the business, employees who can make parts of the business sing, employees who have vision and employees who can explain the emotions they want the business to generate. An architect must be all of those people and more.

02 Sep 2020 — Designing a business to operate in a competitive market has less to do with efficient architecture and more to do with image. Even culture plays a minor role in comparison with the products and services you offer to customers. Though it’s preferable, the products and services don’t even have to be good they just have to be saleable. When it comes down to it, business is a popularity contest. 

03 Sep 2020 — Resource-based View (RBV) is one of the mainstays of business understanding:
If your exec uses RBV but your As-Is model cannot be queried in such a way as to produce a resource-based view of your enterprise, what use is your model? What use is your EA team to the exec?

04 Sep 2020 — One of the core parts of Process Architecture is the idea of Levels — that an enterprise should be divided into Levels 0-6 or equivalent. There is no doubt that this makes architecture easier, cleaner and more rigorous. But it also usually means a big disparity with the organigram. Which leads to the obvious question of which one is wrong?

05 Sep 2020 — “I love building spaces: architecture, furniture, all of it, probably more than fashion. The development procedure is more tactile. It’s about space and form and it’s something you can share with other people.” — Donna Karan

06 Sep 2020 — The metaassociations between metaclasses in a metamodel need to reflect real associations between things in your business. If it’s valid to say, “the Finance Department uses SAP” then that must be something that can be expressed in your As-Is model and that means your metaassociations need to handle it. However, that does not mean your metaassociations need to handle it directly, it only means you must be able to express it in your EA tool’s query language.

07 Sep 2020 — The more complicated your metamodel, the more likely your architecture team is to become bogged down in bureaucracy. The more simple your metamodel, the less useful it becomes. Is the balance between those two points different in every enterprise?

08 Sep 2020 — If your metamodel doesn’t include the concept of Resources, you cannot model most businesses. There are the Resources you acquire in order for your business to operate such as raw materials, supplies, etc. and there are the Resource assets you have within your business in order to operate such as machinery and production lines. Some of these Resources should have specific metaclasses if they are of particular importance to your enterprise.

09 Sep 2020 — How important is it to have an As-Is model when the intention is to transform the business? As with so many things in Enterprise Architecture, the answer is, it depends. If your main aim is to reuse existing resources and the change is requested by stakeholders involved in its operation, you may be able to safely skip an As-Is if the stakeholders are experts on the As-Is and know where they want to go. 

10 Sep 2020 — If the stakeholders don’t care about the As-Is, should the architect? Almost every time. The As-Is forms an essential part of what you need to understand in order transform part of the business. Can you change something if you don’t know what it is?

11 Sep 2020 — Architecture is not like engineering. When you are an engineer, you design a system so it that works well. When you are an architect, you design a business so that its people can work well.

12 Sep 2020 — “I believe that architecture, as anything else in life, is evolutionary. Ideas evolve; they don’t come from outer space and crash into the drawing board.” — Bjarke Ingels

13 Sep 2020 — Enterprise Architecture is a rare and strange profession. When you understand it, you understand the need for it. You wonder how any enterprise managed to succeed when it was informal; before EA was a thing. Yet they did. And they could go back to having informal EA; have an inefficient but coherent agreement amongst business operations managers as to how they would interoperate and follow standards. But any business that tries to go back will be at a huge disadvantage to those enterprises that use EA as the approach to turn strategy into execution.

14 Sep 2020 — A building architect produces designs that answer the need for a space for a purpose.
An IT architect produces designs that answer the need for data to be processed for a purpose.
A data architect produces designs that answer the need for data to be organised for a purpose.
A solution architect produces designs that answer the need for an IT system for a purpose.
An infrastructure architect produces designs that answer the need for IT hardware for a purpose.
A process architect produces designs that answer the need for a business activity model for a purpose.
A business architect produces designs that answer the need for a business model for a purpose.
An enterprise architect produces designs that answer the need for a business operating model for a purpose.

15 Sep 2020 — If you want to go from IT architecture to Enterprise Architecture, you need to ask yourself, are you are a people person? Do you enjoy spending time with the people outside of IT and do they enjoy spending time with you? Do you enjoy working on business problems at least as much as IT problems? Not just giving an opinion, anyone can do that, but doing the work of finding ways to change business operations and improve your colleagues’ productivity even if there’s no IT involved? You need to answer these honestly because most good IT architects find IT far more enjoyable than EA.

16 Sep 2020 — Beware of Enterprise Architects who come bearing the full set of EA lingo and use it to claim superiority. While an architect should understand the lingo, the ones who abuse it rarely have any understanding of it. Do they really understand EA or are they just using the lingo to create a cult or an ivory tower? In my experience, the deeper the abuse of the EA lingo, the more likely you are to be dealing with someone trying to hide the fact that they don’t understand EA.

17 Sep 2020 — “Premature optimization is the root of all evil.” — Sir Tony Hoare
It was said about programming and may also be true in Enterprise Architecture. At a high level, you should avoid optimisation until you know that the operating model is delivering value. At a low level, the more you optimise, the more the people employed in that part of the business become specialised and that often makes future change more difficult. In programming, you can replace code or revert to an older version; the program doesn’t care. The same is not true for people.

18 Sep 2020 — Some people who claim to be experts in EA or the title Enterprise Architect are nothing of the sort but are just trying to protect their income. Be different from those people. If you want to protect your income, by far the most effective way is to put the effort in to become good at your profession and work at it conscientiously.

19 Sep 2020 — “With a painter or a sculptor, one cannot begin to alter his works, but an architect has to put up with anything, because he makes utility objects — the building is there to be used, and times change.” — Arne Jacobsen

20 Sep 2020 — Anyone can look at an attractive building and tell you what part they find most architecturally beautiful. To find architectural beauty in an enterprise is more of a challenge. To find the beauty in an enterprise, you have to understand them. Look at an enterprise you admire and model the part that you find the most attractive. Keep adding detail to the model until you can see how you would do it. Update your model if you find out they do it differently. Make lots more models of lots of different enterprises that you admire. You will see things that surprise you. You will see the importance of a detail that perhaps only you and the architects of that enterprise understand is important. You will begin to see beauty in enterprises.

21 Sep 2020 — Engineers design systems. Architects assemble systems and people so the people can achieve things. It is not the systems but the people and achievements that are important.

22 Sep 2020 — TOGAF is an Enterprise Architecture *framework*. A TOGAF course does not teach you to be an enterprise architect in the same way that a Software Development Lifecycle Management course does not teach you to be a software architect.

23 Sep 2020 — When you’re trying to learn Enterprise Architecture, there seems to be so much complexity. However, that’s an illusion. There’s a lot to EA but most of it is pretty simple. The trouble is that there are a lot of “experts” who only understand part of it and will try to blind you with technobabble. Here’s one way you can learn the basic mindset in a few minutes:
Go get some of your kids’ Lego and divide it up into the different colours/shapes of blocks
Look at the metamodel below or the TOGAF metamodel here:
For each block in the metamodel, you can have one type of Lego block
The lines in the metamodel are the rules for what blocks are allowed to attach to what other blocks
Now build something

24 Sep 2020 — Here’s another way you can learn the basic mindset of Enterprise Architecture that takes you a tiny bit deeper than yesterday’s. Again in a few minutes:
Print out a copy of the metamodel above or the TOGAF metamodel ( stretched so it fills the page
Think of a Process in your enterprise — e.g. New Employee Induction — and write it in the Process block
Think of who is involved in that process. Follow the lines and write their names in the Org. Unit block
Think of what applications are used. Follow the lines and write them in the Application block
Keep going until you’ve filled in several of the other blocks

25 Sep 2020 — Here’s another way you can learn the basic mindset of Enterprise Architecture that takes you a tiny bit deeper still than yesterday’s. Again in a few minutes:
Get some PostIt notes
Print out two copies of the metamodel above or the TOGAF metamodel ( stretched so that they fill the page
Write your name on a PostIt and stick it on the Org. Unit block on the printout
Follow the lines and think of all the processes you are involved in, write each on a separate PostIt and stick them on the Process block on the printout
Follow the line and think of the applications you use. Write each on a separate PostIt and stick them on the Application block
Keep going until you’ve filled in several of the blocks
Now pick the most commonly used application and move its PostIt to the other metamodel sheet
Make PostIts for as many of the processes it is involved in as you can think of

26 Sep 2020 — “If the design is taking too long, the design is wrong.” — Elon Musk

27 Sep 2020 — Hard rules are for robots. There may be boundaries but there are no hard rules for stakeholders or architects. Boundaries are what limit the scope of your work but you are free to be creative inside them. 

28 Sep 2020 — Digital Transformation means moving away from traditional approaches to business. You don’t just create a web presence to sell your services and products, you create a web platform. If you create a platform for your customers, it should also be a platform for your suppliers. If your platform manages part of your customers’ or suppliers’ business, open it up to allow them to create apps for the platform. Open that up even further to allow them to sell that app to other users of your platform. Take a cut of that sale. If you do that before your competitors and do it well enough, sooner or later your competitors will face the terrible choice: either a massive cost to take back market share or the admission of defeat by moving onto your platform. If you wait until after your competitors have done it, it will be you facing that terrible choice.

29 Sep 2020 — Business Strategy is a set of objectives that the business wants to achieve. Enterprise Architecture can produce designs of the business that can achieve those objectives. If everyone agrees on a design, EA can show what projects are needed so the business can change itself to match the design. This is the fundamental idea of strategy to execution.

30 Sep 2020 — Enterprise Architecture is agnostic about your strategy. EA will only tell you whether it is feasible to build operations that will execute the strategy. EA can design an operating model that can execute almost any strategy. Even a bad one.

01 Oct 2020 — Specialisation and optimisation are the enemies of agility. Specialisation and optimisation lead to more profit. The trick is to find the balance.

02 Oct 2020 — How much of human creativity comes from someone having a misunderstanding of the facts and investing effort into implementing something using that misunderstanding?

03 Oct 2020 — Economy denotes the proper management of materials and of site, as well as a thrifty balancing of cost and common sense in the construction of works. This will be observed if, in the first place, the architect does not demand things which cannot be found or make ready without great expense. — Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture

04 Oct 2020 — In Enterprise Architecture, we don’t want to build Ferraris, we want to build buses. There are going to be lots of people using our architecture and there is no room for something highly strung. Metaphorically, if there are lots of passengers, there should be lots of buses, not one big bus; people will be getting on and off all day; it must be reliable; it must be difficult to break and able to take abuse; it must be easy to maintain; if part of it breaks, as much as possible of the rest should carry on working; a replacement bus should be available as quickly as possible; and so on. This is the Routemaster philosophy, named for the famous bus.

05 Oct 2020 — Strategy is a flexible, high-level plan that may be decided years ahead and is intended to achieve a set of long-term objectives. Tactics are the flexible, low-level activities you carry out on the day to achieve a specific objective. 

06 Oct 2020 — The operating model and the target operating model are two different versions of the same thing separated by time but connected by projects.

07 Oct 2020 — To be an Enterprise Architect you need the skin of a rhino. A rhino who spends a lot of time rubbing shoulders with those who have very thin skins indeed so uses lots of moisturiser.

08 Oct 2020 — The main aim of Enterprise Architecture is to redesign the business to efficiently execute strategy. That means you have to understand four topics: design, business and strategy. Where’s number four? It’s hidden in all of those three. The fourth topic is people. 

09 Oct 2020 — Enterprise Architecture is not a zero sum game. There do not have to be winners and losers in the transformations that you plan. If you plan well, everyone can win.

10 Oct 2020 — “The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

11 Oct 2020 — There was a time when I knew nothing about Enterprise Architecture. If the point of one of these daily “thoughts” puzzles you, feel free to ask about it. Others probably have the same question. If you’re worried that asking might dent your reputation, one of the many skills an EA needs to develop is asking questions tactfully. If you’re still worried, DM me. I will hold your reputation in higher regard for asking. Equally, if you think the “thought” is wrong, hold me to account publicly. If our opinions differ, one of us is wrong, both of us are wrong or somehow we’re both right. Whichever it is, we’ll learn something. 

12 Oct 2020 — If you want to become an Enterprise Architect and money is tight, you can start with the free EA tool Archi:
It uses Archimate which is not the best learning tool but at least it’s complete and also free. Once you have learned the basics, model a part of your business that you do not yet understand. Then move on to a simple model of your entire business using fewer than 50 objects — something you could show to senior management and they would instantly agree that, yes, that’s your business.

13 Oct 2020 — A mistaken idea honestly held is not a sin. You should only fear being mistaken as much as the likelihood or severity of the outcome of it. What you should fear with all of your heart are dishonestly held mistaken ideas. Learn to tell facts from opinions and allow facts to change your mistaken ideas.

14 Oct 2020 — When you are learning Enterprise Architecture, be prepared to ignore half of what you hear and see from “experts” or EA bodies. The profession is filled with people whose brains are so full that they stopped learning decades ago and now just want to tell. It is filled with pet theories that have little merit. There is no shortage of ideas that will only add bureaucracy. There are plenty of EA “experts” who dishonestly teach bad information because correcting their materials would take years and they would have to admit to being wrong. In other words, it’s just like almost every other profession. When you are learning Enterprise Architecture, ignore who said it and ask yourself, does it work?

15 Oct 2020 — To create a successful architecture, you need to be honest in your architecture work. However, sometimes you will have to face dishonest stakeholders. You might not like office politics but you will only succeed as an architect if you and your team can deal with it. 

16 Oct 2020 — There is no lasting truth in architecture, there is only what is true for you today. Tomorrow it might not be true; might not work for you. So keep exploring for new and better truths. 

17 Oct 2020 — “Architecture arouses sentiments in man. The architect’s task therefore, is to make those sentiments more precise.” — Adolf Loos

18 Oct 2020 — There are many arguments about where the Enterprise Architecture team should sit in the business. Some say it should sit under the CEO because it’s about strategic change. Others say it should be under the COO because, although it’s about strategic change, those changes are to the operations. Some say it should sit under someone like the CFO to guarantee neutrality and financial oversight. Still others who have mistaken EA for Enterprise IT Architecture or only use a subset of EA to deliver IT systems think it should sit with IT under the CIO. The only certain answer is that it needs to be somewhere it can act as an independent internal consultancy.

19 Oct 2020 — If you’re already an Enterprise Architect and want to continue to grow, you need to spend time with other architects from other businesses discussing architecture. Not that it will take much encouragement but have some good-natured arguments. Be honest in those arguments; if you’re wrong, admit it. Honesty is at least as important as reputation in architecture. And you know having a reputation for honesty is a good thing, right?

20 Oct 2020 — Guidelines are not rules. Guidelines are there to guide. If you need to depart from that guide and blaze your own trail, do it. It adds risk but it’s one way to get new guidelines. 

21 Oct 2020 — Being able to communicate your architecture accurately is at least as important as having a good design. The way we communicate the architecture is through models, drawings and documents. They need to be clear, easy to understand and have a single interpretation. They need to be good enough that, if you win the lottery, your stakeholders can continue with out you but will wish you were there for the next one.

22 Oct 2020 — TOGAF makes the mistake of calling a part of the business operating model “business architecture” where it should be called “process architecture” or “service architecture”. As an Enterprise Architect, you need to have a firm understanding of what Business Architects will expect from you. A reasonable start is to look at the Business Model Canvas:
Where an Enterprise Architect works on the business operating model, a Business Architect works on the business model.

23 Oct 2020 — All of the EA literature hammers home that you must have an As-Is model. But if a detailed As-Is model is in a key stakeholder’s brain and you have free access to them, do you still need to document it?

24 Oct 2020 — “An architect ought to be an educated man so as to leave a more lasting remembrance in his treatises. Secondly, he must have a knowledge of drawing so that he can readily make sketches to show the appearance of the work which he proposes.” — Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture

25 Oct 2020 — At its core, Enterprise Architecture expresses a simple idea: if you use a metamodel to break up business operations into categories then draw a map of how the business operations work using those categories, you can explain the design of business operations. If you can explain the design of operations for a business that exists, you can explain the design of a business that doesn’t yet exist but is what you want your business to be. By producing both designs, you can figure out ways to turn the business that exists into the business you want.

26 Oct 2020 — So you want to understand Business Strategy at a very basic level? Try this:
* Print off two copies of the Business Model Canvas:
* Take one copy and pencil in the details of your business at the moment
* Take the other copy and pencil in the details of a vision of your future business in five years’ time (pay particular attention to Value Props and Revenue)
* Now compare the two. For each detail that has changed:
– What objectives will you need to set to achieve that change?
– What projects will you need to achieve those objectives?
– How much investment will those projects need?
– Where are you going to get that investment?
– How long will it take to recover that investment and pay it back?
– How much risk is involved in each project?
– What are you going to do if one or more projects fail to deliver?
– How much of your success is based on things outside of your control, e.g. your customers whims or your competitors failing to compete?
– Now realise that in five years’ time, your markets will almost certainly have changed so your future business model is almost certainly wrong
– Cross out everything that won’t work, is too expensive, too risky or too reliant on outside factors and try again
– Read the news for your industry and markets to see what you need to change in your future business model
– Write in new details in the future business model to replace the stuff you had to cross out and repeat the checks
* Do it again tomorrow and keep doing it every day until it’s good enough to show someone
* Get over their laughter, listen to their criticisms then start again.

27 Oct 2020 — Data by itself is not valuable. Data becomes valuable when you have an algorithm or query that can turn it into information.

28 Oct 2020 — Enterprise Architecture can be very political. And, just like real politics, there is a strong chance your opponent will be dishonest. You need to learn to not only deal with that but ensure that your work is not impacted by it. There is no harm in occasionally showing a fox that the sheepdog has teeth. If there are a lot of foxes, it pays to occasionally dispatch one.

29 Oct 2020 — One of the best feelings you can have as an Enterprise Architect is discovering something new that upsets your current ideas about EA. It is the feeling of life and growth. 

30 Oct 2020 — Aesthetics play an important role in building architecture. Do you want to work in some crumbling, ugly piece of concrete or a shining palace of glass? The same is true for Enterprise Architecture only your architecture is likely to erode much faster. Design your architecture so that it will still be attractive once the kinks have been ironed out and people have been working in it for years.

31 Oct 2020 — “Architecture is the reaching out for the truth.” — Louis Kahn

01 Nov 2020 — Your enterprise is the sum of the current and past intelligence of people. All of the people who ever worked there or supplied something or interacted with it. Every argument they had and meeting they won or lost. Some of them are operating the enterprise right now. Others left after they created a process years ago that has proved valuable enough to keep or too complex to change. Still more were sat on the other side of the world when they wrote part of a huge program that does a tiny but useful thing for your enterprise so it bought a copy. A potential customer didn’t even buy something but their questions caused ripples. Some of the people who exert an influence on your enterprise are long dead but wrote something that opened the eyes of an employee before they joined… and maybe that employee misunderstood. With or without you, your enterprise will be different tomorrow because of people. You cannot completely understand your enterprise because you cannot be all of those people. But you can be someone who understands how to change your enterprise for the better.

02 Nov 2020 — If you want to be an architect, you have to think. Patterns are useful but they are no replacement for being able to produce your own. If you just read books and regurgitate, couldn’t they just get an intern to do that? Before you read a book, read the blurb and try to figure out the contents for yourself; then read the book and see how it compares. One of your aims as an architect is to come up with new things that aren’t in the books yet. 

03 Nov 2020 — IT architects are trained to think about an enterprise as information, its processing and its flow. Unfortunately, that’s actively detrimental to understanding anything other than the purpose of the enterprise’s IT systems. If you want to become an Enterprise Architect, you need to understand how an enterprise with no IT can operate. Thankfully, history is jam packed with examples.

04 Nov 2020 — One of the greatest things things you can do for your architecture team is to encourage them to be a rock that weathers any storm.

05 Nov 2020 — In Enterprise Architecture, it pays to assume you’re wrong about everything but somehow all that wrong stuff is working. Tomorrow, you’ll grow as an EA, gain some new insight or learn something that proves it really was wrong. Now picture those daily improvements stretching off into the future. 

06 Nov 2020 — If you always do things by the book, is it you doing the work or the book’s author? Could they give the book to someone else and get the same result? Are you effectively just a replaceable cog in a machine? It takes years to write a book so are they always out of date? What if the book doesn’t cover your specific situation? Being an architect is not about what’s in a book, being an architect is about thinking for yourself.

07 Nov 2020 — “As for philosophy, it makes an architect high-minded and not self-assuming, but rather renders him courteous, just, and honest without avariciousness. This is very important, for no work can be rightly done without honesty and incorruptibility. Let him not be grasping nor have his mind preoccupied with the idea of receiving perquisites, but let him with dignity keep up his position by cherishing a good reputation.” — Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture

08 Nov 2020 — Why are there so many arguments between architects? Apart from it being in our nature to verbally and mentally wrestle, there is an additional factor. Do you think that an architect who designs office blocks for a living thinks about architecture the same way as one who designs housing developments, one who designs restaurants, one who designs passenger terminals or one who designs shopping malls? How many arguments would there be about architecture if you put all of those architects on a single project to build a seaside family resort?

09 Nov 2020 — Beware of buzzwords. Learn how to use plain English instead of buzzwords. While you may need to understand them, almost none of your stakeholders will. Using buzzwords in a meeting doesn’t make you seem clever, they just make you more difficult to understand and more like someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about.

10 Nov 2020 — The more you automate something, the more you make it difficult to change. The less you automate something, the more people you need to do it. People are expensive but so is automation. Especially if it’s temporary, sometimes the right answer is to throw bodies at a problem.

11 Nov 2020 — Every Enterprise Architect has a different set of experiences. Don’t be surprised if you find another architect talking about something they’re doing and you not only can’t do it, you’ve never even heard of it. This is especially true the longer you have worked for the same company because you don’t get to see how other companies work. They could be in the same boat as you. Or still be doing their previous job but calling it architecture. Unlike a building architect who must spend years and pass exams to qualify, anyone can call themselves an EA. So keep an open mind about other architects but also be sceptical. What is true for them may not be true for you.

12 Nov 2020 — There is no need for one architect to agree with another. There is no need to agree on which is the best framework or even whether you need one. What matters is that each architect designs what they call architecture, that it is the equivalent of structurally sound, that it meets the stakeholder requirements, that the customer agrees it should be built and the builders know how to build it by looking at the design. 

13 Nov 2020 — When you are starting out in EA, it’s important to understand the big picture before you head into the details. Unfortunately, almost all of the literature dives straight into the details and skims over the big picture. At its most basic level, the job is: negotiate, design and communicate. You negotiate with the customer and the builders in order to decide what can and should be designed. You produce the design. You communicate the design to the customer, project manager, builders and operators.

14 Nov 2020 — “Just be yourself… Worst advice ever. There’s no advice worse than, ‘just be yourself’. Here’s better advice: try to be a better version of yourself. Try to be better than yourself. Now that’s good advice. Try to continuously improve. Try to not accept where you are as good enough.” — Scott Adams

15 Nov 2020 — Are business, data, applications and technology (BDAT) the primary domains? No. Those are only the domains as seen from the IT department. BDAT is only for when you’re delivering IT systems. Three domains for IT and one domain for everyone else. So what are the primary and secondary domains in your enterprise? They’re different in every business. Go look at the org chart and work your way down from the top. The groups, divisions, departments, sections, segments, specialist areas, subject matter teams, etc. are the domains of your enterprise. Each of them feeds into a full stack of domains probably something closer to this:
Markets & Segments > Enterprise Propositions > Value Propositions > Customer Image & Relationships > Business Strategy > Finance & Investment > Partners & Suppliers > Capabilities > Operational Strategy & Transformation > Operational Management > Revenue & Return on Investment > Resources > Competencies > People & Talents > Process > Communications > Information > Data > Applications > Technology

16 Nov 2020 — If you want to become an Enterprise Architect, you need to aim past that point. To become an EA, you need to be useful to your directors. That means you need to understand what is useful to them. That in turn means you need to understand the concerns of your directors. And, if you understand what is useful and needed to a director, doesn’t that make you in line to become one?

17 Nov 2020 — A good thing about Enterprise Architecture is that your designs can be precise enough that every level of the business can understand their part in a transformation. However, this is a double-edged sword. Using traditional change methods, a business can insulate itself from poor strategic decisions — a new strategy would be announced only for it to steadily fizzle out in middle management the closer it gets to the people who know how many things it would muck up. A bad thing about EA is that you might bypass that self-preservation so make sure you listen to the concerns of those who push back on your plans.

18 Nov 2020 — One of the things you have to do as an Enterprise Architect is spend plenty of time with the people at the coal face and listen to them. They won’t understand your concerns but you need to understand theirs.

19 Nov 2020 — When it comes to Capability, you need to think about it like having an army at your disposal. Capability is what you can do with that army.

20 Nov 2020 — When you understand how to map compliance onto your architecture model and keep that model up to date, you can prove to your regulator that you are entirely compliant and audits can be done in days instead of months. 

21 Nov 2020 — “At our MIT lab, there are people from diverse backgrounds like architecture, psychology, and philosophy, giving a holistic touch to the creation of any technology we may have in mind.” — Pranav Mistry

22 Nov 2020 — When you understand how to map compliance onto your architecture model and keep that model up to date, compliance with new legislation stops being something to keep you awake at night and instead becomes just a routine matter.

23 Nov 2020 — Fun fact: when you understand how to map compliance onto your architecture model, one of the things that becomes obvious is the location of potential loopholes in the legislation.

24 Nov 2020 — One of the things you need to understand in order to function well as an Enterprise Architect is the concept of Value. It is one of the basic theories of business but holds true in every type of enterprise. Understanding the difference between the cost of building and operating something versus the Value it delivers is essential for success.

25 Nov 2020 — Be wary of the “lots of people have been asking for this” fallacy. It is very common in businesses for large, expensive projects to be started on the basis that lots of people want it only for the project to turn out to be something almost no one wanted.

26 Nov 2020 — Value is the basis for win-win transactions. If I have more eggs than I need and you have more potatoes than you need, by trading our spare eggs and potatoes, we both win. This concept extends into all parts of the business including Enterprise Architecture.

27 Nov 2020 — Be wary of the “we must do something” fallacy. While inaction can be a terrible idea, action without a clear strategy can be worse.

28 Nov 2020 — When you look at the operating model for an enterprise, it effectively comes down to people, process and technology. A process doesn’t have to be formal and you could make it up as you go along. Technology is useful but isn’t a requirement for an enterprise. That just leaves people. Those are the only essential parts of an operating model. Or an enterprise for that matter. Neither process nor technology can form a business by themselves. When you follow that idea to its logical conclusion, you realise that an enterprise is like a sports team. The technology is the kit the team uses to play the game. A process is a set of tactics that have been found to work. So design your process and technology to allow your people to win.

29 Nov 2020 — “Analysis paralysis” can prevent you from taking action. It is normally a sign that the combination of risk, expense and complexity exceeds the ability of the analysers to hold in their minds. Some problems really are just too big for anyone. However, if you take away one of those three, the paralysis usually goes away. That in itself can help you move towards a decision.

30 Nov 2020 — When you look at the operating model for an enterprise, it effectively comes down to people, process and technology. A process doesn’t have to be formal and you could make it up as you go along. Technology is useful but isn’t a requirement for an enterprise. That just leaves people. Those are the only essential parts of an operating model. Or an enterprise for that matter. Neither process nor technology can form a business by themselves. When you follow that idea to its logical conclusion, you realise that an enterprise is like a sports team. The technology is the kit the team uses to play the game. A process is a set of tactics that have been found to work. So design your process and technology to allow your people to win.

01 Dec 2020 — An architect only makes some of the decisions. No more than a building architect makes the decisions about what building is going to be built. The big decisions are always made by the customer not the architect. It’s part of the architect’s job to ensure that those are well-informed decisions that can be implemented with the resources available.

02 Dec 2020 — Enterprise Architecture has a strange history. It started out in IT but the merge with Process Architecture and Business Architecture in the nineties means that it has almost no IT left in it other than some basic alignment. 

03 Dec 2020 — If you want to be a successful Enterprise Architect, try to keep complexity to a minimum and build from lots of simple things.

04 Dec 2020 — There is no such thing as a perfect process except in the mind of the person designing it. Tomorrow, circumstances will change so that process will have to change too. Maybe before it has even been deployed.

05 Dec 2020 — “The map is not the territory” — Alfred Korzybski

06 Dec 2020 — Every Enterprise Architecture metamodel… Every business management framework like the Resource-Based View… All of these things are just simplifications of what happens when several thousand people get together as part of an enterprise. It has to be simplified because no one person can understand every single thing that is going on. There are people who spend their entire career building their understanding of their job so there is no way one person can understand all of the several thousand. Yet we have to understand the enterprise well enough to steer or change it. To do that, we need simplified views of it.

07 Dec 2020 — Whenever you hear about Amazon treating its warehouse workers like the robots that work alongside them, that should remind you of how Enterprise Architecture and Process Architecture can go wrong. If you want robots working for your enterprise, design your processes for robots and build robots. If you want humans working for your enterprise…

08 Dec 2020 — It is better for your processes to be “good enough” and easy to change than “the best” but difficult to change.

09 Dec 2020 — When you design a new process, it should be as loose as possible so that the subject matter experts who use the process are not constrained by it but enabled by it and can still use their expertise.

10 Dec 2020 — In some ways, Enterprise Architecture is like cooking. You can make something terrible with good ingredients. You can make something edible with poor ingredients. A single good ingredient will not transform the dish. A single bad ingredient can ruin a dish. But you can make something good with average ingredients.

11 Dec 2020 — Before you design a new level 5 or 6 process, ask yourself if it is a process or a case. At the very least, you need to design your processes so that someone can deal with exceptions from any direction. In a regulated industry, those exceptions still need to follow the regulations. If you know that there will be a lot of exceptions, maybe case management would be a better choice than process management.

12 Dec 2020 — “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.” — Charles Eames

13 Dec 2020 — Enterprise Architects are a disagreeable bunch and argue with each other a lot. Maybe that’s to make up for how much they have to be agreeable with their customers. Maybe it’s just in their nature. Either way, you need to be able to take the rough and tumble if you engage with them. And, if you want to succeed as an architect, you need to engage with other architects.

14 Dec 2020 — There is no such thing as a perfect process. A single human can turn the whole thing upside down. 

15 Dec 2020 — The story of Enterprise Architecture is the design of business operations. The story behind the story is alignment of the various parts of the business operations. The real story is communicating all of that to the right people.

16 Dec 2020 — Human beings like stasis; they have a lot of inertia and don’t generally like change unless they can see a clear advantage for themselves. That should give you a big hint about how to approach change. 

17 Dec 2020 — There is a reason to be wary of RBV’s Resources, Competencies and Capabilities which bundles People into Resources. There are no two ways around it, you cannot treat People as a Resource in anything other than the loosest sense. It is important to remember the demoralisation that happened when Personnel departments started to change their names to Human Resources. 

18 Dec 2020 — There is no such thing as a perfect process. However, there is such a thing as a rewarding process; one that gives a return on the investment of both its creation and operational cost; one that gives value to the customers and to its operators.

19 Dec 2020 — “For me, every day is a new thing. I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did. And I get the sweats. I go in and start working, I’m not sure where I’m going. If I knew where I was going I wouldn’t do it.” — Frank Gehry

20 Dec 2020 — There is a huge difference between “just be yourself” and “you’ve got this.” Imagine if someone told your business, “just be yourself”. The world is a constantly changing and evolving place. Imagine your business not bothering to change if the situation called for it. How long would it be before your business went bust? Your business needs to constantly change to just keep up and so do you. Have confidence in the moment and confidence that you can improve enough to handle the next moment. You’ve got this.

21 Dec 2020 — Value is one of the simplest topics yet some people still fail to understand it. If all you have to eat today is six loaves of bread, the first loaf is more valuable to you than the sixth. In fact, by the sixth loaf, you’d probably be fed up with plain bread. If all your friend has is butter, he’s in a worse situation. But his butter is valuable to you and maybe you can exchange half of your loaves for half of his butter. If all I have is a fire, maybe the three of us get buttered toast. No money has changed hands but we all contribute and gain value. If other people turn up, maybe we can sell some of that buttered toast because our customers value it more than they value the money we ask for it.

22 Dec 2020 — You can do more than measure Return on Investment financially, you can also measure lots of other things such as whether there was an ROI in the form of improved morale.

23 Dec 2020 — If you can measure ROI other than financially, for instance in the form of improved morale, reduced staff turnover or making a complicated process less stressful, you are judging the Value of those things. You are effectively saying that you value staff morale more than you value the investment it took to improve it. 

24 Dec 2020 — Father Christmas knows whether you have been good or bad and changes your presents accordingly. This is a classic use of a KPI to monitor events and determine the proper outcome of a process.

26 Dec 2020 — When you design a process, it is less useful to make the work easier than it is to keep in your heart a determination to make the work more interesting than it used to be.

27 Dec 2020 — In a small company, when the business operations need to change, it happens fast. Corners are cut, people muck-in and things get done. Eventually it will settle down to something more routine. It’s difficult to replicate in a larger company but it is possible. If you want to be a good architect, it pays to occasionally work for a small company to see how it’s done.

28 Dec 2020 — Enterprise Architecture can be a double-edged sword. In the hands of the incompetent, it will cut you down and bind you in bureaucracy. In the hands of the competent, it will help you cut through bureaucracy and respond to your markets with poise.

29 Dec 2020 — Make the work in your enterprise engaging. If the work isn’t engaging, people will avoid doing it. Which can lead to them trying to figure out how to get their boss to hire other people to do it. This is one of the ways you end up with vast bureaucracies that do nothing useful.

30 Dec 2020 — If you want your boss’s job, the best method by far to do that is to help your boss get a promotion.

31 Dec 2020 — A year of EA thought of the day… Random opinions of a beach bum or EA equivalent of a motivational cat poster? You be the judge!