Thoughts of the Day 2021

01 Jan 2021 — If all you do is believe in yourself, you may never get anywhere. Success comes to those who take action whether they believe in themselves or not.

02 Jan 2021 — “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Buckminster Fuller

03 Jan 2021 — A strong enterprise is designed from the start with KPIs in mind because they let you know if the enterprise is operating correctly.

04 Jan 2021 — A lot of employees aren’t there because they love your business, they’re there to feed their family or pay off their student debts or any number of other things. However, there’s no harm in designing the business so that they come to love it.

05 Jan 2021 — If you want to turn up at nine and leave at five, architecture is probably not the job for you. At least, not if you want to be a good architect.

06 Jan 2021 — When you are working on an architecture, is it better to think like a process designer or a game designer?

07 Jan 2021 — Enterprise Architecture is a torch that can bring light into the darkest corners of business operations. 

08 Jan 2021 — If you put a bunch of subject matter experts into a room with a job that has to be done then and there, they will figure out how to do it. The big questions are, can your analysts capture how they did it, can you as an architect make it work at scale and what are the impacts on the rest of the business?

09 Jan 2021 — “Architects can’t force people to connect, it can only plan the crossing points, remove barriers and make the meeting places useful and attractive.” — Denise Scott

10 Jan 2021 — The difference between an expert on a subject and an intellectual is that experts can be held to account whereas intellectuals pay no price for being wrong. If there is no price to be paid for being wrong, would you trust an intellectual to build a bridge that is safe? If there is no price to be paid for being wrong, would you trust an intellectual to advise you on how to build a bridge that is safe? Trust people who can be held accountable. If a person does not pay a price for being wrong, their opinions are literally worthless.

11 Jan 2021 — Rapid iteration through versions of a process may only be useful when you are chasing an objective. Once the objective has been achieved, it is important to decide, should those rapid iterations continue? Will the consumers of the outputs from that process want constant change or will they want stability?

12 Jan 2021 — Cascades can be harnessed for good. It is possible for a change in one part of the business to cause a cascade of effects in other parts of the business. While you have to be careful to avoid negative cascades, a positive cascade is a beautiful thing.

13 Jan 2021 — The purpose of a business is to make a profit. The greatest changes for the better in people’s lives often comes from the products and services of companies that create the largest profit. Do you think that’s a coincidence?

14 Jan 2021 — A change cascade is when a change in one part of the business causes problems or improvements in other parts of the business a long way from where the change happened. It’s related to Impact Analysis. Suppose you change a process. That might cause a change in a related process which in turn causes a change in a more distant process with no direct connection to the original where the you made the change. If you want to deliberately cause a positive change cascade, you have to have a deep understanding of your impacts.

15 Jan 2021 — If you have designed a process that is dull and boring to perform, have you designed a process that could and should have been automated?

16 Jan 2021 — “I think of architecture as a piece of clothing to wrap around human beings.” — Toyo Ito

17 Jan 2021 — If the resources are a ship and its crew… And the competencies are the ability to maintain, sail and navigate the ship… Then the capabilities might be to take passengers and freight from port A to port B.

18 Jan 2021 — The people who do the hard work of getting your business to achieve an objective may not be the same as the people who consolidate that objective once it has been achieved. Once the consolidation has happened, it may be that a third set of people is responsible for running the business operations that follow. In an army, this can all happen in a matter of hours. In a business, this might unfold over years.

19 Jan 2021 — If there is one core concept in Digital Transformation, it is to look at every part of your business model and ask, “how do we cut out the middle man?”

20 Jan 2021 — Digitalisation and Digital Transformation are two different things but a lot of information out there confuses them. Digitalisation is about improving existing ways of working, e.g. find all of the paper-based parts of a process and replace them with an application. Digital Transformation is about changing the way of doing business, e.g. close all of your DVD rental stores and start an online streaming service.

21 Jan 2021 — Imagine someone could kill your business on a whim. No discussion, no court decision, no way of stopping it. I used to love AWS but that is the power it decided to exercise over one of its customers and now the precedent is set. It doesn’t matter if you think its decision was correct, what matters is that AWS has proven itself willing to kill your business on a whim with no discussion, no court decision and no way of you stopping it. You might say that you have no intention of breaking the AWS terms of service but what happens you if you are falsely accused? No discussion, no court decision, no way of stopping it. So what is your cloud exit strategy?

22 Jan 2021 — If you’ve ever worked with programmers, you’ve probably met one who lost sight of the problem domain after falling in love with the language domain. Instead of concentrating on the business needs, they’re off exploring some new part of their preferred programming language. The same can happen to architects. They can become so enthralled with the architecture domain that they forget its purpose is to improve the business. Always remember that architecture may be beautiful and can be used to express your creativity but it is just a tool.

23 Jan 2021 — “I call architecture frozen music.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

24 Jan 2021 — An enterprise can only be understood by all of its people and not one individual. It takes all of those who spend their entire careers building their understanding of their jobs. You cannot understand all of them. There is too much for any one person to understand. Yet you must find a way not only to understand but to help others understand well enough to make educated decisions about changing it for the better. Enterprise Architecture makes this contradiction easier to manage but will anything ever resolve the contradiction?

25 Jan 2021 — The skills you need to be an Enterprise Architect include lots of soft skills. That includes how you advertise yourself. Take a good look at the people you expect to take you seriously, how they carry themselves and the clothes they wear. If they wear tailored suits, you need to wear tailored suits. You need to fit in with them.

26 Jan 2021 — Even if you think the AWS decision was correct, AWS has proven willing to kill your business on a whim with no discussion, no court decision and no way of you stopping it. That is a genie which can never go back in its bottle. AWS proved the doom-mongers about moving to the cloud were correct. If the biggest cloud provider did it, would smaller cloud providers do the same? As much as I used to love AWS, I now have to put in a strong recommendation to all of my customers that they start to move back off the cloud. Unless you have a vast appetite for risk, AWS has ruined the cloud for everyone.

27 Jan 2021 — One of the biggest hindrances to process design and improvement is the flowchart. Good processes are not 2-dimensional. Worse, there is a strong desire to make a flowchart simple to understand. The trouble is that simple to understand almost certainly means boring to perform. After all, which do you think is more interesting, the process that you can pick up after 30 seconds looking at its flowchart or the process that takes you a year to get as good at as your boss?

28 Jan 2021 — Corporate culture needs careful consideration and a delicate touch. You might think you want a monoculture but that could kill your organisation. After all, do you really want your sales and marketing people to be just like your accountants?

29 Jan 2021 — It may be that you are the only person who understands the beauty of the architecture you create. It may be that others only want to see a small part of it or do not grasp the whole. It may be that the only person who would appreciate it is another architect and none of them will ever see it. Despite that, the beauty is still there for you to see. Beauty exists as long as there is one person to be swayed by it. Inspire yourself. Make beautiful things.

30 Jan 2021 — “Architecture is not based on concrete and steel, and the elements of the soil. It’s based on wonder.” — Daniel Libeskind

31 Jan 2021 — Should you get hung-up on the definition of architecture terms? No and yes. — No in that it is not the word that counts but the concept behind it. If you work with several different customers, there is a strong chance you will find a particular concept being used but with the wrong term; what one company calls a process, another might call a function, another call it a procedure and so on. The use of the wrong word to describe a concept is incredibly common. So you need a strong mental grasp of the concept more than any particular term. — Yes in that you need to know the correct term for a concept if you want to communicate with other architects and understand the literature. You also need to know at least some of the common misuses of a word because many of those architects you communicate with (or hire) will have spent their formative years in a company that misuses it.

01 Feb 2021 — RBV, the Resource Based View, can be expressed as:
[Resources] + [Competencies] => [Capabilities]
[Tradesmen, bricks, lumber, pipes, cables, etc.] + [Bricklaying, carpentry, plumbing, electrics, etc.] => [Build houses]

02 Feb 2021 — AWS has shown it is willing to shut down a business on a whim. Suppose AWS decides you have broken its terms of service. If AWS switches you off, how will your business continue?

03 Feb 2021 — Never ask people if you should do a thing if it costs them nothing to say yes. When you’ve done the thing, there is no guarantee that you will see any kind of return on your investment. The people who said yes will often have melted away or had circumstances change. Do the thing on the understanding that any return on investment is a gamble. Or do the thing because someone signed a contract. Or because you want to do it. Or just for fun.

04 Feb 2021 — The vast majority of “wisdom” about leadership comes from people who have never been a leader.

05 Feb 2021 — If you want your business to survive in an environment where not just servers go down but maybe your cloud provider cancels your account at short notice, you need to look at Chaos Engineering. Here’s a reasonable starting point: https://netflixtechblog.com/the-netflix-simian-army-16e57fbab116

06 Feb 2021 — “One of the great beauties of architecture is that each time it is like life starting all over again.” — Renzo Piano

07 Feb 2021 — One of the deepest dangers a business can face is an apparently sensible idea that everyone understands. If an idea has no critics, that should ring alarm bells. The best theories in human history have faults, why would this one be any different? Just because a theory is coherent does not make it correct.

08 Feb 2021 — The highest purpose of a business is to make a profit. You might think that the highest purpose of a business is to improve the lives of its customers but how is it going to do that if it doesn’t make a profit and goes bust?

09 Feb 2021 — Suppose AWS decides you have broken its terms of service and shuts you down. Except it’s questionable; you think you haven’t broken the terms of service. How long would your business be unable to operate while a court reviewed your case? Could you afford better lawyers than AWS?

10 Feb 2021 — Imagine going on what you think is an art course but all it does is tell you what pencils, paints, brushes, canvas and paper you need with a bit about how to clean brushes. That would be an art framework course. You might hope that going on a TOGAF course will teach you about Enterprise Architecture. Your hopes would be dashed. A TOGAF course will teach you about TOGAF which is a framework. All you’re doing in a TOGAF course is the equivalent of learning how to clean your brushes.

11 Feb 2021 — If you’ve ever played chess, you understand that commenting on a game is very different from playing that game. Moves that are obvious to a commenter can be invisible to a player even when the player is far more advanced than the commenter. The same is true in business leadership.

12 Feb 2021 — There is a major problem in journalism where it’s cheap to get a recent graduate to do a poorly understood rewrite of a story from another outlet and give it a clickbait headline. Experienced journalists cost a lot more and produce far fewer words per day. There is a parallel in Enterprise Architecture literature except, instead of clickbait, you could call it prestigebait — architects build up a body of work in order to appear prestigious but it’s actually just poorly understood rewrites of other architects’ work.

13 Feb 2021 — “As an architect you design for the present with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown.” — Norman Foster

14 Feb 2021 — People who only listen to one side of the argument make poor decisions. It doesn’t matter whether that’s in business, politics or architecture. It may be that the people who came up with the other side of the argument are wrong but it could also be that they are smarter than you, better informed or even just lucky this time. People who listen to both sides make better decisions. People who can articulate both sides accurately make even better decisions. The question you have to ask yourself is, do you have to remain neutral until you’ve heard both sides?

15 Feb 2021 — An objective must have a known set of activities used to achieve it and ways to measure your progress. Anything else is just a wish.

16 Feb 2021 — Google Cloud made a $5.6bn loss in 2020. Although that is within analysts’ predictions and its revenue growth is strong, revenue without profit is a game that even those with deep pockets can only sustain for so long. Being a distant third in the market may not be helpful there and Alphabet has a history of rapidly killing off parts of its business that fail to make a profit. Which leaves the question, given the obvious risk that it won’t be there in a few years, is it really worth putting anything on Google Cloud?

17 Feb 2021 — The cost of making a change is not necessarily limited to the part of the business you are focussed on. Every change can have impacts in related parts of the business. There is no point in saving money on the cost of doing X if it causes a corresponding increase in the cost of doing Y.

18 Feb 2021 — In order to understand Enterprise Architecture, you need to look past process-oriented or service-oriented architecture because, while useful, they only explain a comparatively small part of the enterprise.

19 Feb 2021 — Unless an objective has a defined set of conditions and you have a way to measure progress towards them, how would you know if you have achieved the right objective?

20 Feb 2021 — “I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.” — Le Corbusier

21 Feb 2021 — An Enterprise Architect has to be an expert in that field but also needs to be an expert generalist. Two thousand years ago, Vitruvius recognised that a building architect needed to understand more than just structure and materials. An EA needs to have at least some understanding of art, psychology, economics, communications, commerce, finance, management and many other topics.

22 Feb 2021 — Architecture requires participation. You cannot learn it in a book any more than you can learn how to ride a bicycle in a book. You need to go do it. And, just like riding a bicycle, you need to learn surrounded by those who will teach you and keep you safe until you have found your balance. 

23 Feb 2021 — AWS has shown it is willing to shut down a business on a whim. What is to stop it from shutting down your business on a whim? What is to stop one of your competitors photoshopping a bunch of lies together and sending them to AWS? What if a journalist decides they don’t like your CEO?

24 Feb 2021 — The more distant an objective, the more it is about probability. Apart from the set of objectives right in front of you, Strategy is mostly about the direction you might head through the infinite set of possible objectives beyond them.

25 Feb 2021 — There is a huge difference between a business competence and a business capability. Business competence is the equivalent to a skill. It is the ability to execute. Whereas a business capability is what you can use that competence to achieve. In humans, having a car and the ability to drive it is a competence. That competence gives the capability to go to the shops.

26 Feb 2021 — Just because you made an honest attempt to learn something and built a coherent understanding does not mean your understanding is correct. 

27 Feb 2021 — “Goals are not ends, but ideal processes by which the future can be created.” — Warren Bennis

28 Feb 2021 — In order to make sense of how a business operates, we use hierarchies. At the lowest levels, things are pretty easy to understand. You have a process group or service category that contains a set of related activities, e.g. all of the Procurement activities. Then things can start to get less obvious. When you go to the level above that, do you put Procurement into a group based on its department or its competence? There are merits to building your structure around the org chart and merits to building it around how people engage with it. Do your stakeholders think that Procurement resides in the Finance department or do they think of it as part of Supply Chain Management? In theory, you can have both but should you?

01 Mar 2021 — Competence and capability are important business concepts. A parallel in humans is the combination of a car and the ability to drive is a competence. That competence gives the capability to go to the shops. The parallels keep going. Every car and driver combination gives a different competence even if the capability we need stays the same.

02 Mar 2021 — Suppose AWS decides you have broken its terms of service and shuts you down. Except you didn’t break the terms of service. How long would your business be unable to operate before AWS reviewed your case and switched your servers back on?

03 Mar 2021 — If your argument cannot stand up to a refutation by your peers, unless you have proof that you are right, it’s probably time to let that argument go or at least put it on your “not proven” list. Equally, just because your argument didn’t live up to its promise doesn’t mean it is wrong or that your peers are correct. Emotional investment in a specific argument is a waste of time. Invest your emotion in the quest to find a better one.

04 Mar 2021 — If you want to be an architect, you have to think. You need to create not just architecture but patterns and processes of creating architecture. If all you do is read a book and ape it without question, are you an architect or is it the book’s author? When you read a book on architecture, focus not just on the question of how you would use its contents but keep asking yourself, is there a better way?

05 Mar 2021 — Our business has competencies that deliver our capabilities. We could shut down a competence or sell it off then use someone else’s competence to give us the same capabilities. Or we can use a competence to push into a new market thus delivering a different capability.

06 Mar 2021 — “A company has no value in itself. It only has value to the degree that is [an] effective allocator of resources to create business services that are of a greater value than the costs of the inputs.” — Elon Musk

07 Mar 2021 — Imagine yourself back in the office. Look at the people around you. How many are directly involved in the delivery of a process or service? Walk around the whole building and look at the people. How many are not even indirectly involved with the delivery of a process or service? At least, not unless you really stretch the definitions of process and service then try to say that Project Managers are delivering a service. Most employees are not really involved with processes or services. Which means the average EA metamodel works well “close to the surface” with things like Customer Experience where processes and services live. But EA metamodels cannot easily describe why a senior manager needs an assistant, only that there is one.

08 Mar 2021 — There is no truth in Enterprise Architecture, only what is good enough to be taken as true for now. Tomorrow, we will have better understanding and something closer to the real truth.

09 Mar 2021 — If you cannot argue from first principles, what makes you think it’s your argument?

10 Mar 2021 — You can’t serve your customers if you go bust so you have to make a profit. Unless you have a monopoly, the amount of profit you make is a reasonable indicator of how well you designed your business and how well you serve your customers. 

11 Mar 2021 — There are many parts of a business that play no part in a customer value stream. Instead, they aim to generate value for the business as a whole.

12 Mar 2021 — Business competence is equivalent to the combination of having a car and being able to drive. The car and the driver are a system. The road is its environment. Despite what the adverts say, if you do it right, at no point does the car become one with the road. 

13 Mar 2021 — “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

14 Mar 2021 — When dealing with a part of the architecture that can be considered a system, whether that’s the smallest IT system or an entire department along with everything it needs to operate, it’s important to recognise that system has an environment. It’s an important distinction because some architects try to consider the environment as just another part of the system but that’s a mistake. A system is something that is under control. An environment can respond in unforeseen ways. Understanding the difference changes your architecture for the better.

15 Mar 2021 — If you are ambitious and want to climb the corporate ladder, you need to constantly train your replacement. How can you climb if there is no one to take your place?

16 Mar 2021 — The probability that you will ever do anything to advance the art of architecture is tiny. The certainty is that you should still have enormous determination to try.

17 Mar 2021 — A joke that seems funny now can wear thin after the hundredth time. So, despite the temptation to do that small project in http://www.lolcode.org/ be careful with humour or whimsy in your architecture and save those for the pub.

18 Mar 2021 — If you want to avoid technical debt in your environment, make upgrades part of your BAU instead of projects. When a new platform version is released, install it right away and make it where new deployments go. Then start to migrate your oldest deployments. Doing this reduces your technical debt and gives you training on the new version.

19 Mar 2021 — A stitch in time saves nine. When it comes to technical debt, it often starts with fear of downtime. Take an old system that uses SQL Server 2005. It hasn’t been tested with 2019 because of fear of downtime. If it had been done at the time, the upgrade from 2005 to 2012 might have had problems but small and simple ones. Maybe less so with 2014. Then 2019 could be a major problem. By the time the next version of SQL Server is released, the level of potential difficulty will have increased yet again. The risk of downtime increases with every release. This applies to every IT system.

20 Mar 2021 — “Each material has its specific characteristics which we must understand if we want to use it. This is no less true of steel and concrete.” — Mies van der Rohe

21 Mar 2021 — Many business operations managers are convinced that they are the best person to design their part of the business. In some ways they are right. As an Enterprise Architect, can you explain to them the ways that they are wrong?

22 Mar 2021 — There is a scale in architecture. A significant part of any business that has to follow process. Whether that’s part of delivering a service or making sure invoices get paid, these are the jobs that are expected to be reliable and repeatable. There are also parts of the business that sometimes have to deal with unusual situations — the most obvious example being operational management — because sometimes those reliable and repeatable jobs turn out not to be so. Then there are the jobs that have almost no structure to them and every day is different. It is easier to create architecture for those at the beginning of this scale.

23 Mar 2021 — A building architect does not work to create empty buildings. Is an Enterprise Architect any different?

24 Mar 2021 — There is a huge number of people who mistakenly think Enterprise Architecture is about IT. They buy the books and go on the courses and somehow still miss the fact that IT is a comparatively small part of EA. It is amazing that no capitalist has recognised that there is a huge untapped market for a genuine Enterprise IT Architecture subject.

25 Mar 2021 — Imagine how much further into the future the world of enterprise IT would be if thousands of IT architects hadn’t wasted their time on learning an Enterprise Architecture framework. It’s not that EA frameworks are useless, it’s that EA has little to do with IT architecture so they’re mostly useless to IT architects.

26 Mar 2021 — Suppose you have a choice for a new IT system: spend time to configure it to use your current business process or spend time to retrain your business people to use the out-of-the-box configuration. Unless it would mean your business losing part of its competitive advantage or becoming locked-in to a particular vendor, it is almost always better in the long run to use the out-of-the-box configuration. 

27 Mar 2021 — “To create architecture is to put in order. Put what in order? Function and objects.” — Le Corbusier

28 Mar 2021 — There are plenty of people who think that the right way to approach change in the business is to promote it as exciting. This seems questionable. Once the change has happened, is the work really going to be exciting? Or is it still going to be work?

29 Mar 2021 — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But do you have the skill to tell whether it’s broke?

30 Mar 2021 — In video game design, shortcuts, secrets and cheat codes are a common design technique. What would happen if you used that technique in business systems?

31 Mar 2021 — Architecture may be a serious business but there is still plenty of room for play and playfulness in it.

01 Apr 2021 — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But what if your stakeholders disagree about whether it’s broke or not?

02 Apr 2021 — While most Business Change people understand why employees get upset about Change and have do their utmost to sooth them, a lot of people in IT have no idea why employees get upset when a new IT system is going in. Surely the users will love it because it’s so much better than the old system? If you work in IT, here’s a cheat sheet so that you understand why those employees get upset.
Devs: we know you’ve been using Java for ten years but we’re switching to C#. Your job is at risk unless you make it work.
Ops: we know all the VMs are in VMware but we’re switching to Hyper-V. Your job is at risk unless you make it work.
Data: we know all the data is in SQL Server but we’re switching to MySQL. Your job is at risk unless you make it work.

03 Apr 2021 — “Consequently, since this study is so vast in extent, embellished and enriched as it is with many different kinds of learning, I think that men have no right to profess themselves architects hastily, without having climbed from boyhood the steps of these studies and thus, nursed by the knowledge of many arts and sciences, having reached the heights of the holy ground of architecture.” — Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture

04 Apr 2021 — When you model the enterprise, you are doing the equivalent of what building architects do when they produce drawings. In building architecture, the experience of being inside the resulting building is something else. In Enterprise Architecture, that is also the case. The experience of reality will be significantly different from the imagined ideal of your drawing or model.

05 Apr 2021 — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But what if it could be better?

06 Apr 2021 — Most employees like stability and don’t like any change unless it involves a pay rise. There are lots of reasons for this so your team needs to understand enough about humans and psychology to be able to grasp their motivations.

07 Apr 2021 — Even if a process has worked correctly for years, was an exemplar when put together and is still operating exactly as expected, it can still need to be replaced. The world outside of that process can change and make that process obsolete in a million different ways.

08 Apr 2021 — If reality is so different from the models we create, what is the purpose of models? Models are a communication device intended to help us show ourselves and others what will be built. The more detailed the model, the closer it comes to taking the same amount of effort to build as the reality. A good Enterprise Architecture model is not detailed but is accurate.

09 Apr 2021 — In order to understand Enterprise Architecture, you need to be able to look at a profitable business and understand that — no matter how inefficient or outdated it is — it has a good architecture and its architecture has more to teach you than you have to teach it.

10 Apr 2021 — “It takes a lot of effort to make a building look effortless.” — Norman Foster

11 Apr 2021 — Enterprise Architecture is about the structure of human activity. IT architecture is about the structure of information flow. Those two architectures must meet but those structures are two separate things and, for both to be at their best, need to be designed in different ways.

12 Apr 2021 — In order to understand why Enterprise Architecture exists, you need to understand why architecture exists. Although the word has gained a lot of additional meaning over the millennia, the core activity and reason for that activity is the same now as it was in the time of Vitruvius.

13 Apr 2021 — Human beings naturally gravitate towards hierarchies and like there to be a clear command structure. Some of them want to be at the top of that structure, others just like to know where they stand. Your architecture needs to take this into account.

14 Apr 2021 — There are heaps of argumentum ad verecundiam in Enterprise Architecture. There are also plenty of architects who think that, because they are good at their job, they are somehow an authority on architecture and miss that they are only an authority on their job. A thing is true because it is true, not because of who said it and the principles of architecture are universal.

15 Apr 2021 — Some subjects are difficult to learn because they have complicated concepts. Other subjects are difficult to learn because they have simple concepts but huge amounts of them. Enterprise Architecture has both. 

16 Apr 2021 — A change to a team probably doesn’t need any involvement from Enterprise Architecture. A change to multiple teams in a department probably doesn’t need any involvement from EA. A change to multiple teams in multiple departments is where you start to need EA.

17 Apr 2021 — “What I try to do is the art of building, and the art of building is the art of construction; it is not only about forms and shapes and images.” — Peter Zumthor

18 Apr 2021 — When you look at the architecture of a profitable business and find that it differs from your architectural theories, you need to stop and think. The business is profitable so are your theories missing something? Because reality trumps theory every time.

19 Apr 2021 — A building architect must be able to produce a drawing of the architecture of a building. An enterprise architect must be able to produce a model of the architecture of an enterprise. These are not done for the same end product but are done for almost exactly the same reasons.

20 Apr 2021 — If you look at a part of the business still using ancient practices and systems and they’re not going to change and you wonder why, it is possible that you need a better understanding of CAPEX and OPEX.

21 Apr 2021 — You are more likely to be a good Enterprise Architect if you come from a business consulting background than an IT background. Although you need a good grounding in both business and IT, the amount of business consulting experience you need far outweighs the amount of IT experience you need. You can still make it if you’re from an IT background but it will be much harder for you.

22 Apr 2021 — Why is it easier for a business consultant than someone with an IT background to become an Enterprise Architect? Enterprise Architecture is one third negotiation, one third design and one third communication. People from a business background tend to understand negotiation and communication so they only have to learn design. Whereas people with an IT background tend to only have experience with design which means they have twice as much to learn. Maybe more than that as the design portion of EA is mostly about the business.

23 Apr 2021 — Why is it easier for a business consultant than someone with an IT background to become an Enterprise Architect? The language of EA is the language of business. It is a world of process, capability, value streams and objectives. So, if you come from a business background, you already know the language. If you come from an IT background, you have to learn a whole new language. 

24 Apr 2021 — “Get out there on the god-damn front line and show them that you care, and that you’re not just in some plush office somewhere.” — Elon Musk

25 Apr 2021 — When you design a process, it is important to understand that it will need to be improved after people try to use it. This is normal and natural. You should be prepared to stand up for genuine improvements if they cause friction but your first instinct should be that friction means the process needs to improve.

26 Apr 2021 — If you want to learn Enterprise Architecture, your first mission is to learn Process Architecture. You cannot get away with just learning the notation and drawing a few flowcharts, you have to go out into the business and help the leaders to develop processes. 

27 Apr 2021 — Beware of fixed durations in your processes. If your process says that someone has 5 days to approve something, there are many bureaucrats who will treat that as a signal to only approve it once 5 day have elapsed.

28 Apr 2021 — Beware of confirmation bias. If someone says, “maybe” to you and you hear that as “probably” or some kind of positive assent, you’re suffering from confirmation bias.

29 Apr 2021 — If you want to become an Enterprise Architect, take a look at any EA metamodel (e.g. the TOGAF one here or my one here) and realise that the things in that metamodel are what you have to architect into a coherent model. Not just document them but architect them. You need a solid understanding of how to design and work with everything in your metamodel; to turn them into a model that can be used to guide the construction of a new part of the business.

30 Apr 2021 — What is a metamodel? It is a set of rules for your models. Suppose you want to model part of a business such as Procurement. Using the metamodel here, you might have a Process called “Setup New Supplier” where there is a Role called “Contract Reviewer” that is performed by an Org. Unit called “Contracts Manager” and a Role called “Approver” that is performed by the Org. Unit called “Procurement Team Leader”.

01 May 2021 — “Architects work in two ways. One is to respond precisely to a client’s needs or demands. Another is to look at what the client asks and reinterpret it.” — Rem Koolhaas

02 May 2021 — Although you need a solid understanding of how to design and work with every part of an EA metamodel, you do not need to be an expert in every part of it. Suppose you decided to make every object type into its own domain with its own architect. As an EA, you would be in charge of those architects and how they relate to each other. The metamodel would then be a map of which architects need to work together if they make a change in their domain.

03 May 2021 — If you have problems socialising, settle for less, are unfit, overweight and are not making a constant effort to improve yourself, would you dare try to implement a Constant Improvement Culture?

04 May 2021 — A lot of IT architects think that Enterprise Architecture is about IT. It’s not. Where IT architecture is about flow of information through the enterprise, EA is about the structure of human activity in the enterprise. 

05 May 2021 — If you cannot find beauty in your architecture, are you sure you create architecture?

06 May 2021 — An Enterprise Architect doesn’t have to be the top expert on everything. EA is about team work. For instance, it doesn’t matter if you only know little about Information Architecture because being an expert in it is the job of your Information Architect. As long as you can have a meaningful conversation with them about what you and the other stakeholders need from it, your team will be able to produce good architecture.

07 May 2021 — As an Enterprise Architect, do you need to be the top expert in every domain? No. But you do have to have a strong understanding of every domain’s language. Many of the arguments between domains occur because two domains use the same word to mean different things.

08 May 2021 — “The architect is not only the director, but he is the composer. And, as a composer, the architect brings a sense of creativity to each building.” — Santiago Calatrava

09 May 2021 — In architecture, there is a strong tendency to create rules. If the client needs this then do that. If the environment is this type then respond to it that way. This is especially true in Enterprise Architecture where a considerable number of the people who wrote the literature come from an IT background and try to teach new architects as though they are nothing more than pattern-recognition or stimulus-response machines. Instead of teaching them how to think, they teach them what to think. This misses a fundamental point. Almost all great architecture comes from knowing the rules but being able to think well enough that you can safely break some.

10 May 2021 — When setting a Service Level Agreement, it is common to have tiers such as 1 hour, 1 day, 5 days. When dealing with a bureaucracy, unless you want the service to be slow and frustrating, you should also contractually stipulate that the average will be half those times.

11 May 2021 — Thinking that Enterprise Architecture is about IT is like thinking that building architecture is about the electrical wiring. Both electrical wiring and IT are essential features and have their own architecture but they are not the primary concern. The primary concern of a building architect is the building. The primary concern of an EA is the enterprise. The vast majority of architecture work does not involve the electrical wiring or IT.

12 May 2021 — In building architecture, there is a core of stakeholders: the client, the architect, the project manager and the master builder. This has been honed over millennia and is very successful. Enterprise Architecture can repeat that success using those same core stakeholders.

13 May 2021 — In building construction, there is plenty of room for poetry but little place for sophistry. That means there is also little place for sophistry in building architecture. Enterprise Architecture should aspire to emulate that. 

14 May 2021 — Take a look at your chosen EA metamodel (e.g. the TOGAF one here or the ClassiQ one here) and realise that you have to be a subject matter expert in all of the things in that metamodel. Such an expert that you are able to stitch a combination of them together into a new business operating model.

15 May 2021 — “A building is no good if someone’s got to explain to you why it’s good. You can’t say you don’t know enough about architecture — that’s ridiculous. It’s got to work on many levels.” — David Chipperfield

16 May 2021 — You know that bit in the thriller where the not-too-bright supporting character discovers that the overly-bright lead character has filled a room with clippings and photographs and a spider-web of strings between them all? And we’re supposed to wonder if the lead character has gone mad? There is a terrible secret in Enterprise Architecture: in our heads and in our EA tools, we build the equivalent of rooms like that all the time.

17 May 2021 — If you want to stand on the shoulders of giants, first you have to climb up to their shoulders.

18 May 2021 — Do you need to be the top expert in every domain? No. But you do need to learn each domain’s way of thinking. Architects in one domain can have frustrations with architects in another domain because they think their way of thinking is better. But each domain has its own way of thinking driven by its own needs, often sourced from things deep within that domain. If you understand both ways of thinking, you can resolve those frustrations.

19 May 2021 — There are a lot of disagreements over the “How” of architecture. One architect says it should be done this way, the other says that’s dumb/bad/wrong or whatever. This misses the point that architecture is all about the “What” that is the architecture. Does it matter how you do it if you can produce a model of the architecture that your stakeholders are happy with and can successfully use to build the real thing? Will the result of that build make the people who commissioned the architecture happy?

20 May 2021 — Get rid of any emotional attachment to your proposed architecture. When it comes into contact with others, it will have to change. When it comes time to build the real thing, it will have to change. When it comes into contact with the operational staff, it will have to change. The vast majority of those changes will be an improvement despite the pain they cause at the time. Invest your emotion in the final result not the first model.

21 May 2021 — Whichever way you orient your architecture, whether it’s by process, service, capability, function or whatever, you have to be an expert on that. For instance, if you’re supposed to develop a process-oriented architecture, you have to be an expert on process. How could it be any other way?

22 May 2021 — “Even a brick wants to be something.” — Louis Kahn

23 May 2021 — When your architecture comes into contact with others, it will have to change. This is a good thing. The moment it goes out for review, it stops being architecture and starts being a business proposal. The better the business proposal, the better the resulting architecture.

24 May 2021 — Know your escape routes. When you have a plan ready to build your architecture, ask yourself, do I need a Plan B outlined in case something doesn’t work out? If it looks like your Plan B is going to be used, ask yourself, do I need a Plan C outlined in case Plan B doesn’t work out?

25 May 2021 — When you’re used to creating a Plan B and Plan C for your architecture, it changes how you create your Plan A. Is it more work? Initially, yes. But that work pays off when it comes to a troublesome build. 

26 May 2021 — Is Enterprise Architecture the single biggest advance in coordinated improvement of business operations design in recent history?

27 May 2021 — If Enterprise Architecture is the single largest improvement in the design of business operations in recent decades, is it also the most misunderstood?

28 May 2021 — If Enterprise Architecture is the single largest improvement in the design of business operations in recent decades, what will be the next big leap forward?

29 May 2021 — “Be truthful. Nature only sides with truth.” — Adolf Loos

30 May 2021 — The vast majority of IT architects think that they document what’s on an EA metamodel in order to deliver IT systems. That means someone else has to architect what’s on the metamodel. Traditionally, it’s the senior stakeholders who spend months in meetings thrashing it out. They know their part of the operations but are not architects so the result is something that has to be deciphered. Much of the time the work is passed to junior stakeholders and the result is built on a game of telephone. Because the stakeholders rarely have any significant understanding of IT, the result often fails to take advantage of IT. That is how businesses without EA make changes.
If operations are designed using the metamodel in the first place, there is no need to decipher. To do that, someone well-versed in the metamodel needs to be involved in the design of the operations with the senior stakeholders. If that person has a good understanding of Process Architecture, the operations will be better. If that person models the whole thing, there is no game of telephone. If that person has a good understanding of IT, the designs will make good use of IT from the start. That person is an Enterprise Architect.

31 May 2021 — Which is better architected, a business that has a really good EA team but is losing money or a business that hasn’t even heard of EA but is making a profit?

01 Jun 2021 — If there is anything that turns someone from an engineering mindset to an architecture mindset, it is understanding Business Capability. Despite it being simple, for someone with an engineering mindset it can takes years to grasp the concept if they ever do. A huge number of them never do and many cannot afford to admit it. This may be why there are so many fake capability models out on the web.

02 Jun 2021 — Here is a simple test to find out if you understand Business Capability. What is the main capability delivered by a bicycle?
a. The ability to balance.
b. The ability to pedal.
c. The ability to steer.
d. All of the above.
e. None of the above.

03 Jun 2021 — Enterprise Architects work with operational managers on the operating model. Their architecture team has to be able to move fast and be responsive. If an operational manager wants a change to their part of the business and the EA team keeps them waiting, that EA team is sidelining itself and will be left out of future changes.

04 Jun 2021 — One of the more interesting things about Enterprise Architecture is the effect it can have on terms that were created before EA existed or before the creator was aware of EA. Take the concept of Operating Models which has been around seemingly forever. It is a summary of how a business operates and how it runs itself. Seen through the lens of EA, it becomes possible to recognise that it is the top level of the enterprise architecture. It also becomes possible to recognise that it can be used in a turtles-all-the-way-down fashion because the Business Operating Model is what the board is interested in but a head-of also has an operating model for their department.

05 Jun 2021 — “People can’t be knowledgeable about everything but they can be knowledgeable about the extent of their own ignorance.” — Thomas Sowell

06 Jun 2021 — Take a look at your chosen EA metamodel (e.g. the TOGAF one here or the ClassiQ one here). An Enterprise Architect is someone who can produce a model of the business operations using that metamodel. That model is like a map of how the enterprise fits together. What happens if there is no Enterprise Architect? The same as happened for the millennia before EA existed — business people do their best to put together a design for business operations. EA brings a new level of rigour that was not possible before.

07 Jun 2021 — Every organisation has its own lingo and it often differs considerably from industry standards. You need to be able to hold a concept in your head and be able to use one word to describe it to one person and a different word to describe it to another. It’s a good idea to use the industry standard word to describe the concept to yourself.

08 June 2021 — Whether you call them System Context Diagrams (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_context_diagram) or environment diagrams, once you have built a set for all of your systems and linked them up to your Process Architecture, you quickly realise that Enterprise IT Architecture is much easier than you might have once thought. Not easy, just easier.

09 Jun 2021 — Be fearless in your use and appreciation of your competitors’ products. The best way to understand how to beat them is to know them at least as well as your competitors’ sales team.

10 Jun 2021 — If you’re the smartest person in the meeting, you’re in the wrong meeting.

11 Jun 2021 — If you’re always the smartest person in the meeting, you need to go spend plenty of time in meetings where you’re the dumbest.

12 Jun 2021 — “Whatever good things we build end up building us.” — Jim Rohn

13 Jun 2021 — EA is a loss-making venture. If you want your team to survive, you need to be able to prove that the cost of your EA team is far outweighed by the benefits. If you cannot find that proof, if you cannot tie those benefits to a balance sheet, are you creating architecture or just art?

14 Jun 2021 — As an EA, you should look around at your stakeholders and realise they can do most of this without you. That means you need make sure things they can’t do without you are the things they can’t do without.

15 Jun 2021 — The more rigid the process, the less room there is for thought. If you want your employees to use their brains, make sure there’s plenty of wiggle room for their smartness.

16 Jun 2021 — The more rigid the process, the less room there is for thought. However, there are plenty of times you want that rigidity. If someone is trying to get something done urgently, the last thing they need is to figure out how a loosely-specified process works. If the process involves finance, risk or compliance, you don’t want employees getting creative in their interpretation of the process.

17 Jun 2021 — The more rigid and detailed the process, the deeper you will sink into the mire of bureaucracy and inability to change. If your processes are too detailed, it takes longer to redesign them and longer to unpick them from other detailed processes.

18 Jun 2021 — Enterprise Architecture is about the alignment of business and IT. You can’t do that by only aligning one side. If you want to align the business and IT, you have to redesign both sides and that means an EA has to be at least as well-versed in business as IT.

19 Jun 2021 — “You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledge hammer on the construction site” — Frank Lloyd Wright

20 Jun 2021 — True or False? The vast majority of architects think they’re too smart to need additional training or to pay for outside advice.

21 Jun 2021 — Detailed processes take longer to redesign and longer to unpick from other detailed processes. I call this Drag. You have to be careful with detail in any part of the architecture and only add it where absolutely needed because detail almost always adds Drag.

22 Jun 2021 — Most of the time, a loosely-specified process is all that is needed. The people performing the process are likely to know much more about it than the designer of the process. You can often allow their experience to fill in the details.

23 Jun 2021 — Drag is when too much detail slows down architecture and change. You should be wary of Archimate as its comprehensive nature encourages adding unnecessary detail. In other words, in Archimate it’s very easy to make architecture with a lot of Drag. That cuts both ways as Archimate also makes it very easy to add detail on those few occasions you need it.

24 Jun 2021 — Just because the architecture team gives a loosely defined process to the stakeholders doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Once it’s in their hands, the stakeholders can put in as much detail as they like.

25 Jun 2021 — If you’ve built a Level 5/6 process in a workflow management system, is there any need to also describe it in your EA tool?

26 Jun 2021 — “Any work of architecture which does not express serenity is a mistakes.” — Luis Barragan

27 Jun 2021 — Is your job going to be automated away by a combination of robots, AI and apps? Yes. Does that matter? No. Even if you still have the same job title, the job you do today is not the same as the job you did 5 years ago. The robots, AI and apps are coming for the job you do today not the job you’ll be doing tomorrow. The job you’ll be doing tomorrow will be more productive and enjoyable because of them.

28 Jun 2021 — The quicker you can turn part of the architecture into a black box, the quicker you can hand it off to a more junior team member.

29 Jun 2021 — Some of the biggest problems with a good architecture team are that team taking on too much and being too focussed on things like standards. There are plenty of processes that should be designed and maintained by their business areas. An over-controlling architecture team will take one look at the resulting workflows and complain about non-standard layout or not using the correct notation and claim that’s why it should be left to the architecture team. Which misses the point entirely.

30 Jun 2021 — As an architect, one of the most useful concepts available is that of the black box. If you understand its inputs, outputs and where the black box fits, do you need to understand what goes on inside it?

01 Jul 2021 — Be careful to create a sustainable architecture team. If your team relies on the talent of one or two people and they leave, there is a good chance the team will become dysfunctional. If necessary, reduce the amount of delivered work and aim to build those talents across the rest of the team.

02 Jul 2021 — If a junior architect is about to make a mistake that will only impact that architect, should you point out the mistake or let them make the mistake in order for them to learn and to see how they cope?

03 Jul 2021 — “The desire to reach for the sky runs very deep in the human psyche.” — César Pelli

04 Jul 2021 — There is a vast ocean of knowledge, theory and hypothesis about Enterprise Architecture. Most of it is bunk. The trouble is, it can take years of trying a particular piece of “knowledge” to find that out.

05 Jul 2021 — Black boxes are not real things except in aircraft. The black boxes we use in Enterprise Architecture are notional things; a selection of artefacts that may themselves be notional. They are often arbitrary. Yet there is great power added to the design process by using these things that don’t exist in reality.

06 Jul 2021 — Is your work place a can-do environment or a no-can-do environment? If it’s no-can-do, what are you going to do about it?

07 Jul 2021 — When setting an SLA for the work of a bureaucracy, make sure that you cover the quality of the service. As a way to keep profits up and stats down, many less scrupulous bureaucracies will ensure that more calls have to be raised to fix a problem introduced by them not doing the job properly in the first place.

08 Jul 2021 — Even if you are the smartest person on your team, you are not as smart as the combined efforts of your team.

09 Jul 2021 — Trust your junior team members. They will get things wrong but probably no worse than you did when you were in that role.

10 Jul 2021 — “Life is not about maximizing everything, it’s about giving something back – like light, space, form, serenity, joy. You have to give something back.” — Glenn Murcutt

11 Jul 2021 — The greatest expert on Enterprise Architecture might also be a terrible Enterprise Architect. How is that possible? In the same way that the greatest expert on football might be a terrible footballer. Each has advantages depending on their stakeholders.

12 Jul 2021 — You can only have Enterprise Architecture through modelling and you can only be an Enterprise Architect through your ability to model an enterprise. In order to model an enterprise, you must understand that enterprise and how enterprises can be redesigned.

13 Jul 2021 — In all forms of architecture, models are central. Although they have many uses, it could be argued that their primary use is communication.

14 Jul 2021 — Why are there so few true Enterprise Architecture roles out there? Because most enterprises have no idea what an EA is or does. Not least because they’ve probably got a set of IT architects who think it’s what they do.

15 Jul 2021 — Have you ever watched an episode of Grand Designs or similar where the costs keep racking up because the client keeps changing their mind mid-build? That’s the building trade’s equivalent of Agile.

16 Jul 2021 — If you want to understand architecture, one fun way to either add to your understanding or at least confirm it is to watch Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. There is no harm in persuading your senior stakeholders to watch it so they understand the flagstone floor problem.

17 Jul 2021 — “My architecture is easy to understand and enjoy, I hope it also is hard to forget.” — Oscar Niemeyer

18 Jul 2021 — There would be far fewer arguments if architects drew a stronger distinction between architecture and the techniques used to produce it. The techniques vary hugely between architects but Enterprise Architecture has remained mostly the same for 25 years.

19 Jul 2021 — Only when you look at an aggregate of the wiring of a Level 3 process or above can you can truly comprehend the complexity of Enterprise Architecture and Roadmapping.

20 Jul 2021 — Persuading people to do things they want to do is not leadership. Especially if they are being paid to do it. Persuading people without deception to do something that they don’t want to do is leadership. Especially if they are not being paid to do it.

21 Jul 2021 — There’s a limited market for Enterprise Architects because most business people are convinced they’re quite capable of designing business operations on their own. Are they wrong?

22 Jul 2021 — Is it better to train your architects so well that they leave for another opportunity or to keep your architects mediocre?

23 Jul 2021 — Architects need to project confidence. Underneath that confidence, many architects seem to be a bag of uncertainty. Is that because there is a huge amount of work that might have to be redone on the whim of a stakeholder? Or because a good architect knows just how many things could go wrong? Or is it that the profession attracts those with imposter syndrome? There could be a thousand reasons and it’s probably a combination. Whatever it is, understand that you are far from alone.

24 Jul 2021 — “Architecture begins where engineering ends” — Walter Gropius

25 Jul 2021 — The core communication and design tool of an Enterprise Architect is the model. An EA must be able to model business operations and coordinate the effort to model future business operations. In order to do that, an EA must be an expert on the subject of business operations.

26 Jul 2021 — A business is always for sale. The only question is the price. If it’s not for sale, it’s a hobby not a business.

27 Jul 2021 — Sooner or later, you’re going to make the wrong choice of candidate when hiring an architect onto your team. You’ll end up with someone who is never going to fit no matter how much effort you put in to redirect them. The big question is, do you have a plan on how to deal with that? Because architects tend to be sensitive souls and firing one will have an emotional impact on both of you.

28 Jul 2021 — Your enterprise security is only as strong as its weakest point. There are people and programs constantly trying to find that weakest point.

29 Jul 2021 — Architecture is often a reflection of the politics and the soul of the architect.

30 Jul 2021 — One of the faster ways to tell that someone really hasn’t a clue about Enterprise Architecture is if they say good things about Unified Architecture Framework. If you thought TOGAF was bad…

31 Jul 2021 — “I don’t see any difference between architecture and engineering. It’s the same profession.” — Santiago Calatrava

01 Aug 2021 — If you think have created something new to Enterprise Architecture, 90% of the time, you will discover someone else thought of it first. 9% of the time, it might genuinely be new but no one will listen. Live for the 1%.

02 Aug 2021 — Sooner or later, months of architecture work will be dismissed as worthless. Possibly by someone unqualified to judge but with the power of veto. Or it will turn out you just didn’t understand enough to put forward a good design. Or the stakeholders will be having a bad day and take it out on you. Or a vendor will turn out to be full of it and leave you with egg on your face. Or any one of a thousand other things can go wrong on a large or small scale. An architect must be resilient. 

03 Aug 2021 — The more complex the metamodel, the slower the architecture work.

04 Aug 2021 — “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” — Niels Bohr
All of strategy is a response to predictions about the future.

05 Aug 2021 — It’s often easier to convince someone they are something they aren’t than to wake them to what they are.

06 Aug 2021 — When it comes to security, it pays to look for real-world parallels. Far too many networks assume that everyone on the network is meant to be there. This is roughly equivalent to leaving all of the doors unlocked on an industrial estate because you have a fence and a gate guard.

07 Aug 2021 — “When I go spend time on the factory floor or really using the cars or thinking about the rockets… that’s where things have gone better.” — Elon Musk

08 Aug 2021 — Architecture can be like art; if you have to explain why it’s good, it’s probably not good.

09 Aug 2021 — When you send data out to be processed by a third party, a surprising number of systems do not verify that the data returned is a processed version of the data that was sent.

10 Aug 2021 — If you only have one message queue system or ESB, you need to work on your understanding of messages and messaging.

11 Aug 2021 — Should you trust data that arrives on your network unexpectedly? We all know the answer to that question. Now ask yourself, how many of your systems check that the data they process was expected?

12 Aug 2021 — If a system sends data out to be processed by a third party and does not verify the data returned is a processed version of the data that was sent, how much should you trust that data? For instance, would you run your payroll that way?

13 Aug 2021 — Your government doesn’t let you leave the country and return without a passport. At least, not without doing significant work to check your identity. Should your network treat data the same way?

14 Aug 2021 — “Architecture has recorded the great ideas of the human race. Not only every religious symbol but every human thought has its page in that vast book.” — Victor Hugo

15 Aug 2021 — Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise IT Architecture are two very different things. If you build a model of the business using an EA metamodel for your EITA work, it will only slow you down.

16 Aug 2021 — Honesty is second only to tact in architecture.

17 Aug 2021 — Enterprise Architecture is a meeting point. It’s where strategy, business operations, governance, risk, compliance, business change, IT and programme management get together to figure out how to work as one.

18 Aug 2021 — Enterprise Architecture is a meeting point for strategy, business operations, governance, risk, compliance, business change, IT and programme management. An Enterprise Architect is the person who must persuade and coordinate them to work as one.

19 Aug 2021 — Used the right way, Enterprise Architecture can cut out huge chunks of bureaucracy and useless middle-management. Used the wrong way, it can make both of those bloat.

20 Aug 2021 — There are those who dream and those who build. You must often leave the build to others but the dreams are all yours.

21 Aug 2021 — “Each new situation requires a new architecture.” — Jean Nouvel

22 Aug 2021 — One of the things that might bother you as an Enterprise Architect is the simple question, where is Finance in all of this? There is nothing in the average metamodel about operating expenditure despite that being one of the most important things. It is correct that there is no place in most metamodels for opex and that’s in both senses. It shouldn’t be there. You should use your brain and figure out why.

23 Aug 2021 — You can still respect another architect even if you don’t agree with them. Given the amount of arguments in architecture circles, the entire profession would have disbanded long ago if that weren’t the case.

24 Aug 2021 — In Enterprise Architecture, the only thing set in stone is that nothing is set in stone. And even then…

25 Aug 2021 — Why are EA and EITA two different things and not merged? Because they have different goals, approaches and deliverables. EA produces designs of new business operations including how those operations support the rest of the business and where those operations use IT. Whereas EITA produces designs of IT systems including how those systems integrate with the rest of the IT systems, platforms, etc. EA and EITA are separate but complementary.

26 Aug 2021 — Enterprise Architecture frameworks are used by some as a substitute for thinking. If all you want is a pattern to follow, architecture may not be the profession for you. 

27 Aug 2021 — If you can’t get people to listen to your “great” ideas, logically, if they really are great, the problem is not with the ideas.

28 Aug 2021 — “Everything inspires me; sometimes I think I see things others don’t.” — Norman Foster

29 Aug 2021 — If you go back in time to Ancient Rome or even further back to Ancient Greece, most of the thoughts needed for successful architecture, culture, philosophy and politics had been resolved. The trouble is, it can take a smart person forty or fifty years of constant learning to understand those ancients. Let alone reproduce the thoughts and potentially push them forward. This is why so much of architecture, culture, philosophy and politics repeats the same mistakes that led those ancient people to think these things through all of those thousands of years ago.

30 Aug 2021 — We are barely at the stage of building extensions from our caves but many Enterprise Architects and framework authors will try to convince you that they have learned all there is to learn. It is up to you to push the profession forward.

31 Aug 2021 — All enterprises have an architecture but do they all need an Enterprise Architect? No. While EA might bring discipline, it is only truly useful in large-scale, complex change.

01 Sep 2021 — One of the catchphrases of Enterprise Architecture is that it is the alignment of business and IT. A lot of IT people hear that and get all breathless because it mentions IT so they think it must be about IT. Except it’s not. The verb is alignment and that’s where most of the work is.

02 Sep 2021 — It’s not just how your architecture deals with its expected work that matters but also how it deals out-of-band problems.

03 Sep 2021 — Is there room for more than one Enterprise Architect in an organisation? Yes. Depending on the complexity of change and transformation, one per directorate makes sense or maybe even one per major programme.

04 Sep 2021 — “Nothing like that warm and fuzzy Soviet architecture… Pretty much as close to the Klingon home world as you’re gonna get.” — Josh Gates

05 Sep 2021 — One of the most undervalued and underused processes is reconciliation. It is essential if you want to be able to trust data that has left the network to be processed and has returned.

06 Sep 2021 — There is perhaps nothing that gives a better example of the cowboy nature of IT departments than the misappropriation of the term GRC. It has close to nothing to do with IT as you can easily see if you read the Wikipedia page. Yet some ignoramus decided it was really all about IT security and that ignorance spread like wildfire through IT departments around the world. There are now more security architects claiming to be doing GRC than actual GRC specialists. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governance,_risk_management,_and_compliance

07 Sep 2021 — Enterprise Architecture is a journey down not just one path but a thousand overgrown paths. Many prospective EAs will claim that the path they are on is the one true path. You cannot see where those paths lead until you have walked down all of them. Then you will discover that there is no one true path, that lots of the paths go around in circles and many are dead ends. Yet somehow, once you have walked all those paths, the journey to EA seems simple and obvious.

08 Sep 2021 — The ability to see the enterprise as a flow of information is essential for an Enterprise Architect but it’s not the only way. Most IT people make terrible EAs because they can only see the business as a flow of information. It’s what gets hammered into you in IT. To be a good EA, you must also be able to see the enterprise in other ways such as a flow of activity or a gathering of capabilities. It took three years of patient mentoring for me to escape the mental trap of information flow. If you’re in that mental trap, how quickly will you escape it?

09 Sep 2021 — Should you take anything about Enterprise Architecture on faith? No. Not from anyone. Including me. Unfortunately, until you can see the whole picture and explain it back to first principles, you will have to take a huge number of things on faith. Be pragmatic and only take things on faith if you can see that others have had good results.

10 Sep 2021 — Building architects produce drawings, models and all kinds of documents. Everyone can look at them and agree what will be built. Enterprise Architects do the same thing for the same reason.

11 Sep 2021 — “I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good.” — Mies Van de Rohe

12 Sep 2021 — A business is far more than just the flow of information. If you can only think of it that way, the exec will always keep you at arm’s length. That’s if they will have anything to do with you at all.

13 Sep 2021 — Changing a business can be complex. The more complex the change, the more you need an Enterprise Architect.

14 Sep 2021 — Words have meanings and business terms have very specific meanings. Digital Transformation is not called IT Transformation because it’s not about IT even though that is how it is implemented.

15 Sep 2021 — Transformation and Change are two different things. All transformations are changes but not all changes are transformations.

16 Sep 2021 — Your enterprise is not perfectly architected and may never be. However, it got its current architecture from the good intentions of people who made the best decisions they could with the understanding they had.

17 Sep 2021 — Digital Transformation is a fundamental change in the business model from mostly off-line to mostly on-line. Where Digitisation and Digitalisation look at individual processes and put them on a computer, DT looks at the entire business product/service portfolio and reimagines it… A company rents DVDs by mail. Think of all the processes involved in doing that, from putting DVDs in envelopes to stock-keeping to maintaining the warehouse to scanning returns. Digitisation and/or Digitalisation would find ways to improve those processes. But this is Netflix. They moved the films online and closed the DVDs by mail part of the business. All of those old processes are gone.

18 Sep 2021 — “For us to deem a work of architecture elegant, it is hence not enough that it look simple: we must feel that the simplicity it displays has been hard won, that it flows from the resolution of demanding technical or natural predicament.” — Alain de Botton

19 Sep 2021 — Before moving to the business consulting side of things a decade ago, much of my time from 1986 onwards was spent with one foot in IT. For that entire time, according to the doomsayers, technology was going to put everyone out of a job. You know what actually happened? Unemployment halved and individual productivity went through the roof. Yet the doomsayers are still at it.

20 Sep 2021 — Most of the time, it pays to assume that the people who earn more than you are given that money for a good reason.

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