Architecture Thoughts of the day

Thoughts of the Day 2022

01 Jan 2022 — “It is not an individual act, architecture. You have to consider your client. Only out of that can you produce great architecture. You cannot work in the abstract.” — I. M. Pei

02 Jan 2022 — No one person can truly understand their enterprise. It would be impossible. Even experts in narrow fields have gaps in their knowledge about their expertise so how could you be expected to understand your enterprise when it’s composed of the combined actions of hundreds or thousands of experts? At best you can understand a summary of their actions. This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to understand your key stakeholders’ needs. By spreading the load, you’re crowd-sourcing the understanding of the enterprise. 

03 Jan 2022 — If you don’t think things through for yourself, who’s doing your thinking for you?

04 Jan 2022 — Strategy is the art of the military general. At its core, it is a plan to take territory from your enemies and secure victory over them.

05 Jan 2022 — There are always written requirements for an architecture that anyone can read. To be a good architect, you also need to read your stakeholders’ unwritten requirements.

06 Jan 2022 — Enterprise Architecture is the architecture of the enterprise. The architecture of business operations make up most of EA and the surface-level architecture of IT is only one corner of the subject. While the business operations need to be covered in depth, the depths of the IT side are best left to IT architects.

07 Jan 2022 — What is Enterprise Architecture? It is both the architecture of *the* enterprise and the architecture of *an* enterprise. The first is the architecture of the whole enterprise, the second is the architecture of a change to it. Only when you have described the architecture of the whole enterprise can you get a true grasp on changes to it.

08 Jan 2022 — “The reason for the difference between the architectural and engineering ‘climate’, so to speak, is very complex. It is partly a matter of terminology, partly a matter of historical accident, and the consequent training of architects and engineers, and mostly a matter of what is commonly supposed to be the difference in content or context — architecture being concerned with producing works of art; engineering with utility structures.” — Yanni Alexander Loukissas

09 Jan 2022 — Unless a citation in a paper is to a set of data and how to reproduce the results, it’s probably argumentum ad verecundiam; effectively a way of saying it must be true because someone important said it. You only have to look at politicians to understand why that’s a bad idea. Arguments from authority can be true but it’s better to think of them in terms of probability. An authority-figure said it was true so it’s possible and worth investigating but maybe it’s not true for us.

10 Jan 2022 — If you are not the originator of an idea, are you qualified to review it? If the idea comes from a different domain, do you understand enough of that domain? Should you refuse to work with ideas you don’t understand or is work with them an inevitable part of architecture?

11 Jan 2022 — We all know the main texts of architecture but they are just the surface level of our trade. Every architect needs to have at least some education in psychology, economics, philosophy, statistics, art, sculpture, ergonomics and law. What else would you add to that list?

12 Jan 2022 — Unless you have a monopoly, all of business is a beauty pageant. Are your competitors’ products or services attractive? Are yours more attractive than theirs? Is your business more attractive than theirs? One of the many reasons that monopolies are bad is the products and services are able to become ugly. The pursuit of beauty is a good thing.

13 Jan 2022 — And, Or, Xor and Not. These are basis of all computers. It’s quite possible to completely understand them but not even remotely understand how you could use them to add two numbers. Let alone understand the architecture of the most basic CPU. People can understand the building blocks but miss it’s the structure that makes the difference. This is analogous to what happens with many people when they look at Process Architecture (what TOGAF mistakenly calls Business Architecture). They look at the components and understand them but miss the structure. And it’s the structure that makes the difference.

14 Jan 2022 — Growing up in a family of journalists meant early lessons that politicians on both sides lie and most media outlets promote one set of lies or the other. If you just hear one side, you have no idea what’s really happening in the world. You have to hear the news from both sides to get an honest idea of reality. If you only hear one side, there’s a strong chance you will make worse decisions than if you didn’t hear any news at all. Architecture requires honesty. That means you have to listen to all sides. You don’t have to agree with them but you do have to listen. And make an honest attempt to understand.

15 Jan 2022 — “If Nature had been comfortable, mankind would never have invented architecture.” — Oscar Wilde

16 Jan 2022 — Pretty much every day, there’s a story about how some company left an AWS S3 bucket open to the world and huge amounts of unencrypted data was given away. For that to happen, whoever configured the S3 did it deliberately. They might not have intended for the data to be made public but it takes a deliberate act. Security starts at the highest level so, as an Enterprise Architect, you have to be able to not just understand Security Architecture but be good enough at it that security is built in to the very foundations of how you work. Forget the books on business improvement until you know how to keep one secure.

17 Jan 2022 — According to BIZBOK, these are the core aspects of Business Architecture.

A Business Architect helps to formulate them. For instance, they are someone involved in the formulation of company policies. It means working with the exec and is a very senior role.

18 Jan 2022 — Give a man a fish and he’ll waste half then moan unless you give him another one tomorrow. Let a man work for a fish and he’ll appreciate it.

19 Jan 2022 — Process Architecture is one of the fundamental structures of business operations. In an org chart, you have the people who do the actual work; above them are the management and support structures that ensure the work can be done well. BPMN and similar flowcharts are for the actual work; above them are the governance and other structures that ensure the work can be done well. Those structures are the Process Architecture. They contain far more than just the processes.

20 Jan 2022 — Architecture requires structure. Process, people, capability, information, server, value stream, motivation, function, application, event, etc… these are all the equivalent of materials like bricks or planks. The structure comes from how you fit them together. Putting two bricks together does not make a building. Putting two processes together is not structure. But it is a start. Structure comes from putting hundreds or even thousands of them together.

21 Jan 2022 — What is the difference between a model of the business and the business model? The problem is the word “model” has two different definitions here. Model of the business uses “something built or drawn to show how something much larger would look” like an architect’s plans. Whereas business model uses “an approach or way of doing something” like a school education model.

22 Jan 2022 — “Living in new shapes, reshapes our thinking.” — Lois Farfel Stark

23 Jan 2022 — Enterprise Architecture — the architecture of the business operating model — faces a mortal threat because so many people deliberately pretend it’s just the latest incarnation of IT architecture either through ignorance or to make a quick buck. Often both. Business Architecture — the architecture of the business model — faces a similar mortal threat because so many people deliberately pretend it’s just the latest incarnation of Business Analysis. Again, either through ignorance or to make a quick buck. Again, often both. There is a major difference though. Where the mortal threat to Enterprise Architecture is invariably about dragging it back to 90s IT architecture by downplaying everything that’s not IT, the mortal threat to Business Architecture comes from people adding skills to Business Analysts. These opposite kinds of threat point to major gaps in the market of ideas. Profitable gaps. Profitable gaps that, if filled, would remove the threat to the biggest leap forward in business design.

24 Jan 2022 — The exception never proves the rule; it disproves the rule. It could show the rule might apply in general but not always in specific edge cases. Maybe, maybe not. The rule is disproved. An architect can be undone by this. A smart architect can also take advantage of it.

25 Jan 2022 — The external beauty of your business is the responsibility of your Brand Manager but not theirs alone. If your business is known as a good place to work, that adds to the beauty. The beauty is the surface; the appeal the business has to those outside of it. That surface is supported by the structures architects help to create. All of this is teamwork.

26 Jan 2022 — Think of Enterprise Architecture like Physics or Chemistry or Economics. If someone had done less than three years of full-time eduction in Physics but claimed to be a Physicist, you wouldn’t believe them. Now imagine they only went on a five day course and claimed to be a certified Physicist. What does that tell you about that person? What does it tell you about the people who gave the certification? It’s the same for EA. That’s before we get to the people who haven’t even been on a five day course but claim to be an architect.

27 Jan 2022 — One of the things that constantly amazes me is so many IT people think Enterprise Architecture is an IT thing. A typical enterprise has at least 1000 apps in play and most of them are standalone. The architecture of standalone apps is a list. Maybe in alphabetical order if you want to be nice.

28 Jan 2022 — If you have 1000+ apps and 800 of them are standalone, that means 200 of them are integrated. Surely that’s where EITA happens? In some ways yes but in most ways no. When you switch to using System Environment Diagrams (AKA System Context Diagrams) you eventually realise there is no EITA. There are 200 individual architectures that talk to each other. Trying to build an EITA is incredibly stressful because it’s not really a thing. It looks like it should be a thing; surely all of those systems that talk to each other form a single system; an architecture? But no. What they form is not an architecture but a network of interconnected systems.

29 Jan 2022 — “One afternoon he started to talk about his collection of books. Of 3000 books, he found only 30 worth keeping. We were all ready to take notes, expecting Mies to tell us the titles of those 30 books. Mies, instead, with a big smile on his face told us they were important only to him and we must find our own 30 by ourselves.” — Werner Blaser

30 Jan 2022 — Some things cannot be learned quickly. In IT, the pressure is on to deliver. That means IT people are trained to walk into a meeting and have the start of the grasp on a subject within an hour. This is a double-edged sword. It’s great for delivering IT systems but it builds a bad habit in a lot of people. They get used to it and think they can pick up the basics of anything in an hour. Enterprise Architecture takes years to grasp. This often seems to cause cognitive dissonance in people who are used to grasping the basics in an hour. They cannot pick it up in an hour so it must be fake. Or it must be limited to the bits they did understand in an hour. Some things take a long time to learn even for the smartest people.

31 Jan 2022 — You can judge a book by its cover most of the time. There are tons of people employed specifically to create book covers to aid your judgement. This goes doubly for you as a person. Unless you have an incredible reputation, how you appear to others matters for exactly the same reason. You are the person specifically employed to aid their judgement.

01 Feb 2022 — When an architect prefers Service over Process orientation, this is no different than a building architect preferring concrete over brick. Both have their advantages but, in the long run, they both fade into the background while the structure remains.

02 Feb 2022 — A good knowledge of Data Architecture, Applications Architecture and Infrastructure Architecture are not enough to become an Enterprise Architect. Business Analysis skills are essential but not still won’t get you there. It’s not until you have become an expert in Process Architecture (what TOGAF mistakenly calls Business Architecture) that you can claim to be an EA.

03 Feb 2022 — Process Architecture is not the same as Business Analysis. Where a Business Analyst might draw BPMN diagrams, a Process Architect is responsible for the structure that allows all of the BPMN diagrams across the entire business to be connected. Not just connected to each other but connected to all of the main concepts in use in the business, e.g. to the org chart, the management reporting, the objectives, etc.

04 Feb 2022 — The upper three quarters of the TOGAF metamodel is all about the business. Someone with an understanding of Business Analysis should understand most if not all of those boxes. That’s not enough for an Enterprise Architect. An EA needs to be able to architect the operations of a business using them. Not draw a flowchart of what a few people do but an architecture that shows what the whole business does.

05 Feb 2022 — “The fate of the architect is the strangest of all in this way. How often he expends his whole soul, his whole heart and passion, to produce buildings into which he himself may never enter.” — Goethe

06 Feb 2022 — If a strategy failed for one business, it will probably fail for them all. On a microcosm, a greengrocer down the road from me went bust because of a lack of customers. Someone decided to re-open it and went bust a few months later. Businesses do this all the time. Governments do this all the time. Voters vote for this all the time. Part of your job as an Enterprise Architect is to warn others; to be smart enough to spot it and clearly articulate the strategy is a bad one. Most of the time, people won’t listen. You have to try anyway. Don’t push it and never say told you so.

07 Feb 2022 — Bricks, wood and glass are materials to a building architect. A building architect shows how those materials can be structured to make a whole building. People, process and technology are materials to an Enterprise Architect. Those materials can be structured to make a whole business.

08 Feb 2022 — Why are Environment (System Context) diagrams such an important change? Because they don’t confuse the system with the network. They work by simply showing the system and what connects to it. The system sits in the middle; inputs come in from the left and outputs go out to the right; storage goes below; and users are on top. No lines leave the diagram.

You might look at the diagram and ask, “but where does System 4 get its data?” The answer can be found on the Environment diagram for System 4.

09 Feb 2022 — If your business is steadily sidelining your Enterprise Architecture team, the problem is not the business. The business is trying to protect itself from what it perceives as damage caused by your EA team. That perception may or may not be true, either way it means you have work to do to fix it.

10 Feb 2022 — Unless you can explain someone’s argument in a way they would agree with, you have no idea whether or not they have a point.

11 Feb 2022 — Suppose 500 people each deposit £1000 in a bank. The bank gives you a mortgage to buy a £500,000 house. The original depositors still have their £500,000. You have a £500,000 house. And the seller now also has £500,000. Has all that extra money just magically appeared? No. And you need to understand enough economics to explain far more complex scenarios than this. Money can be in many places at once. Including the future.

12 Feb 2022 — “Architecture is a fuzzy amalgamation of ancient knowledge and contemporary practice, an awkward way to look at the world and an inadequate medium to operate on it. Any architectural project takes five years; no single enterprise — ambition, intention, need — remains unchanged in the contemporary maelstrom. Architecture is too slow. Yes, the word ‘architecture’ is still pronounced with certain reverence (outside the profession). It embodies the lingering hope — or the vague memory of a hope — that shape, form, coherence could be imposed on the violent surf of information that washes over us daily. Maybe, architecture doesn’t have to be stupid after all. Liberated from the obligation to construct, it can become a way of thinking about anything — a discipline that represents relationships, proportions, connections, effects, the diagram of everything.” — Rem Koolhaas

13 Feb 2022 — There is a simple test whether you understand Enterprise Architecture or not. If you were given an EA tool and asked to model of how your entire enterprise works — from the board to the post room — using all of an EA metamodel, could you do it?

14 Feb 2022 — A lot of people have some very strange ideas about architecture that involve the architect and their ego being more important than the client. That’s not how it works. Clients tell architects what they need and architects work to ensure those needs are met. The client is never the only stakeholder so there are lots of other needs to be met. The architect’s needs are last on the list and their ego should be nowhere.

15 Feb 2022 — Some of the most famous and rich CEOs in the world earned that job title in their teens and carried on from there. Yet there are still plenty of “experts” who will say you can’t be an Enterprise Architect until you have decades of experience. The country that figures out how to turn EA into a three year university course for wannabe business leaders will rule the world.

16 Feb 2022 — The process hierarchy has multiple levels. My training was 0-6 but there are many different numbering standards. When you understand one, you understand them all. This is the structure that allows you to connect decisions made by the board with what happens at the coal face.

17 Feb 2022 — What is a metamodel? You can see the core Archimate metamodel here:
And you can download the free Archi tool here:
The Archimate metamodel is the schema for the database used in Archi.

18 Feb 2022 — How many things went wrong at work today? Now stop and think about how many went right. Even on a bad day, the things that went wrong were trivial compared with the number of things that went right.

19 Feb 2022 — “It may sound ridiculous to say that Bell and his successors were the fathers of modern commercial architecture — of the skyscraper. But wait a minute. Take the Singer Building, the Flatiron Building, the Broad Exchange, the Trinity, or any of the giant office buildings. How many messages do you suppose go in and out of those buildings every day? Suppose there was no telephone and every message had to be carried by a personal messenger? How much room do you think the necessary elevators would leave for offices? Such structures would be an economic impossibility.” — John J. Carty

20 Feb 2022 — Suppose your business develops a huge piece of software. So big it involves hundreds of developers and there are always parts of it under development. Suppose the Software Architect says they only do designs for the parts under development and don’t keep a design for the whole thing. Are you nervous yet? How long before it goes off the rails? Or has it already gone off the rails? You don’t know and neither does the Software Architect. Now think about the fact so many people who claim to be an Enterprise Architect also claim they don’t need to keep a design for the whole enterprise.

21 Feb 2022 — Does modelling an enterprise make you an architect? No. Modelling is the work of a draughtsman. However, if you want to be an architect, you must learn to be a draughtsman because your model is how you communicate the architecture.

22 Feb 2022 — Your model is how you communicate the architecture. It is how you collaborate with other architects. It is something you can query in order to analyse the architecture. It allows you to experiment and visualise. There is no Enterprise Architecture without models.

23 Feb 2022 — Neither Achimate nor TOGAF teach you how to architect anything. Archimate is a notation system for drawing architectures in the same way BPMN is a notation system for drawing flowcharts. TOGAF is a framework not architecture. Despite both being standards from The Open Group, they are not even compatible with each other.

24 Feb 2022 — Truth in architecture isn’t a single set of knowledge, it’s a direction you surf through the vast sea of knowledge.

25 Feb 2022 — A lot of IT architects are surprised that IT only appears at the bottom of the process hierarchy. If level 0 is the board, how come IT is all the way down at level 5 and below? Just because it’s at the bottom of the hierarchy doesn’t change its importance. We spend millions on IT for a reason.

26 Feb 2022 — “What is intellectually interesting about visions are their assumptions and their reasoning, but what is socially crucial is the extent to which they are resistant to evidence.” — Thomas Sowell

27 Feb 2022 — Every enterprise is different. Even in the same markets producing similar products or services, there are huge differences between them. That makes it hard to show business leaders an architecture which clicks with them unless you can show them the architecture of their own enterprise.

28 Feb 2022 — The shaman thinks if he wiggles his hips just right, the lightning will come. It worked once therefore it will work again. Enterprise Architecture and the broader topic of business both have an awful lot of shaman. People who worked hard and had a successful outcome but have a false idea of what delivered that outcome. Many of them are keen to teach you how to wiggle your hips. Make sure you learn from someone who can teach you how to build a lightning rod and do a weather forecast. 

01 Mar 2022 — Why do EA tools matter? Why do you need a model of the complete enterprise? Because without them you’re just back to old-fashioned, 90s-style top-down design and inaccurate impact assessments that take months. With an EA tool and a complete model, impact assessments are accurate and take hours. This allows you to What-If potential strategies faster than your competitors. The complete model means middle-out and bottom-up designs can seamlessly fit with the strategy or even help to drive it.

02 Mar 2022 — Digital Transformation is inevitable. The big question is, should your business shutter its non-Digital As-Is? There is a strong argument for ignoring Digital Transformation; to instead build something completely new. Let the old As-Is keep on and gently fizzle away with time. That route requires more investment but will be less disruptive and may have less risk.

03 Mar 2022 — When action is impossible, make plans. The moment action becomes possible again, you will have a plan. The one with a plan is the one ready to move the fastest.

04 Mar 2022 — If you aim to become an Enterprise Architect, you need to learn how to draw a summary of the business operations for the board. You also need to learn how to draw a detailed design of the work done by individuals at the bottom of the hierarchy. Then you need to learn how connect those. That means you need to learn how to draw a summary of the business operations of every level in-between.

05 Mar 2022 — “Spaces that at first may appear to reflect a simple condition are much more complex when the actions of individuals and groups are factored in. These unique patterns of movement through space can and should guide the architecture we build to serve them.” — Catie Marron

06 Mar 2022 — A cargo ship is mostly designed by engineers. However, that’s just the ship. What will the crew do? Who will manage the crew? Who will decide where the ship goes? How will the ship navigate? What ports will it visit? What cargo will it carry in order to make a profit? Who will find the customers? The ship itself may be mostly designed by engineers but it’s only a small part of the picture. The same is true in Enterprise Architecture. Some parts of the enterprise are designed by engineers but their view is as narrow as the engineers who design a cargo ship. Engineers do great work but an architect needs to understand the rest of the enterprise.

07 Mar 2022 — Even if you know more than anyone else about a topic, others may know more about specific parts.

08 Mar 2022 — If you only have one plan, it might work. But when it comes in contact with reality, it might also be a dead end. Make lots of plans. Then you have options no matter what reality throws at you.

09 Mar 2022 — Presentation matters. At the top of business, you might hope for a meritocracy. In most ways, it is but probably several levels beyond what you expect. If you hope to be promoted and someone else of equal skill is your rival, you’d better go to the gym more often than they do. You’d better wear nicer clothes. You’d better hone your charm. Because if there are two equally capable candidates but one is more healthy, presentable and charming, guess who will get the job?

10 Mar 2022 — Get fast at making and changing plans. It means you can adapt no matter what reality throws at you.

11 Mar 2022 — The easiest way to kill off Business Architecture or Enterprise Architecture is to put them under the CIO. It would be an example of the tail trying to wag the dog… like IT is trying to tell people how to run the business. Key stakeholders will sideline it. Business Architecture or Enterprise Architecture need to be independent internal consultancies for them to be taken seriously.

12 Mar 2022 — “But architects are not makers of public policy and, while they can design whatever they please, they can build only what a client wants to pay for.” — Paul Goldberger

13 Mar 2022 — As an architect, you must have a strong understanding of all the main concepts and the words used to describe them. You must also be prepared that you will be the only one who consistently uses the words correctly.

14 Mar 2022 — Probably the biggest question in Enterprise Architecture is, how do so many people become TOGAF certified without understanding TOGAF?

15 Mar 2022 — There’s a big difference between architecture and design. Enterprise Architecture needs an EA tool. You can’t do it without one. You can do design work without an EA tool but not architecture. 

16 Mar 2022 — One of the many reasons it’s a bad idea to put Business Architecture or Enterprise Architecture under the CIO is the team it will accumulate. Under the CIO, most of the architects will be drawn from IT because they’re the familiar faces. That might work in a tech business but in almost any other industry, it will quickly relegate the architecture team to IT architecture work. Business Architects need to be drawn from the exec, Enterprise Architects can be drawn from across the business and IT architects should be allowed to play to their strengths building great IT architectures. 

17 Mar 2022 — When you are fast at making and changing plans, remember that direction is more important. If you change your plans every time there is a storm, you might be agile but you might also be directionless. Sometimes you have to head straight through the storm.

18 Mar 2022 — The second best way to get promoted is to make those above you look so good they get headhunted for much better paid jobs. The best way to get promoted is to teach this philosophy to those below you.

19 Mar 2022 — “[I learned[ From Diognetus, to shun vain pursuits, not to be led away with the impostures of wizards and sooth-sayers, who pretend they can discharge evil spirits, and do strange feats by the strength of a charm” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

20 Mar 2022 — Enterprises are not static things so why would a static diagram be any use to describe one?

21 Mar 2022 — Imagine the scenario. A factory worker asks a building architect what the architect does. The building architect says they design factory buildings. The factory worker asks the architect to sketch a factory. The factory worker looks at the sketch and says it looks nothing like the factory they work in then claims architecture must be a load of rubbish. This is what a lot of conversations are like to an EA. Architecture needs imagination and many stakeholders simply cannot understand that level of abstraction.

22 Mar 2022 — Enterprise Architecture is not like physical architecture. Where physical architecture resides in 4 dimensions, EA is n-dimensional. If you want to understand it, you need to be able to think in more than 4 dimensions. It’s easier than it sounds but takes work to achieve.

23 Mar 2022 — Enterprise Architecture connects the smallest of details with the biggest of the big pictures. They are all part of one structure.

24 Mar 2022 — If what you call Enterprise Architecture is the same as what you were doing in the 90s as business and IT practices but with a few new buzzwords, guess what? That isn’t EA. The big attraction of EA is that it provides a new way that was impossible in the 90s.

25 Mar 2022 — There are otherwise smart people who cannot imagine how Enterprise Architecture is done and conclude, if they can’t understand it, it cannot be real. This is especially true in organisations where EA has never been practiced or they’ve misnamed their EITA as EA. This can be deeply disappointing and frustrating but remember smart people tend to be smart only in a few directions. Chemistry is an unknown country to many mathematicians.

26 Mar 2022 — “We are what we build.” — Lois Farfel Stark

27 Mar 2022 — If Enterprise Architecture is n-dimensional, how do you think in n-dimensions? One way is to temporarily limit your degrees of freedom. We are used to 3 dimensions where we can move from A to B at any angle through space. We also get to see the world around us change as we move. To think n-dimensionally, you pick an n-dimensional direction, visualise all of the other dimensions as a 2D picture, travel along the chosen dimension then turn the 2D picture back into its correct number of dimensions. The only dimension that is always present is time because we can imagine a move forwards or backwards in time no matter which other dimensions are involved. 

28 Mar 2022 — The big leap forward in the architecture of business operations did not happen at the bottom of the stack. We’ve known how to architect things at the detail levels for at least a century. We’ve known how to organise the top of the business for far longer. What Enterprise Architecture brought was the ability to connect the levels in a queryable database. When you can use data analysis techniques to examine the structure of your business, everything changes.

29 Mar 2022 — Almost every solution architecture will involve applications of some sort. Hopefully, you’ll get to reuse existing apps because that’s usually the cheapest option. 

30 Mar 2022 — When a building architect draws a wall, they don’t draw the individual bricks. The exact location of each brick is not essential to the design. It is a choice for the bricklayer and allows them to use their skills. The same is true in Enterprise Architecture. Give your builders enough information to build your design and also enough freedom to use their skills.

31 Mar 2022 — Does it matter the Cloud is just someone else’s servers? Does it matter your business rents its offices? Does it matter your business leases its vehicles? There is a huge difference. In the case of the offices and vehicles, your business has possession of them. The owner of the building must get a court order before they can lock you out. The owner of the vehicles cannot just turn up and take them away. Your business does not have possession of the Cloud servers. If you rely on the Cloud, are you one poorly-worded marketing campaign away from being put out of business? Make sure your contracts protect you from your Cloud providers.

01 Apr 2022 — Sometimes you have to take a chance. Look at the talents of your stakeholders and try to recognise the combinations that could deliver a serious improvement. Not every investment has to pay off. But if you trust your stakeholders and their talents, maybe you should build a case, explain the risks and let the investors decide.

02 Apr 2022 — “But perhaps to the inexperienced it will seem a marvel that human nature can comprehend such a great number of studies and keep them in the memory. Still, the observation that all studies have a common bond of union and intercourse with one another, will lead to the belief that this can easily be realised. For a broad education forms, as it were, a single body made up of these members. Those, therefore, who from tender years receive instruction in the various forms of learning, recognise the same stamp on all the arts, and an intercourse between all studies, and so they more readily comprehend them all.” — Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture

03 Apr 2022 — Whether you consider it a hierarchy, a composition or levels of abstraction, the idea that almost anything can be broken down into component parts or assembled into something greater is a fundamental concept in architecture. We break the whole down into smaller, more manageable pieces so those who will build it can understand. We describe the whole for those who will operate it. As architects. we must understand both the detail and the big picture.

04 Apr 2022 — Some things you can learn in a day. Others take much longer. Still others are a life-long journey. Architecture is the last. It takes years just to become a beginner.

05 Apr 2022 — When you understand the full spectrum of Enterprise Architecture, you not only gain the ability to architect any part of the business but also gain an understanding of your limitations. You become a generalist. Almost all of the architecture work should be done by the domain architects under your direction. Would you do the work better than them? Maybe. But they have to learn and grow. And you need them to do it if you’re going to learn and grow too.

06 Apr 2022 — Change is when you take something you do and improve on it. Transformation is when you stop doing a thing and do something completely different instead. The classic example is Netflix. The only similarity between before and after transformation is Netflix customers got to watch movies. Literally everything else changed. 

07 Apr 2022 — The map is not the territory. Just because your architectural design has a particular feature does not mean it will be there in the end. As the design is built, your understanding will change. The people involved will change. The world will change. Sometimes your design will have to change too.

08 Apr 2022 — If you want to understand transformation, the classic example is Netflix. It went from buying DVDs from wholesalers and storing them in warehouses to no DVDs or warehouses. It went from being constrained by stock and distribution via the postal service to constrained by its customers’ broadband connection speed. It went from making deals with wholesalers to making deals directly with movie studios.

09 Apr 2022 — “You miss all of the interesting stuff if you use the past to predict the future. It just doesn’t.” — Scott Adams

10 Apr 2022 — If a business is happy to carry out all of its business operations design without an architect, where does it miss out? The answer is in the details. Anyone at the top of the business can make a proclamation to make it so. They might even check that it’s feasible and affordable first. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years. It’s not architecture. Architecture helps at the top but the difference it delivers is connecting the levels below. If you go the old fashioned way, a decision can be passed down through the human hierarchy. Architecture recognises many more hierarchies and passes decisions down all the rest of them too. Unlike the human hierarchy, it can show the effect of a decision from top to bottom in seconds.

11 Apr 2022 — At first there was pencil and paper. Then there was CAD. Now there is architecture information management — entity relationships based on the information held in a database. Each caused a huge leap forward in architecture. With each progression, the architects of the previous generation seem less and less like architects to the users of the latest. This is because the capabilities enhanced by the tools mean an architect using them can do things the previous generation may not even understand and design things which were previously impossible.

12 Apr 2022 — The main value stream for an Enterprise Architect is – Negotiation >> Design >> Communication – which, like every value stream, is oversimplified and usually every part of it is going on at the same time. 

13 Apr 2022 — One of the worst things you will face as an Enterprise Architect is the sheer number of people who think Enterprise Architecture is an IT role. This isn’t helped by the sheer number of people from IT who pretend to be experts in EA only for them to try to shift the definition. EA is the architecture of the enterprise. All of it. It is used to architect the whole operating model not just the IT.

14 Apr 2022 — Whether to maintain your org chart or not in your EA tool is a major question. It adds value to be able to see who does what. It takes more and more effort to maintain it the larger your business. You could just use the job and role titles which stay far more constant. 

15 Apr 2022 — Making your architecture compliant with a law is generally very easy though time-consuming. Most business law is designed to apply to thousands of businesses so is deliberately broad to allow you lots of room for interpretation on how to implement.

16 Apr 2022 — “In reality, the apparent ‘objectivity’ of modern architecture is merely a mysticism in reverse, a congealed sentimentality disguised as objectivity; moreover one has seen often enough just how quickly this attitude is converted, in its protagonists, into the most changeable and arbitrary of subjectivisms.” — Titus Burckhardt

17 Apr 2022 — There are some distinct eras in the history of Enterprise Architecture. The current era started in ~1998. Despite that, an alarming number of people are stuck in a previous era. And it’s an easy thing to do because there are so many who actively promote previous eras of EA. The start of the current era was when EA tools became capable of describing every aspect of an enterprise. They changed our ideas of what is possible. If a good architect is stuck using paper or Visio, would they be a great architect if they were using the proper tools?

18 Apr 2022 — Do qualifications matter? Not really. What matters are your talents, personality and reliability (which you can develop). Qualifications only matter when you apply for a job. Even then, your last role matters more. Make sure your coworkers get to know you. Make sure senior people want to work with you. Ask for their advice on how to do it. Actually listen. Listen hard. Actually want that advice. Then act on their advice.

19 Apr 2022 — If you are a talented architect, the idea of becoming an entrepreneur should always be on your mind. However, remember there are monarchs, advisers and jesters. All of us think we can be monarch but is that our true calling? Are you really the best person to be in charge?

20 Apr 2022 — Is the enterprise an activity system? Yes and no. Technically it’s true but if you think of your enterprise as a system, it leads to a dark place. The horror stories you hear about Amazon warehouses all have a strong whiff of architects who think of their enterprise as a system.

21 Apr 2022 — The current crop of Enterprise Architecture tools lag a long way behind the current building architecture BIM tools. This is no surprise as the market for EA tools is tiny in comparison. However, the fact none of the EA tools seem to take any inspiration from the BIM tools is embarrassing. 

22 Apr 2022 — While it would be lovely to think one day Enterprise Architecture will have its first Frank Lloyd Wright, it will probably never happen. EAs are the designers of factories, factory complexes and distributed manufacturing. We might be the only one who ever recognises the beauty in our architecture. Yet we should still strive for beauty.

23 Apr 2022 — “In a small room one does not say what one would in a large room.” — Louis Khan

24 Apr 2022 — My first brush with a card file database was as a teen in the early 80s. My father had a record collection and put it into a database on an 8bit machine. It seemed like a waste of time to me and he stopped using it less than a year later. Ha! My opinion was validated! What’s the point in a database? A few years later came my first brush with a relational database in my first real job. I dismissed it as useless because of my dumb opinion. Of course, RDMSs are far from useless. They’ve made a huge contribution to where we are as a society. People spend their entire career building and maintaining them. So why did my father’s experiment fail? Hindsight shows it was easier to keep a list on paper because the problem was too small and simple. Jump forward to today and many architects make the same mistake. They look at an EA tool and don’t see any value. It’s almost certainly because the problems they try to imagine are too small and simple.

25 Apr 2022 — The more maintenance something needs, the more likely it is someone will fail to maintain it or make a mistake while doing it.

26 Apr 2022 — The highest levels of your business does not work in the same way as the lowest levels so you cannot use the same patterns. However, the closer you can get to reusing patterns everywhere, the more value you will add for everyone. If you ensure a low-level strategy is developed in mostly the same way as a high-level one, you have also ensured a career path for talented strategists.

27 Apr 2022 — Some buildings last for hundreds of years. Other buildings only last a few decades. There are advantages to things that are built for the ages and they are often the most impressive at first glance. You might feel strong emotions at the idea of even small changes in an old building. Yet each building can be repurposed and used by many different kinds of occupant. You would feel nothing about changing or knocking down a building that was not designed to last. In Enterprise Architecture, it pays to understand the parallels.

28 Apr 2022 — If a Solution Architecture is the description of a how machine in a factory operates and how to operate it, Enterprise Architecture is the description of how the factory operates. Not just the machines in the factory, everything and everyone.

29 Apr 2022 — What is the big picture of the operating model? You could look at it three ways. The operating model is already the big picture. Or the business model is the big picture of the operating model at a single point in time. Or the business model and the strategy combined are the big picture of the operating model. The big picture for all of these is the market.

30 Apr 2022 — “An interesting plainness is the most difficult and precious thing to achieve.” — Mies Van Der Rohe

01 May 2022 — You might be tempted to give more junior architects the boring work you don’t want to do. And that’s certainly one of the benefits of leading a team. However, you’ll grow more as an architect if you regularly give each junior architect some work you would love to do. Especially if you have the time to do it yourself.

02 May 2022 — The lower the amount of maintenance needed for a thing, the longer it will survive in your business. People like reliability. This is a double-edged sword.

03 May 2022 — Mistakes. Everyone makes them. In time, you will make far fewer if you admit them and fix them.

04 May 2022 — Why is the number of Enterprise Architects with Imposter Syndrome so small in comparison with the number who are simply imposters?

05 May 2022 — You can have a guaranteed ROI now or potentially double the ROI in one year for the same money. Which do you choose? Most of the time you should choose the immediate win. A year is a long time and a lot can change. 

06 May 2022 — The other side of making mistakes is allowing your team to make them. Here you have to be a lot more careful. Let them make too many and things will rapidly become amateurish. Use too much discipline to rein them in and you will lose the creativity. Architecture needs both discipline and the freedom to make mistakes. You cannot leave the balance to chance. Thankfully, five minutes of thought should be enough for you to build a plan. Remember to adjust your plan any time there’s a significant change.

07 May 2022 — “Architecture excites our respect to the extent that it surpasses us.” — Alain de Botton

08 May 2022 — If it aint broke, don’t fix it, right? It’s true a lot of the time but it’s also how you get things like Technical Debt. Suppose you have an app which uses SQL Server. A new version of SQL Server gets released. Do you upgrade or not? The answer is, you try to upgrade. If it works, great. Or it might fail but at least you tried. But if you wait, with every new version of SQL Server, an upgrade attempt is more and more likely to fail. Which is one of the ways you get Technical Debt. So which do you go for… if it aint broke, don’t fix it… or a stitch in time saves nine? Because they can’t both be true.

09 May 2022 — If you’re going to use an EA tool, you have to go in with vision. If you start with the detail, you’ll never make it to the big picture. Start at the top of the business and work your way down to the detail. It’s going to take a long time. Probably a year or two. It’s worth it.

10 May 2022 — If a Project Manager is someone who ensures a change is delivered on time, on budget and to specification, an architect is someone who produces those specifications.

11 May 2022 — In architecture, you have to put people first. If you create a new architecture but the roles within it are boring and repetitive, you have failed as an architect. Your aim should always be to create roles that everyone wants to do. The kind of jobs that employees will take a pay-cut to do. That is difficult and rare to achieve but is the mark of a truly successful architect.

12 May 2022 — Why do we break things down into metaclasses? And what is a metaclass anyway? A metaclass is a term specific to metamodels and is another name for an entity type, e.g. process, role, capability, resource, event, etc. A metaclass is not the thing itself, it’s not the symbolic representation of the thing, it’s the category of symbol we can choose from when we model the thing. We use them because, even if something is a poor fit for a particular metaclass, that’s better than no fit. And, once they fit, we can wield the power of the model.

13 May 2022 — If you run a fashion house and set up an online store to sell your clothes, that is not a digital transformation. If you shutter your clothes manufacturing and set up an online store to sell virtual clothes in Fortnite, that is a digital transformation.

14 May 2022 — “We form a mental map and then that shape shapes us” — Lois Farfel Stark

15 May 2022 — At the highest levels, the processes become a blizzard. So we put them in groups. In any one group, you can bet most processes rely on processes from other groups. And we put the groups in groups. And those groups in groups. The further up you go, the less it makes sense to call something a process. Yet we still do. Even though it’s a group, if we treat them the same at the highest levels as we do at the lowest, there is a huge amount of value to be gained.

16 May 2022 — The operating model is often explained as people, process and technology. We put them in that order for a reason.

17 May 2022 — Look at your junior architects and realise, by accident or design, one of them might end up as your boss. So be a good boss to them because they’re learning how to be a boss from you.

18 May 2022 — Enterprise Architecture is a tiny market in comparison with the huge market for IT architecture. That leaves the EA tool makers with a tough choice. Do they try to cater to a tiny market and risk making a loss or a cater to a huge one? At the moment, they try to cater to both and it means many of the supposed EA tools are really just ITA tools. The need for profit has led them there. It means you have to customise the tools if you want to deliver worthwhile value.

19 May 2022 — Beware of highly stratified businesses. Over the years, huge amounts of inefficiencies can build up in a business, e.g. vertical columns of managers who only manage a single worker. When you publish the architecture of the business, it gives these managers nowhere to hide and they won’t take kindly to you proving they’re useless. Make sure you have friends in high places who are briefed on what’s likely to happen.

20 May 2022 — In older businesses, a vast pool of useless middle management can build up. The work shifted away from them over the years or their talents became obsolete or the market changed or maybe it’s just the nature of businesses. Those managers have kids to feed and mortgages to pay so they cling to their job despite the itch in the back of their brain that the job is useless. If you want your EA practice to succeed, find a way to make them useful again. They’ll love you for it. Because nobody wants to be useless. At least, nobody you’d want to keep.

21 May 2022 — “Architecture is the backdrop to our lives” — Matthew Rice

22 May 2022 — You’re a good person. Your intentions are good. So what do you do when you discover you misunderstood something for years and have been feeding people BS about a topic? The answer is you forgive yourself and learn from it. You stop the BS. You try to make things right. You maybe gain a little humility. Instead of confidence in a topic, you work with confidence you will do the right thing as you understand it at the time and in the knowledge you will understand it more over the years.

23 May 2022 — Once the vision has been developed, the next phase in the TOGAF ADM is what it calls Business Architecture. Everyone else calls it Process Architecture but we can leave that for another day. The opening line is, “Develop the Target Business Architecture that describes how the enterprise needs to operate to achieve the business goals”. Note the first word: develop. Not ask for, not analyse, not elicit. If you think you are supposed to just analyse it in order to deliver an IT solution, you’re not an EA. An EA develops the architecture.

24 May 2022 — If an Enterprise Architect develops the architecture, does that mean like a coder develops a program? No. Develop in this sense means to work with the stakeholders to produce the design. Implementation comes later.

25 May 2022 — 90s IT architecture is still the way most businesses work. A bunch of managers and SMEs design a new part of the business. Then they ask senior IT people to help identify what can be automated. Then work with Business Analysts to figure out the requirements for those systems. Then IT architects source or design those systems. To an Enterprise Architect, this way of working seems ridiculously old fashioned.

26 May 2022 — Businesses are talent-driven. It’s why top talent is paid so much.

27 May 2022 — The only hard rule in Enterprise Architecture is all the rules are generalisations.

28 May 2022 — “The most important part of design is finding all the issues to be resolved. The rest are details.” — Soumeet Lanka

29 May 2022 — Explanatory power is one of the most important concepts. The main reason we laud Einstein is because of the explanatory power of E=MC^2. It might eventually turn out to be wrong but it accurately explains more of our observations about the universe than any competing formula so far. Which brings us to architecture. When someone tries to fill your head with an EA hypothesis, check it against the reality of enterprises. It may not explain your enterprise but does the hypothesis explain the observable reality of enterprises?

30 May 2022 — Suppose the exec wants a major change to the business operations. They trust their management team to know their jobs and make good changes to their remit. But how do they stop two different managers from unwittingly duplicating effort? Or from making changes that cause unintended disruption in other parts of the business? Or from adopting two competing industry standards? Enterprise Architecture is the answer to these questions and many more.

31 May 2022 — One of the fastest ways to discover whether a part of the business is worth its budget is to ask a few simple questions: if we spin this off as its own business, will it grow or shrink with us as the only customer? Will it find new customers? If we stop using it, will we notice? Will it survive? Would we get better value from its competitors?

01 Jun 2022 — The reason nobody really uses TOGAF is because it doesn’t really add up. If you don’t understand Enterprise Architecture, you’ll never get it to work. If you do understand Enterprise Architecture, you’ll come up with your own better, simpler framework.

02 Jun 2022 — The main people involved in Enterprise Architecture are a close parallel to the main people in building architecture. The architect architects. The builders build. The project manager manages the build. The customer pays for it and makes all the big decisions.

03 Jun 2022 — If you ask to see the architecture of a building that’s going to be built and a person can only show you a load of text describing it, you’d know that person isn’t an architect. From an architect, you expect to see the plans and some elevations. Maybe a painting or a render. Especially if it’s you paying for the building. It’s the same with Enterprise Architecture.

04 Jun 2022 — “But I don’t understand. Why do you want me to think that this is great architecture? He pointed to the picture of the Parthenon.
That, said the Dean, is the Parthenon.
– So it is.
– I haven’t the time to waste on silly questions.
– All right, then. – Roark got up, he took a long ruler from the desk, he walked to the picture. – Shall I tell you what’s rotten about it?
– It’s the Parthenon! – said the Dean.
– Yes, God damn it, the Parthenon!
The ruler struck the glass over the picture.
– Look,- said Roark. – The famous flutings on the famous columns – what are they there for? To hide the joints in wood – when columns were made of wood, only these aren’t, they’re marble. The triglyphs, what are they? Wood. Wooden beams, the way they had to be laid when people began to build wooden shacks. Your Greeks took marble and they made copies of their wooden structures out of it, because others had done it that way. Then your masters of the Renaissance came along and made copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Now here we are, making copies in steel and concrete of copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Why?” — Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

05 Jun 2022 — There are layers. There is the business itself. And business theory. And the model of the business. Then modelling theory and architecture theory to explain how to turn business theory into changes to the business. But always keep the business in sight. If the theories say one thing and you can see the business working well in defiance of the theories, trust the business. It is real. Maybe the theories are wrong or you just misunderstood them. Trust what you can see because reality beats theory every time.

06 Jun 2022 — The people in the office of the CIO have a hierarchy that reaches the top of the business but that doesn’t say anything about IT architecture in Enterprise Architecture. In EA, IT architecture is at the bottom of the hierarchy and continues downwards. From an EA perspective, IT architecture rapidly gets irrelevant below the UI level. An Enterprise Architect is interested in what the ITA will do for people in the business. How the IT architects want to deliver it is mostly up to them.

07 Jun 2022 — TOGAF and Archimate are not there to describe systems, they are there to describe departments. All of the departments. And all of the structure above. And all the rest of the enterprise. Including all of the systems and all of the things that aren’t systems.

08 Jun 2022 — TOGAF teaches people how to write recipe books but doesn’t teach them how to cook. And most of the people who go on a TOGAF course can barely make toast.

09 Jun 2022 — The core of a business can come from anywhere. From an idea dreamt up by the CEO to a gap in the market to a new industrial process to a small algorithm just doing what everyone else is doing. Anywhere. No matter where the core starts, you need to be able to develop a business around it.

10 Jun 2022 — The route to understanding Enterprise Architecture is through modelling. You learn to model what a person does. Then you learn to model what a team does. Then you learn to model what a department does. Then you learn to model what an enterprise does. All of these models are connected in one huge model that describes the architecture of the enterprise.

11 Jun 2022 — “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” — George Carlin

12 Jun 2022 — If you’re just starting out and want to become an Enterprise Architect you might want to spend plenty of time with Business Analysts and Data Architects. Business Analysts spend a lot of time with business stakeholders and you will too. Learn from their gentle charm. Data Architects understand the business defines the surface level of their architecture but there’s a vast amount underneath the business stakeholders would find baffling. Learn from them how to present just a surface the business will understand.

13 Jun 2022 — Humans. We… well, you know about humans. You might hope your enterprise will make perfect sense once you have a model of the whole thing. In truth, what your model will show is your enterprise is very, very human.

14 Jun 2022 — There are only two mandatory phases in the TOGAF Architecture Development Method: Vision and Business Architecture. Everything else is optional. You have to help the business be clear about its wants and you have to change the routine business operations. 

15 Jun 2022 — If there’s one thing IT people constantly get wrong about TOGAF it’s the entire Business Architecture domain. Far too many think it’s Business Analysis. It’s not. Give the people who wrote TOGAF at least some credit, if it was about Business Analysis, it would be called Business Analysis.

16 Jun 2022 — To give an example of the difference between a Business Analyst and a Business Architect, take a look at the TOGAF 9 model. Focus on the big box called Organisation Unit. To a Business Analyst, it means the name of a team or a department. To a Business Architect, it means the names of all the teams and departments because Organisation Unit is the hierarchical metaclass used to build the Org Chart.

17 Jun 2022 — “Difficult” is another way to say “possible”.

18 Jun 2022 — “We must consider the building not as an object but as a collaborative system tightly linked to its natural environment; an ecological niche.” — Neri Oxman

19 Jun 2022 — One of the nice things about Enterprise Architecture is most of the business knowledge requirements get offloaded to the Enterprise Architect and the Process Architect. That leaves the IT architects dealing with the stuff they love: the IT. It also means the better the IT architect, the more senior they become in their domain. It is the EA and PA who have to become business experts, the ITAs get to be experts in their chosen field.

20 Jun 2022 — Good Enterprise Architecture leaves bad management no place to hide. This means you can expect a lot of opposition. You might be tempted to fight it but you will get a lot further if you find ways to make them do productive management work instead.

21 Jun 2022 — No amount of experience doing detail work can make you understand the big picture. No amount of drawing flowcharts will make you a Process Architect. No amount of designing IT architectures will make you an Enterprise Architect. Flowcharts and IT architectures are detail work. Process Architecture and Enterprise Architecture are about the big picture. 

22 Jun 2022 — EA models are to business change as building architecture drawings are to construction.

23 Jun 2022 — If you want to see the word Capability used correctly, here’s a line from an advert in my feed. “Our solutions for the F-35 deliver a full range of capabilities, from readiness to engagement to returning safely.” The F-35 is a fighter aircraft and those are the capabilities Raytheon chose to focus on. They’re not functions. They’re not apps. They’re not goals. They’re capabilities.

24 Jun 2022 — What is a Capability Map? Take a look at yesterday’s correct use of the term Capability taken from an advert: “Our solutions for the F-35 deliver a full range of capabilities, from readiness to engagement to returning safely.” Now take each of those Capabilities and map them to the aspects of operating an F-35 fighter, e.g. readiness would map to the maintenance and preparation of the aircraft by the ground crew, its maintainability and reliability.

25 Jun 2022 — “Light must always win.” — Maurice Smith

26 Jun 2022 — When you have a model of the whole enterprise, you will discover horrendous inefficiencies. If you come from a software development background like me, this can be difficult to take until you add time as a factor. You have to look at the enterprise like a growing, living thing not like software. Look at how it was 5 years ago, how it is now and predict what it will be like in 5 years. Look at the trajectory of people’s careers, how the processes shift and the arc of technology. Then most of the inefficiencies disappear. You know what to do with the inefficiencies which remain.

27 Jun 2022 — A lot of otherwise very smart people have a lot of very bad ideas. And will try to press them on to you. 

28 Jun 2022 — When you understand Process Architecture (misnamed as Business Architecture in TOGAF) and have seen the complete architecture of an enterprise, nothing is ever the same again.

29 Jun 2022 — Neatness counts but reliability is more important. Every change you make risks breaking something. Never change something just to make it neater. The classic example of this is a decision of new management in IT to “clean up the spaghetti”. If the spaghetti is working, understood and reliable, leave it alone.

30 Jun 2022 — No amount of flowcharts, data flows, database schemas, application architectures, integration, infrastructure or roles add up to Enterprise Architecture. Those are all Level 5 or below. You still need all of them but an Enterprise Architecture has all of the Levels above that too. You need all of the Levels to see the architecture.