I just recently had a conversation with a talented enterprise architect who had brought together the EA framework elements from numerous different sources in order to address the needs of his business. Included in that list was the Enterprise Business Motivation Model which I developed and which I continue to maintain.
He reminded me of one of the bits of feedback that I’ve been given over the years, and that is “integrate the EBMM with other frameworks.”
The challenge I have with that is that many other frameworks don’t have a metamodel. The EBMM is a business architecture metamodel. Of course, that is a quickly vanishing excuse. The open group is largely using Archimate for their metamodel these days, and other frameworks have had metamodels from the start. So it is time to get off my back and start taking a look at how the EBMM relates with, or differs from, standard metamodels.
I’m starting with Archimate? Why? Because it is at the right level of abstraction, fits well with the gaps in the EBMM (in the IT space, where Archimate excels, there is nothing in the EBMM), and allows a good relationship with tools implementation.
So over the course of the next few months, in my copious spare time, I’ll be diving in on Archimate and trying to improve my skills there, and find the ways to connect it to the EBMM. If you have insight that you can share, please let me know.
Haven’t been to New Zealand yet, but I will be there soon… From September 4 through 7 in Auckland, for TechEd New Zealand. I will be presenting two topics (Business architecture for non architects, and Aligning IT with capabilities).
Now, normally you wouldn’t see Enterprise Architecture topics on a TechEd calendar. However, in the NZ market, there just isn’t the demand for multiple Microsoft conferences every year. As a result, all the conference demand is bundled up into TechEd. Due to the efforts of Terry Chapman and the hard working architects in Microsoft New Zealand, the TechEd conference there has developed quite a reputation for hosting an advanced architecture track.
I’m fortunate to be attending and presenting. If you live or work in the region, I’d love to see you at TechEd New Zealand. If you would like to see more information about the sessions at TechEd NZ, click here.
The profession of Enterprise Architecture is beginning to emerge from its early stages of development. The number of people professing the title of Enterprise Architect has grown from a relative few in the 1990s to thousands today. On LinkedIn, a popular social networking site for professionals, the “Enterprise Architecture Network” discussion group boasts over 79,000 members.
There is a great deal of demand for Enterprise Architecture services. Large consulting firms like Accenture, Deloitte, PWC, and Wipro, large software vendors like Microsoft and IBM, large hardware vendors like Fujitsu and Hewlett Packard, and outsourcing firms like Computer Sciences Corporation, have all developed service offerings that revolve around providing Enterprise Architecture as a service to their clients.
While the field has grown, the proliferation of voices, methods, frameworks, and generally inconsistent advice in the field of EA has also grown. The number of “EA Frameworks” has grown to include a wide array of overlapping bodies of work. Included in this list are GERAM, TOGAF, FEAF, MODAF, DODAF, PEAF, E2AF, Zachman, and many others. Jaap Schekkerman has released three editions of his 250+ page book “How to Survive in the Jungle of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks” which attempts to compare only 15 of them!
Unfortunately this proliferation has created a problem that is common among emerging professions: a lack of maturity. As Geoffrey A. Moore pointed out in his landmark book, “Crossing the Chasm,” the market for a high-tech product will self-segment into Early Adopters (accounting for less than 20% of the market) and the more pragmatic customers in the Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards categories. Viewing Enterprise Architecture as a new high-tech product provides useful insight into why EA has failed to “cross the chasm” from early adoption to the pragmatic majority.
In order for Enterprise Architecture to cross the chasm, there has to be an intentional strategy to gain a foothold in one target market that is part of the Early Majority, and then to use the success of Enterprise Architecture in that space to build the credibility needed for other segments to adopt.
Unfortunately, while EA has been successful in some target markets in the Early Majority (like Telecom and Federal), the lack of consistency in the approach, terminology, and even value proposition of EA across industries poses an obstacle for increasing EA adoption. In other words, the success of EA in one or two areas is failing to help EA gain a foothold among other industries. Could it be because they don’t use the same words to describe success?
Unable to depend on a broader “EA movement,” each EA team is waging a lonely struggle for relevance and ongoing support within their own enterprise. To remain relevant, EA teams have often focused on “low hanging fruit,” immediately valuable initiatives that generate results quickly but often fail to address long-standing challenges. The mantra of modern Enterprise Architecture has become “provide immediate value immediately,” a position that relegates long-term thinking and investment to another day. Ironically, it is this long-term thinking and investment that EA is supposed to provide.
It should come as no surprise that a profession that is designed to provide value in the long term is struggling with demonstrating short-term results. Many EA programs fail as a result of this struggle. In a widely publicized study commissioned by EA tools vendor IDS Sheer, Jonathan Broer, then an undergraduate researcher from Rotterdam University, conducted a study of 191 organizations. The startling results of his survey suggest that up to 66% of all EA-sponsored efforts have failed to produce the expected results. Of the root causes cited: the lack of business awareness of Enterprise Architecture, lack of executive and stakeholder support, and the inability to provide a rapid return on investment.
There have been a few studies designed to examine the reason for the lack of EA to deliver rapid value. There have been no studies developed to examine the reason that EA success in some sectors have failed to translate to others.
In summary, EA stands at a crossroads. The profession of Enterprise Architecture is plagued by multiple problems.
As I found in our Enterprise Architecture team in Microsoft, each time an Enterprise Architect is assigned to a specific area of the business, each one has a unique “engagement” with their stakeholders. In very large organizations (like mine), there may be many different IT units as well as many different business units, all involved in a particular strategy. Each situation is different. This leads to a common problem that can framed with two questions:
We developed a simple grid that helps to position the EA with respect to a specific area of the business. The two axes of the grid are: Architectural Maturity of the “segment” and Maturity of the Architectural Engagement itself. Within each cell, we put a description of “what we want the EA to do” if they find themselves in that position.
Note that maturity of the engagement is a measurement of a relationship: specifically the relationship between the “business customer” and the Enterprise Architect. Architectural maturity of the segment is measured against both the business area and the IT groups that they use (see below). You need to measure the maturity of BOTH variables in order to understand what an Enterprise Architect will need to do to be effective.
Note that the Architectural Maturity axis has four levels, cryptically described as “Level I” through “Level IV”. This is a reference to our internal maturity model, which I’m not at liberty to share in detail.
The broad strokes are:
I’ll provide two scenarios to illustrate how this simple grid is used.
In Fabrikam, we are Enterprise Architects. Fabrikam manufactures and distributes consumer electronics. There are six divisions that manufacture different kinds of products (kitchen appliances, television and radio, automotive, etc). Let’s say that we have 18 Enterprise Architects in our EA team. Fabrikam’s EA has divided into three working groups, each with six architects. Maria manages one of these teams, and has six enterprise architects working for her. Her team focuses on addressing business issues related to supply chain management.
Maria is performing an annual review for two of her architects. They are Tomas and Jai.
Tomas is working with the kitchen appliance team. This is the oldest division in Fabrikam, and they have their own IT group that has been stable for many years. That team has established processes for IT architecture but no business architecture. Their architectural maturity is Level III. Tomas just moved over to the kitchen appliance division from the television and radio division. He is a well established architect with years of experience, but the kitchen appliance team is just beginning to get to know him. As a result, the maturity of the engagement is “Useful.”
The intersection of these axes has the following text:
Maria can set expectations with Tomas and with the Kitchen Appliance division. Tomas will be expected to engage in existing governance and review processes. He will be expected to work with business stakeholders in the kitchen appliance team as well as other divisions to address shared opportunities, capability overlaps, and strategic prioritization. He will be expected to collect current state information models, system models, technology models, and business strategies for the EA repository. He will be measured on his ability to deliver on these expectations.
Jai is working with the automotive division. This is the newest division in Fabrikam, and they are just beginning to roll out their first set of after-market automotive radios and CD players in the North American market. Their IT division is small and rather chaotic. Their architectural maturity is Level I. Jai has been working with the automotive division for about two years, and has repeatedly earned recognition from their business leaders for his skill and depth of knowledge. The maturity of the engagement is “Influential".
Maria can set expectations with Jai and with the automotive division. Jai is expected to demonstrate EA specific methods and deliverables. The teams know him and trust him. He can demonstrate how EA can be valuable by simply doing the work and showing how valuable the results are. Due to his level of influence, he can work with the business to invest in an area of improvement that will benefit the entire enterprise (for example, a project to improve the distribution of finished goods to retailers), and then work with the IT teams and business stakeholders involved to get the project launched and oversee its development. Jai can be measured on his ability to deliver on these expectations.
In small organizations, Enterprise Architects can be “heros” and just “do what works,” but if you are trying to develop a mature EA program, each architect needs to have specific goals and specific deliverables that they will be expected to deliver. This kind of model, we found, is useful for helping each architect to position themselves and their role in the organization.
Architects argue. I have, over the past year, spent a good bit of time on LinkedIn Message boards. I’ve watched a lot of people argue. I’ve learned a great deal about Enterprise Architecture, and a few things about myself, as I’ve compared notes with individuals who have different perspectives and motivations.
That said, some patterns have emerged, good and bad, for conversing with other architects on these message boards. In the spirit of the GOF Design Patterns, and the subsequent work on Antipatterns, I’d like to point out some of the antipatterns I’ve noticed repeatedly on the boards, and in each case, these antipatterns cause some level of anxiety. This is borne out by observing the responses, where frustration is often explicit.
There are nearly always two roles in this kind of argument. The provocateur ( a person who makes a statement that is challenging or innovative ) and the responder ( a person who responds in a way that triggers the antipattern behavior ).
In this antipattern, the provocateur will make a statement that appears to conflict with something that they said previously or said in another discussion. If the responder points out the conflict, especially if done with a direct quote, the provocateur get’s offended and becomes defensive. Conversation ends.
How to avoid: People are inconsistent but believe that they are quite consistent. If a provocateur appears to be inconsistent, the responder should simply ask for follow up details. Don’t pounce in public. Find out what their real underlying thinking is, rather than picking at words. If they remain inconsistent, the responder should reach out in private. In the private message, the responder should point out the text from the other thread and ASK them to explain how these two positions work together.
How to address: The forum moderator should look at the value of the conversation. Has the provocateur added useful thinking? Has the responder? Normally, the answer to both questions is “yes.” If so, send a warning message to both asking them to assume positive intent and consider the emotional context of the other.
In this antipattern, the provocateur will make a general statement designed to express a “grand idea.” The responder will either agree or disagree (usually the latter) but then point out that a particular word, in the response, was used incorrectly. Perhaps they said “process” when they should have said “capability.” Perhaps they said “activity” when they should have said “process, activity, and practice.” Perhaps they said “business” when they should have said “enterprise.”
How to avoid: The responder should start by stating whether they agree with the main idea, or not. If they disagree with the main idea, offer a reason “why” that has NOTHING to do with the detailed wording. Take the time to think about what the big idea is, and follow up to understand it, before focusing on a word. Disregarding a “big idea” because you disagree with a minor distinction in the wording is frustrating to everyone on the community, and stifles the sharing of ideas.
When you get to the point where you understand the big idea, the responder can offer a suggestion to improve the understanding the idea. For example, “I agree with your core concept. It appears that we have similar experiences and I find your description innovative. It may help, as you go forward to share this idea, if you are careful about the use of the word “zyzzix” because I understand that word to be a synonym of “fryzzam.” I understand that you make a distinction between these terms, but not all of your audience may agree that these two terms are distinct. You may find it easier to reach people like me if you use the term “golozarat” instead to refer to this muddy concept.”
How to address: Either of the participants can pull back and “get to the point” by reframing the “grand idea” and ask if the other person agrees with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. If no answer is forthcoming, no learning is happening. If you are asked to consider a new big idea, take some time before you respond to think about that idea. Be willing to learn and grow, not just pontificate. My father used to say, “sometimes, the best way to open your mind is to close your mouth.” It’s good advice.
In this antipattern, the provocateur will make a specific statement that appears well thought out, but may be innovative or controversial. When the responder asks questions for follow-up, the provocateur replies “I explained this in rich detail in my book” or “please read my paper in the Journal of EA Innovation, September 2005, page 14.” This generates frustration on the part of the readers who cannot hear the full discussion because some of it exists in a book or article that they may not have access to.
How to avoid: First off, if you are an author, you must realize that publishing a paper or book does not give you the right to force others to read it before speaking with you. You will never be out of the “business” of educating others in your ideas. Get used to it. Getting defensive is counterproductive.
To avoid creating frustration, it is OK to point others to your work, but then ALSO offer a summary of what you said in that work and be willing to continue to discuss the problem in the forum.
How to address: When this happens to you, it is probably safe to assume that the author you are speaking with is looking for some validation. Compliment him or her, and ask them to provide a summary of their thoughts from the book or article so that progress can continue. If you are a moderator, and one provocateur does this a lot, or gets defensive when others DON’T read their articles, remind them privately of this antipattern. If they persist, suspend them from the board for 30 days.
In this antipattern, the provocateur will make a statement that appears to be too directive or too specific for others to understand or agree with. If the responder challenges the position, the provocateur claims that their “years of experience” have found their position to be true. The provocateur remains unbending, and repeatedly argues against any alternatives.
How to avoid: This is tough to avoid. People form their own mental models of reality and when challenged, they can listen to alternatives, or defend their model. The problem with listening to alternatives is that it is risky. They may discover that a past “success” was not as successful as it may have been. In the words of my friend Jack, “their ears are filled with their ego.”
Often the best way to avoid the problem is to model good behavior in your own contributions. When posting an opinion, lead with “in my opinion” or “in my experience.” Use phrases like “I’ve found this to be true in my situation,” and then ask others to share “their situation.” That way, when someone does respond with a statement like “you are wrong,” you can follow up with a moderation message, like “I believe that our experiences may be different in this respect. I’m glad that you shared your experience. Can you tell me how we should reconcile our two different sets of experiences to come to a mutual understanding?”
How to address: Usually the best way around this is to respond as above, asking for a common understanding. However, if that doesn’t work (and it often will fail), then you have no leverage to “require” someone to change their opinion. Ask if it is OK for the two of you to “agree to disagree” and move on. There is no point in discussing the same issue over and over.
In this antipattern, the provocateur will state that a concept that he or she is fond of, applies to the discussion at hand. When the responder questions the concept, the provocateur responds that they are “certified” or otherwise demonstrably educated, and their certification tells them to use that concept. Upon inspection, it is clear to all that the certification in question does not cover the same scope as the provocateur claims it does. An example would be an IT person, certified in the development of software interfaces called “SOA Services,” claiming an understanding of business services or customer services. Another example would be a person with substantial training in financial risk management claiming that all business decisions in the enterprise begin, and end, from a risk management viewpoint.
How to avoid: As with most of these antipatterns, we have a situation where the ego of one or more of the people may be getting in the way of open communication. The “certified” individual may, in fact, have broader experience than their certification prepares them for. However, there is often a predisposition, among those that have been formally trained in a field, to believe that the training describes the world “as it is” rather than the world “as it should be.” More often than not, the training is simply out of sync with the reality on the ground.
As a result, of the “ego factor,” this antipattern is somewhat inevitable. It will occur more in some areas than in others. Unfortunately, in the EA field, it occurs often because of the explosion of certifications and the lack of consistency among the field participants.
How to address: One good way that I’ve found to address this problem is to point out your own experiences, using words that reflect that you are not dictating some universal truth but rather the experiences you’ve actually had. Use first names of people (replace the actual first names, to protect your friends), and explain how they used the terms and concepts of the space. Then describe how you worked in that situation. Try to use successful scenarios to lend credibility to your position. You want to help them to see that their position may not be universally true. You don’t want to prove them to be wrong, because that would simply be your ego trying to stomp on theirs. There are names for this kind of ego-vs-ego behavior. Avoid it. It hurts your credibility to engage in it.
In this antipattern, the provocateur will state that a concept has one, and only one, meaning. The responder suggests an alternate meaning, and the provocateur responds defensively, citing sources for their definition of the term. This is where you see a “dictionary grudge match” where someone cites a definition from an authoritative source, and another person responds with either ridicule of the source or, even better, another authoritative source with a conflicting definition.
How to avoid: Firstly, if someone questions your use of a word, don’t immediately go hunting for a reference definition. In other words, model good behavior. Admit that your definition, regardless of how well sourced it is, was created by other (fallible) people with a particular context in mind. It is entirely possible that the provocateur also has a different context than you, and that the author of the definition that you are painstakingly citing would have created a different definition if he or she had the same context as the provocateur.
Of course, if someone asks you for a reference, it is perfectly appropriate to give one on a message board. In writing a research paper, you would assume that the reader wants to know your sources, and you would always provide them, but for conversation on a message board, you should wait to be asked.
Secondly, don’t be “possessive” about the terms that you use. Your openness will reduce the likelihood that others will be possessive about the terms that they use. If someone wants to use a synonym, agree.
How to address: One good way that I’ve found to address this problem is to ask the provocateur for their help in explaining their terminology to you. Most people will be flattered by the request, and will go out of their way to describe what their use of a term means. If you respond by “reframing” their statement, using a smattering of your own terminology, then you will quickly discover whether that person is interested in conversing with a shared set of terms, or if the conversation can only proceed by acquiescing to their use of language. If the latter, it becomes a judgment call, on your part, about whether you should continue to interact at all. It is better to end a discussion on a good note than to fight on forever over the meanings of words.
That’s my list. I’m sure that there may be more, but these are the ones that crop up often enough for me to want to write about them. I hope this is helpful for folks who want to discuss things on message boards, like LinkedIn, without becoming entwined in endless arguments.
This is the official announcement. After seven years of providing Enterprise Architecture services to my own company, Microsoft, I’ve decided to move into the Microsoft Consulting Services division and offer my Enterprise Architecture skills and experiences to other companies through Microsoft’s acclaimed world-wide consulting services division.
Nick Malik… Enterprise Architect for Hire.
I’ve been a consultant before. In fact, in the 26 years since I graduated from college, I’ve spent more time in consulting than as an employee. In some ways, I’m coming home. However, I’ve not consulted through Microsoft’s consulting division before. I expect that customers of Microsoft expect different things of their Microsoft consultants than they do from their management consultants or software development consultants (the roles I’ve played before). I have a transition to make, and in all honesty, I’m both excited and nervous about the change. After all, I’ve been working in one environment (Microsoft IT) for the past eight years. I expect that moving “outside the bubble” will be a move back into the real world… a world that has changed dramatically since I was last there.
Microsoft’s internal culture is all-encompassing. First off, not many people have the opportunity to work for such a large IT division. Microsoft IT has 4,000 full time employees and thousands more consultants and contractors. There are offices in 100 countries, six large scale redundant data centers, and massive deployments of bleeding edge technology. Microsoft IT is Microsoft “First and Best Customer,” which means that we get the first crack at new technology, whether it’s ready or not. For example: Thousands of Microsoft employees are using Windows 8 for their normal working environment, and yes, our helpdesk supports Windows 8. We have large teams, and many roles, and an IT budget in excess of $1B. No, Microsoft IT is not a typical IT shop.
For all the excitement of working inside the cauldron of Microsoft, the noise inside the bubble drowns out the sounds of reality from outside the bubble. To counteract this, I have always made an effort to reach out and speak directly to customers of Microsoft software and exchange practices. I am a member of a small minority of IT architects who are engaged in that way. Most of IT is focused on serving the large and needy community of companies known as Microsoft.
That doesn’t mean that Microsoft IT is sheltered. Far from it. We have strong relationships with key partners and each of the large OEMs. We work closely with some large customers as well. Microsoft IT folks are part of those partnerships and there is continuous contact. That said, the majority of contact between MSIT and the “outside” world is in direct support of our partners. Let’s not forget that it is also valuable to speak with people who are NOT involved in making Microsoft successful. To that end, I’ve been engaged to speak to folks from financial services, oil and gas, retail, government, and many more sectors. Each wanted to know about some aspect of Microsoft’s internal architectural activities. Each was willing to share with me their experiences, and their techniques, for developing Enterprise Architecture.
I always got a great deal of energy from these contacts. In some sense, they were the highlights of any week where I got a chance to present to, and listen to, and learn from, our myriad customers from all over the world. And that is why I’m making this move. I’m going after the thing that I enjoy doing the most: providing value directly to companies and organizations around the world.
What does that mean for me? It means that I will spend a good bit more time in airplanes and hotels. It also means that I will be working continuously in new situations, trying to add value as an EA in different companies, in different ways. It also means that I may get something started and not be around to see it come to full fruit. I’ll miss that part.
What does that mean for you? If you are a company or agency that needs an Enterprise Architect, and you’d like to have me visit and spend some time with you, please drop me a line through this website and I’ll see what I can do to arrange things.
I’m hanging out my shingle. Open for business.