The art of architecture #5

Number five is about practicing EA and making it a part of your organizations operations as well as part of it’s strategic tool set. Here are the questions I sought to answer: how can we ensure EA’s success in the organization and how can we mine the knowledge and innovative force of the corporate body as well as the corporate tail.

EA as a massively collaborative effort

If we set up a view of EA as a massively collaborative effort, then we have at least three different approaches to choose from. They are the orbital, cantor set and project centric, all of these approaches can of course be combined and intertwined to create something more fitting for your organization. A variant on the above approaches would be to use a Wiki as the repository for knowledge, then anyone in the organization could work on the EA.

The Orbital approach

An image depicting the Orbital approach to EAIf we want teams that move in and work with a core cadre then we can choose the Orbital approach. In this approach we would launch a center of real excellence (CORE) to act as the engine of the effort. In this CORE we would bring diverse teams together to create new knowledge. The members of the CORE rotate out of their regular work and in to the CORE, where they remain for three days up to three weeks. During this period they work on learning about and improving the EA. They form cross organizational teams around topics of knowledge and interest, working on issues such as strategic alignment of IT and innovative use of our capabilities to create new offerings.

Through the steady influx of new participants, this will diffuse our approach to EA throughout the whole organization.

The Cantor Set

An image depicting the Cantor set centric approach to EA

If we have the time and money to educate a large cadre of people then the cantor set is an approach to be used. The principle behind this approach is that we educate at least three people on EA and our strategy. Those three educate the next layer, and they in turn educate the next layer. The original three remain as support for all other in the organization. We can expect the amount of information processed and knowledge of the EA practice to diminish as the Cantor Set becomes more and more like a dust cloud. This is to be expected and it is an effect we want. There is absolutely no need for people at the extremes of the organization to know all about the way we do EA. There is however a need for people to know that we do do EA and what that EA means for them.

The project centric approach

An image depicting the project centric approach to EA

If you don’t have a budget for EA or you have a small budget but you have the buy in from a senior sponsor. Then a project centric approach would be the way to go. In this you start by establishing a baseline architecture. One way of creating a baseline architecture is to take inventory of the running projects, the established policies and architectures. Using this baseline to communicate with and thus educating the projects on the EA, you will receive buy in from many parts of the organization. Continuing to refine the baseline EA through the mining of projects you’ll build up enough traction to show the true value of EA as an instrument for strategy and operations.

Did I get an answer to my questions? Well at least one can see that using any of the three methods suggested we establish a broad sense of EA in the organization and we mine the body as well as the tail. None of the methods are explained in any detail but hopefully it’s enough to get started.

There is obviously other ways of establishing EA within an organization that has not been covered by here. If you know of one I’d be happy to learn about it.


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