The Art of Enterprise Architecture – Section Four – Tactical Dispositions

The good architects of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of failure by knowing them selves, and then waited for the right opportunity to solve a problem. To secure ourselves against failure lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of solving the problem is provided by the problem space itself. Thus the good architect is able to secure himself against failure, but cannot make certain of solving the problem. Hence the saying: One may know how to solve a problem without being able to do it.

Security against failure implies defensive tactics; ability to solve the problem means taking the offensive. Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength. The architect who is skilled in defense works out of governance, not participating in architecting the solutions; he who is skilled in attack engages strong in creating the architecture and defining the solutions. Thus on the one hand we have ability to protect our business; on the other, a way of staying ahead of our competitors.

To see business advantage only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence. Neither is it the acme of excellence if you engage and design and the whole Enterprise says, “Well done!” To optimize a process is no sign of great strength; to see the means and ends is no sign of sharp sight; to hear the noise of change is no sign of a quick ear. What the ancients called a clever architect is one who not only solves the problems, but excels in problem solving with ease. Hence his architectures bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. He creates his architectures by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of the right solutions, for it means solving a problem that is already solved. Hence the skillful architect puts himself into a position which makes failure impossible, and does not miss the moment for solving the problem. Thus it is that in enterprise architecture the successful architect only seeks solutions after the architecture has been designed, whereas he who is destined to failure first designs a solution and afterwards looks for architecture.

The perfect enterprise architect cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.

In respect of enterprise architecture method, we have

1. Measurement of environment which owes its existence to the problem space

2. Estimation of effort to Measurement

3. Calculation of benefit to Estimation of effort

4. Balancing of risk to Calculation

5. Success of business to Balancing of risk .

A successful company opposed to a routed one, is as a pound’s weight placed in the scale against a single grain. The onrush of well architected solutions is a market force like the bursting of a dam into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep.

You can read Section One here: section-one-strategy

You can read Section Two here: section-two-doing-architecture

You can read Section Three here: section-three-planning-the-architecture

The text above is based upon the writings of Sun Tzu in the Art of War. Several translations has been read prior to writing the text above, but the most prominently used translation is the one retrieved from “”. I consider the text above a work in progress…


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