AT#42: Enterprise Architects are Dead – Long Live Enterprise Architecture Management!

AT#42: Enterprise Architects are Dead – Long Live Enterprise Architecture Management!

AT#42: Enterprise Architects are Dead – Long Live Enterprise Architecture Management!

Since it’s beginning as a discipline, Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) has been performed by a specific “Enterprise Architect” (EA) role. In practice, this role has been far too often reduced to managing the repository of IT applications and drawing fancy, IT-focused diagrams that never reach the reality of solution development. EAM, even after almost four decades, still seems locked in its ivory IT tower with only limited practical influence on strategic business decisions. How many enterprises have been actually architected by EAs?

But why? How comes that EAM fails to do what it is supposed to – architecting enterprises? My answer:

EAM has never been a discipline done by a role. It is an ongoing task to be performed by many business & IT people collaboratively and in parallel.


Designing Roles

People performing designing roles design the structures of the enterprise (some on strategic- others on detailed solution level). They are usually called “business model designers”, “organization designers”, “process managers”, “product managers”, “service designers” or “software architects”. Even “software developers/solution designers” fall into this category as they implement business structures in the form of software solutions on a micro-level.

Yes! Those people are already working in your organization, but today they are specialists with the narrow focus on their tiny view on the huge enterprise. They are the “six blind men” looking at the elephant (as discussed in a previous ->blog post), usually not well connected, not aware of any “big architectural picture” of the enterprise and not trained to think architecturally.


Deciding Roles

In his fabulous book “recrEAtion“, Chris Potts explains why EAM is a management discipline with the CEO as the Chief Enterprise Architect. And that’s certainly true – decisions made by (senior) executives have the biggest impact on the architecture of an enterprise. Today executives are doing “informal” enterprise architecture without the necessarry clarity of the relations between existing structural elements of the business (like capabilities, information, processes, IT-applications). The vision of the Architectural Thinking Framework is to change that. It enables executives to get able to make informed decisions, based on the clarity of a simple, crystal clear model of the enterprise that has been designed by the designing roles mentioned above collaboratively.


Architecture  Facilitator Role

But if the CEO is Chief EA and many business roles are EAs – what about people formerly known as “Enterprise Architects”? Well, that role needs to shift. EAs must become “Architecture Facilitators”, accountable for drawing the enterprise-wide pictures based on the designs of designer roles, becoming more like skillful “pens” in the hands of designer roles. They mediate between the different designer roles and focus on keeping the big picture of the enterprise architecture consistent.

Like EAs, architecture facilitators need strong analytical architecture modeling skills but must shift their focus from IT to business and from managing the repository of IT-applications to resolving conflicts between the interests of different designer roles. Great architecture facilitators influence how business leaders think and act. They have strong communication and moderation skills and can deal with company politics.

Our previous post “Four Skills for the Successful Enterprise Architect” describes the necessary skills in more detail.


How the roles work together to design the enterprise

The picture below shows how the three categories of roles work together to design the enterprise. The elephant represents a simple model of the enterprise everybody understands and accepts (the current draft of the Architectural Thinking Framework suggests a crystal clear ->capability map for this purpose).

  • Designing roles like Service Designers, Process Managers, Solution Developers etc. work in parallel on parts of the enterprise architecture, connected by an architectural model everybody understands and accepts (represented by the elephant).
  • Architecture facilitators support the collaborative design by mediating between designing roles and by drawing the consistent architectural model of the company. They prepare strategic architectural decisions for executives
  • Deciding roles make decisions no longer based on incomplete, intransparent and contradictory information but based on the holistic transparency of the architectural model.


What you should consider:

  • Enterprise Architecture Management is founded on collaboration and influence. [“recrEAtion”]
  • Good design in the highly complex environment of an enterprise and it’s surrounding ecosystem can be mastered collaboratively and in awareness of the relations of structural elements only.
  • Designers and deciders must learn an “Architectural Thinking “mindset and understand that they design a small part of the huge enterprise only and that they are connected to many other designing roles.
  • The “end game” of Enterprise Architecture Management is to become integral to business management (Agile or not) [“recrEAtion”]

Previous Posts:

AT#13 Companies are Elephants!

AT#2: Demystifying Enterprise Architecture


AT#1: Regain Control – make Business People accountable for Architecture


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