AT#15: How to make decisions in uncertain Times

AT#15: How to make decisions in uncertain Times

To deal with the challenges of the VUCA world, many companies experiment with shifting the idea of agility, as broadly used in software engineering practices in form of e.g. SCRUM to the whole organization. [J. Eckstein: ‘Company-wide Agility’, 2018] gives an overview of more than twenty different approaches for the agile organization. Browsing through these approaches, some of their proponents seem to propose that all decisions should be made decentralized by autonomous teams. Use the knowledge of the many and you will get the right solutions.

But that is far from true.

Grassroots democracy is not a model for companies.  An organization pursues particular business goals dictated by shareholders, the autonomy of the employees is not its primary concern. Which application server software a company chooses to use is not a subject of general elections.

All approaches proposing the agile enterprise do not take one thing into account: architecture. Building solutions in a sound architectural form needs common elements and ‘conceptual integrity’. This means that the concepts and structures of the business (capabilities, value streams, products & services, business objects) and IT (technology components) must play together in a way that maximizes simplicity, consistency, agility and thus business value. Read More

AT#13: Companies are Elephants!

AT#13: Companies are Elephants!

The famous parable of the blind men and an elephant is a story of a group of blind men, who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and conceptualize what the elephant is like by touching it. Each blind man feels a different part of the elephant’s body, but only one part. They then describe the elephant based on their limited experience and their descriptions of the elephant are different from each other. The complete text of the poem is here.

When I read the parable I instantly found it to be very suitable to use it for companies within the digital transformation. Companies are elephants employing blind men like: Read More

AT#11: Build strong connections between Solution- and Enterprise Architecture!

AT#11: Build strong connections between Solution- and Enterprise Architecture!

In most companies I know, enterprise-wide architecture models are designed by a few enterprise architects and are typically not widely accepted by developers. Today, agile solution teams and enterprise architects are separated by huge walls of ignorance and misunderstanding. Enterprise architects (EAs) manage their repository of artifacts and build to-be roadmaps. Solution teams do not care about the work of the EAs and do whatever their product owner wants them to do. Strong links between solution architecture and enterprise architecture seldom exist, which questions the use of the latter at its very core.

What you should do: Read More

AT#9: Three Values that make your Enterprise Architecture Management successful

AT#9: Three Values that make your Enterprise Architecture Management successful

For sure, Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) is still a very immature, weakly defined field. Most of the methods, tools, and frameworks suit the requirements of real-world projects only to a small degree. Most of the elements EAM tries to structure and manage towards a to-be state’ are abstract and hard to grasp. Archimate®, a modeling notation for EAM, for example, defines more than thirty elements, most of them are vague abstractions and far from tangible. In practice, EAM is much more focused on designing application landscapes than providing a holistic view of the enterprise. EAM is still very much about ‘application portfolio management’ that tries to minimize IT costs without alignment to the business capabilities.

But how can this sad situation be changed?

Our suggestion is to apply three values to your EAM practice: Read More

AT#7: Collaborate! Or: beware of Ivory Tower Architects!

AT#7: Collaborate! Or: beware of Ivory Tower Architects!

Enterprise Architecture has a long tradition of mighty architectural gurus drawing fancy diagrams that never reach the reality of solution development.

In his article on the ‘Agile Modeling’ approach, Scott Ambler states:

‘An ivory tower architecture is one that is often developed by an architect or architectural team in relative isolation to the day-to-day development activities of your project team(s).The mighty architectural guru(s) go off and develop one or more models describing the architecture that the minions on your team is to build to for the architect(s) know best. Ivory tower architectures are often beautiful things, usually well-documented with lots of fancy diagrams and wonderful vision statements proclaiming them to be your salvation. Read More

AT#5: Architectural Thinking – the iPhone of Enterprise Architecture Management

AT#5: Architectural Thinking – the iPhone of Enterprise Architecture Management

Typical deliverables and methods of current Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) practices are overwhelmingly complex. EAM tools often include hundreds of out-of-the-box diagrams. The two most common architectural meta-models provided by The Open Group® (ArchiMate®, TOGAF® Content Metamodel) are voluminous and consist of 30+ artifacts and 100+ potential relations between artifacts. Those meta-models are based on sophisticated meta-meta models but have severe issues with clarity. To illustrate this, let’s compare the way an application can be modeled with ArchiMate® with the artifact ‘Application’ of the Architectural Thinking Framework:

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

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

Most IT landscapes of larger companies consist of hundreds of applications that are interconnected via poorly designed interfaces. In most companies, these IT landscapes already have an enormous technical debt (see Bob Martin’s Blog), i.e., an ‘unnecessary complexity’. In my experience, a company typically runs between 80% and 90% more IT applications (and therefore also servers, databases, networks, costs) compared to what would be needed if it had implemented the ideal architecture. A tremendous waste of money and resources, and the reason why IT is perceived as tardy and as a cost factor and not as an enabler.

The following figure shows schematically what typical application landscapes of medium to large companies today look like:

 

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Launch of the Architectural Thinking Framework®

Launch of the Architectural Thinking Framework®

The Architectural Thinking Association® is proud to launch the first draft of the Architectural Thinking Framework® which is a truly open, lightweight architectural framework that is based on the experience of many practitioners.

The Architectural Thinking Framework® has the goal to ensure that all the solutions of a company fit together in order to balance the dimensions (i) customer value, (ii) finance and (iii) sustainability in a way that maximizes the overall value from an enterprise-wide viewpoint in the short and the long term.

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