Monday, November 11, 2013

Enterprise Architecture vs. Enterprise Design

We elevate organizational maturity by design thinking; we elevate design by architectural thinking.

Organizations are 'purposeful' systems. This means they have a purpose and work to achieve a goal. Not all systems are purposeful.

 Enterprise Architecture is the glue to connect such purpose (WHY), strategy (WHAT) and execution (HOW). Enterprise Design can elevate business from functioning, firm to delight. But what constitutes the distinction in detail between design and architecture, between enterprise design and enterprise architecture?

Economy and business are complex adaptive systems and thus defy decomposition and causal synthesis. That does not mean that there is no sense in designing architecture. An EA is sensible to define the ontology for creating top-down and bottom-up transparency. It creates understanding and not predictive control. Using the construction metaphor, building's architecture vs. design, the former relates to its alignment with a particular set of characteristics; whereas the design is the composite of drawings and associated specifications. Systems like organizations have defined properties (like products and services) and emergent properties (such as culture, environmental impact, etc). These properties are the way that the system interacts with the environment (which is impacted by or impacts). These properties are created through the interaction of the elements.

All enterprises are designed to varying degrees of detail and with varying degrees of success, but that does not mean that they are architected:
* Architecture exists and is used to assist in better dealing with complexity
* Architecture is about identifying the properties of, and relationships between, the elements of the system of interest
* Architecture seeks to reduce complexity through abstraction and separation of concerns 
*Enterprise architecture seeks to aid the improvement of an organization by assisting in reconciling the varying dimensions which can be changed, the relationships between the various elements, etc. 

Design vs. architecture is rectangles vs. squares: All architecture is design; not all design is architecture. Functions, Processes, Capabilities, and Services (and org. units) are all elements in the Business Architecture that should be cataloged and managed - and exhibited in relation to each other in diagrams when necessary. The goal of Enterprise Architecture should be to ensure they are coherent, mutually supportive (reinforcing) and aligned with what calls the "demands of strategy" - which, in the case of capabilities means answering the question "Do we have now and will we have in the future the capabilities to effectively execute our strategy?" The whole business scenario is more cascading: when management crafts strategy, they need base on business capabilities, the architect & architecture will help them make fair judgment and make effective decisions.

Neither architecture nor design are "events" of creativity - but are in fact creative, thoughtful activities that extend over time: 
) That architecture and design are locked in a reciprocal feedback loop - and therefore co-evolve and therefore that actual designs have a large emergent aspect.
(2) That (tacit and explicit) knowledge and learning from experience are essential aspects, components, parts or facets of the feedback loops (so learning loops within the architecture-design feedback loops).
(3) That these loops, driving the emergence, extend through and beyond any chosen organizational boundary. 

Architecture practice seeks to inform the purposeful, self-interested elements of an enterprise's evolution: Business architecture is about identifying gaps in business capabilities and strategies for strengthening them (including, of course, sourcing them externally). Gives cause to wonder where the right balance is between rigid vs. flexible capabilities. Capabilities appear to be like defined properties or emergent organizational system or sub-systemAny organizations are a combination of people and automated systems, there is quite a contrast in capability - since people can be responsive to both expected and unexpected stimuli and equally can produce both unexpected and expected outputs, whereas automated systems (when working as designed) are entirely predictable. 

Architecture activities are like landscaping: Metaphorically, organizations are like vegetable gardens, where each capability is a different type of vegetable growing in the garden. You can retard some plants and encourage others by selective nurturing - or plant (or sow) completely new vegetables. What you want however is the right mix of productive plants to match your culinary needs. Architecture activities are like landscaping, the goal is to design a scene with fully taking advantage of resources effectively.

The architecture is a way of thinking and embodies the quality of human thought. We can construct without design but we elevate construction by design. In turn, we elevate design through architectural thinking. The careful consideration of requirements in the design along with an overarching vision is what a good architecture represents.


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