Monday, October 1, 2012

How Enterprise Architecture is like Yoga

Firstly let me say that I hope people with more knowledge of yoga than me will excuse this analogy.  I am a great fan of yoga, but my knowledge is very limited and my application even more limited.

I see EA as having parallels with Yoga. 

Frameworks - I see some of the frameworks a bit like Yoga sutras of Patanjali.  There are great  principles but knowing exactly how to apply those principles in different circumstances is non-trivial. To answer for example - exactly what I should do etc. this afternoon, tomorrow, next week etc. For the average lazy westerner this just makes it too hard and what they want is someone who can interpret the framework and tell them do this.

I am also told Guru Pattabhi Jois had a saying that yoga "is 99% practice, 1% theory". I also think this is true of many aspects of EA. EA's however like the theory of business more than they like the practice of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

APM - is liposuction enough? How about addressing the cause

I am continually staggered by organizations who are happy to identify the need for reducing the complexity of their portfolios e.g. application, technology, service, information, etc. and happy to commission consultants to come in and help them do this e.g. APM without ever stopping to consider and address the issues that cause the bloat in the first place.

It seems to me it is like a fat person, recognizing they are fat, and seeking Liposuction - to suck out the unwanted fat. Without recognizing what causes the unwanted fat and address that at source (e.g. changing their diet, changing their exercise patterns etc.).

Now if I was a liposuction sales person (or a APM consultancy) then perhaps it doesn't make sense for me to point out the client that the problem could actually be solved at root cause?

If one did want to solve at cause one would want to look at how the initiatives (projects) that create the excess (i.e. duplicates and overlaps of: application function, technology, service, information, etc.) are managed and seek to address those.

Of course this would result in a substantial reduction in consumption of IT technologies and services - so would be opposed by a number of powerful forces i.e. almost the entire vendor community (the fast food franchises); the consultancies (cosmetic surgery and weight loss fraternity); the local IT organization fearing a reduction in their size/spend.

I am also kind of tired of hearing people say the problems can't be solved. To me this is just arrant nonesense.

The solutions lie in:

Understanding some of the systemic problems e.g.

Looking at some solutions:

Having the will to change

Understanding the forces and vested interests that oppose change.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What passes for expert wisdom

I think new book “Wrong” - has lessons we can learn in the arts e.g. strategy and architecture.

Wrong: Why experts keep failing us – and how to know when not to trust them Scientists, finance wizards, doctors, relationship gurus, celebrity CEOs, ... consultants, health officials and more”

"Bad advice thrives in part because the public demands easy fixes that are “resonant, provocative and colorful.” “

I see this everyday in people who just want to believe a new silver bullet will work.

"Most of the expert errors ... are not intentional, but originate in the cognitive biases to which everyone is prone."

“Books written to hammer a single point are vulnerable to overstating their case ...”

Some who has a spent a decade or more focusing on some area (Six Sigma, Information Engineering, Process Modelling, UML etc.) wants to think the answer life in their silo.

"Thomas Kuhn showed some fifty years ago how the practices of scientific communities reinforce and perpetuate prevailing paradigms."

And in technology it is exacerbated by a marketing driven fashion industry - masquerading as an engineering discpline.

We see this in approaches that are not holistic and see the results in some new silver bullet.

“At any given time, a substantial number of our individual and shared beliefs about the causes of those effects are simply wrong....”

“... being right doesn’t matter as much as being accepted.”

This presents a conundrum for those seeking to assist people. Does one advocated accepted wisdom (knowing or sensing it is wrong). Or risk pointing the fallacies in the current think and risk alienating people. I guess it depends on ones views on professionalism i.e. if one professes to tell the truth; or seeks wealth and fame.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Butt covering, incompetence, bribery, face saving - and lack of an "honest broker"

I saw this "Gareth Morgan: Don't let big suppliers drag us down" -

And was pleased that someone with credibility started saying something.

I agree with the analysis - that the cause is: risk aversion (butt-covering), incompetence (or the unwillingness to think), the offering of gratuities (trips, entertainment etc.) and the ability of IT to bury the dead (i.e. anything to avoid losing face).

I would add to that that the "independent" consultants are often not independent i.e. once upon a time consultants advised - and others implemented - this mean the consultants could be regarded as relatively independent. Now some of the consultants advise, often implement and sometimes operate systems - so it is little wonder that solutions that have significant implementation and operational costs are chosen by these "independent" consultants".

For example one leading consultants always seems to pick one brand of ERP system. Then rather than following the advice to adapt the business to reflect the best practice (i.e. minimise changes to the system), they advocate significant changes, which they of course do.

Having done these changes they become just about the only people who understand how the system runs and are locked in.

I have no idea how these people sleep at night - but they do. Presumably on very expensive cushions.

No one in their right mind would select a new fleet of cars - pick Mercs and then decide to change them to better fit the business - lets add a few more doors, move the engine to the back etc. Unless of course the cars were picked by hot rodders wit the assistance of the "independent" mechanic who would end up doing the modifications.

Actually few people would pick a Merc as a fleet car because the marginal utility of having a better car doesn't justify the extra cost (and for few organisations is vehicular transport a business differentiator). The same is true with accounting systems for most organisations.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

EA Emperor's new clothes and scared cows.

This was a presentation to academic community on Enterprise Architecture (EA). Its aim was to stop them being complacement about how they doing EA - and to try and get them focused on looking at needs to be done for them to actually be successful (rather than pretend what they were at present was useful or well regarded).

Essentially it suggests we need to do things differently
- "An inconvenient truth" and "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" - EA doesn't have a good reputation, and isn't doing a good job.
- "Show me the money" and "Give the business what it needs"
- "From cave painter to strategic planner", "Cast out the beam in thine own eye", "A call to arms" - what EA needs to do to be effective.

It outlines why ROI's are intrinsically difficult and made more difficult in IT by some thinbgs - and changes needed to the: people, processes (frameworks), technologies.

The presentation was published here ( - Some of the presentation relies on animation in the slides - if you want the presentation just email me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

CFO and CIO alignment

I think this item insightful -

Alliances between the CFO and CIO will deliver better business performance i.e. aligning the economic and the enterprise architecture of the business.

CIOs have been told for years that they must demonstrate the business value of IT, but the problem is much deeper because of misaligned mindsets between the CIO and CFO.

Most CFOs are focused on business performance and outcome.

Too many CIOs (and most enterprise architects and strategy) are overly focused on being super technologist, mandating standards and designs, and being overly influencing by vendor with large budgets for executive entertainment. This over focus on technology, and too little focus on enterprise (or business).

A proper solution that ensures the key economic parameters are expressed as an intrinsic part of the enterprise architecture are key to this. These cost parameters help lead the technologists towards more of a focus on business issues and provide a neutral point of articulation between the financial and technical domains.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reliving my past

Over 25 years ago I suggested to a range of business users, designers, engineers, surveyors, and planners - that paper based maps, plans and designs or specialised dedicated models suited to a single audience or purpose - were not a good way to bring all the information to together (and allow it to be integrated, maintained, analysed, accessed by a wide range of different parties etc.). In those days I focused on technical computing (mapping, CAD etc.).

In those days I was talking to people who had spent a lifetime learning how to create truely beautiful watercolours that the scrapping little draws that came from that generation of CAD were the way forward.

The challenge was to get different set of people (professions) each of whom sees things from the own perspective yo see the overall picture and what is required to suit the needs to the entire constituency i.e. that if all information was made available using the same framework e.g. co-ordinate system - we could all see what was there, why it was there, what it related to etc. Design work could be migrated to as-built in a fairly painless, predictable and straightforward manner.

Conceptually now - that battle at least is essentially won (though aberrations remain).

Now I am having exactly the same discussion with people seeking to implement complex IT infrastructures (e.g. NSDI) i.e. business users, designers, engineers and planners. In case it is the meta information that is on paper i.e. the maps, plans and designs that sit and describe the: functions, the data, the roles, assets, networks of related elements etc.

Now we have a different set of people each of whom sees things from the own isolated perspective and fail to see the overall picture and what is required to suit the needs to the entire constituency.