The need to architect
In my humble opinion Enterprise Architecture (EA) has been seen in the last decade like the ugly duck of management disciplines. I’m not going into a deep analysis of the reasons, but just no name a few:
- The turf wars between “Business Architecture” and “IT Architecture” and all related EA silo thinking harmed to increase embracement into the discipline;
- Enterprise wide BPM is difficult to achieve, because much more is needed than deploying a hand full of improvement programs. Enterprise wide culture is needed and that is one of the reasons that most of management programs failed. Human nature fights for survival and this means that most of the time people are trying to gain advantage against it peers rather than making the organization moving;
- Until recently, most of process improvement programs were implemented suffering of process silo approach, meaning that they were being run inside a single department, or the scope could take control of all IT, hence it was not necessary to “negotiate” changes that affect other work that uses IT solutions or even the case where the scope of improvement is fragmented, meaning that what happens in the other processes that uses the outcomes of the process being transformed is not our responsibility.
Then as the world progress or the maturity of BPM programs increase, people realize that they cannot make changes in processes the way it used to be, simply because interconnection and dependencies between work, IT, organization, strategy and ultimately the fact that in some industries, consumers took charge of the process and companies cannot control it anymore.
This is the era where “you blink, you lose” (I’m borrowing Novak Djokovic’s latest Graphene tennis racquet slogan).
Rising complexity started to bring awareness in the Enterprise Architecture community, that a different approach was needed to actually being capable of “Architecture” a Business. Still no compelling answers are being provided.
Cybernetic enterprise architecture
This year, it’s possible to start reading about the usage of cybernetics principles when designing EA, because cybernetics since the beginning aimed to deal with variety that’s underneath how complexity occurs.
The problem lies that cybernetics is difficult to understand, because is utterly related with system theory (also referred under engineering principles as control theory). One of the biggest criticisms I find today is that most architect “frame workers” say they incorporated cyber principles, but unfortunately is like a transformation matrix operations in Algebraic Algebra, meaning that it works only like a translation engine between the authors framework (my box corresponds to the Cyber model this way) and the most well know, only and real cybernetic enterprise framework, Stafford Beer’s VSM (below).
Looks ugly doesn’t? And worse than that is difficult to understand and it’s deep roots are coming from system and control theory, because contrary of what you may think the above picture it moves, it responds, it’s not static like all those pretty looking good pictures you are used to look at.
Gordon Pask an intelligent and practical cyber character (very over neglected I say) loved to build machines to test experiments about human learning and adaptation and stated:
“Processes do not have beginning and ends because executing agents were less restricted than machines human beings who compute with complex and variable order principles“
Sounds the principles of today’s working papers about social business and complexity.
What is the challenge?
Last edition of “Ingenium” magazine is fully dedicated to System Engineering and its application on control systems. As Carlos Matias Ramos puts it:
“Systems Engineering, appears in the forties, constituting a field Interdisciplinary Engineering whose main objective to analyze the important components of the organizations, including the resources human, financial, natural, technology and equipment. Focused on decision support, constitutes as a management tool that integrating the issues of order economic and technical, contributes to solving more complex problems, in search of optimizing the operation and management systems, particularly those involving new technologies.“
What is funny about this old principles is why we don’t see it applied on Enterprise Architecture and BPM, when you can see it for example in vehicle suspension adapting to road conditions and driving style. What is the problem? Why people like to draw boxes and arrows that do not tell the story how you should structure your business? What is value of static pictures? Why it seems that Enterprise Architecture is about modelling when it should about designing services, products, value propositions and how your customers gets served, how your processes are engineered and executed? How do you make money?