Enterprise architecture and the 'small countries'

Been thinking for quite a while now that there’s a significant difference in enterprise architecture styles between ‘big countries’ – particularly Britain and the US – and ‘small countries’ (smaller population rather than smaller size) such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and so on. Following this post from John Gøtze – ‘Aligning the Ducks‘ – I’ll have to include Denmark in that list as well.

John’s post is an interview with Gary Doucet, Chief Architect for the Canadian Federal Government. (He was a keynote speaker at an Danish Government architecture conference in Århus in April – hence the Denmark connection.) What’s clear from the interview is that there in Canada the entire architecture process is business-driven – not IT-driven. In fact there were only passing references to IT and CIOs and the rest of the IT-centric stuff: instead, the emphasis was on business-centric themes such as their Business Transformation Enablement Program and Municipal Services Reference Model.

That’s the big difference: the ‘big countries’ EA is still clinging (with increasing desperation?) to the IT-centric view, whereas the ‘small countries’ EAs have long since recognised that it’s a dead-end, and that we must wrest control of EA from IT if we’re going to get anywhere worth while.

Yet another reason why it’s so damn frustrating being here in Britain: it should be a powerhouse in EA, and yet by comparison with Australia it feels like a stagnant backwater. But I’s here for the while, so just have to get on with what I have and where I am, I guess. Hey ho.

But go look at John’s interview with Gary Doucet: a solid sense of realism there, rather than the usual US/GB IT-centric hype. Recommended.

3 Comments on “Enterprise architecture and the 'small countries'

  1. Tom

    Regarding the need to manouevre EA out of IT, CIO.com in the USA have just published my latest quarterly column “Tools for Leading Business Change”, which explores both the opportunity and the challenge.


    Also, my address to this years EA Conference in London was “Breaking EA Out of IT”. Previous ones have been “EA Driving Business Innovation” (which I also delivered in Sydney), and “Measuring the Contribution of EA”.

    I feel it would be good to talk…

    Chris Potts

  2. Hi Tom,

    Snap. http://www.agileea.com/portal/index.php/blog.html It’s something that’s been on my mind since I arrived in the UK ten years ago. I’d been doing EA work at a Water Utility back in South Africa, and joined a Dot.com in London. I thought to myself, what a Wonderful opportunity to start an EA Model of the enterprise from scratch, and build it up as the organisation itself matures. Nobody knew what I was on about and nobody cared of understood what I was trying to tell them.

    To be fair in 1999 the CEO and Chairman did give it two or three hours over two days or so in workshops, but because they could not agree on the definitive Vision and Mission of the company they decided to sweep the whole initiative under the carpet. I think they thought they were wasting time on this Airy-Fairy stuff, and not doing proper work and that was the end of that…

    When I asked people from Rational software in 2000 why their Rose Tool and UML was not being enhanced to define notation types for Principles, Strategy, Vision and other Diagram types I was also met with complete blank stares. To this day that remains the same too…

  3. Know exactly what you mean about those ‘blank stares’. I moved back here from Australia a couple of years ago on the assumption that there would be a more mature market for enterprise-architecture: how wrong I was! The only place I could get an enterprise-architecture gig was back in Sydney – and I got that job *because* I’d started from a non-IT-centric perspective. Here? – nothing. Even now most so-called ‘enterprise architects’ (and, perhaps more to the point, their clients) still don’t even *begin* to get what enterprise-architecture really needs to be about: that ‘enterprise’ *means* ‘whole-of-enterprise’, not just its IT.

    Much the same at the TOGAF conferences. It’s shifted a bit over the past couple of years, from those ‘blank stares’, to a kind of guilty embarrassment – like they’re just about aware of the elephant in the room, but they’re still way too… something… to turn and face it as yet. Dunno why: p’raps because as vendors they need to sell IT-based ‘solutions’, whereas admitting to the elephant means that they know those ‘solutions’ don’t and can’t work?

    Plenty of people here who know about – and are very good at – enterprise-wide IT-architecture; but in most cases it seems barely even the first clue about whole-of-enterprise architecture, about architecture for non-IT-centric enterprises, about process-tracking along the whole value-chain (rather than only the IT-specific bits of the process), and so on, and so on. Frustrating as hell…

    Hey ho. But yeah, time to stand up be counted, I guess: this *must* change, and change Real Soon Now, too…

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