What happens at the other end of enterprise-architecture? What local knowledge is needed to implement the abstractions of an overall architecture ‘blueprint’ in real practice in the real world?
Whilst reviewing research for another book (in another subject area, somewhat removed from business), I re-read some of the material on ‘local distinctiveness’ by the English charity Common Ground. Strikes me that there’s a very powerful metaphor here for enterprise architects: much of our work in designing a change-blueprint is about identifying and promulgating new patterns, but what local knowledge is lost in the process of abstraction into patterns? What happens to that knowledge as new abstract patterns are implemented as ‘specialisations’ at the local level?
Think for a while of the business equivalents of this description of locality by Common Ground’s Sue Clifford:
[It is] the smallest arena in which life is played out. The territory to which you feel loyalty, which has meaning to you, about which you share some knowledge, for which indignance and protectiveness is easily roused, the neighbourhood of which you have the measure, which in some way helps to shape you.
This is the local, the actual place, where the reference is reality, indifference is unusual, detachment is difficult. Here we are somehow entangled, although we may behave thoughtlessly, responsibility tries to surface. It is here that values and facts act upon each other and are passed on by us to create wisdom about nature, about living, dying and remembering. And more prosaically, it is where ‘strategy’ and ‘policy’ are tested to breaking point.
Then take a look at some of these items from the Common Ground website, whilst translating those descriptions from a sociopolitical context into a business one – a whole-of-enterprise context:
- the short essay ‘Places, People and Parish Maps‘ by Sue Clifford (from which that quote above comes)
- a longer piece, ‘Local Distinctiveness – Losing Your Place‘, by Angela King and Sue Clifford, the introductory article to the Common Ground compendium From Place to PLACE: maps and Parish Maps
- their iconic ‘Rules for Local Distinctiveness‘ – to my mind, an essential checklist for architects of any kind, which is also available as a wall-poster – get one for the EA office!
May be something of an eye-opener there for architecture practice…