LEGO as an enterprise-architecture modelling tool?
One of those happily-bizarre conversations about enterprise-architecture that happens on Twitter from time to time.
It started with a Tweet from Jörgen Dalhberg (@greblhad), to which I duly threw in a lighthearted reply:
- greblhad: If your #entarch can not be illustrated in 3D using LEGO then you have a problem.
- tetradian: RT @greblhad: If your #entarch can not be illustrated in 3D using LEGO then you have a problem <does that include LEGO ‘people-figures’? 🙂
I’d presumed that Jörgen was being reasonably serious about it – as in fact he was, as will become clear later. But I was also fairly serious about it too, because a couple of years back the CTO at one of my clients had done a beautiful physical ‘demonstrator’ for her overall infrastructure/applications-architecture, built as a three-layer wooden jigsaw-puzzle, which she’d presented to the organisation’s executive. By making all the trade-offs and dependencies visible – and literally tangible – in this way, she’d finally given them a means to understand what was going in their systems, and what they needed to do to help her bring it into a more sustainable state.
So I’d seen how such models really do work in practice – and was a lot more inclined to take Jörgen at his word. But for various reasons, others perhaps weren’t, as the following Twitter-conversation shows:
- oscarberg: RT @greblhad: If your #entarch can not be illustrated in 3D using LEGO then you have a problem > Static view only. How show interactions?
- oscarberg: @tetradian @greblhad 3D LEGO is better suited to describe a physical architecture than for #entarch
- richardveryard: @oscarberg @tetradian @greblhad LEGO (even with people figures) shows momentary instantiation of an architecture, wrong level of abstraction
- tetradian: @richardveryard @oscarberg @greblhad yeah, true, but playing with those little LEGO-people is *fun*! 🙂
- oscarberg: @tetradian @richardveryard @greblhad I play a lot with LEGO with my kids, but it doesn’t make it suited for describing #entarch 🙂
- greblhad: @tetradian @richardveryard @oscarberg you should all check out http://www.seriousplay.com/ that’s part of what has inspired me #entarch
- greblhad: @richardveryard @oscarberg @tetradian LEGO … wrong level of abstraction < all illustrations are momentary, still useful though
- oscarberg: @greblhad @richardveryard @tetradian would agree 3D Lego can be used to describe certain aspects of an #entarch, but not complete
- greblhad: @oscarberg @richardveryard @tetradian Oscar what aspects of an #entarch are you referring to as not possible to model with Lego?
- oscarberg: @greblhad @richardveryard @tetradian perhaps “not possible” is not what i mean, but rather “not usable” // a model is a communication tool. We need different ways to communicate different things
- greblhad: I am so sure any #entarch in production today could be expressed perfectly well in a Lego model, I’d probably bet a 100.000 GBP on it.
- jenshoffmann: @oscarberg @tetradian @greblhad we have succesfuly used LEGO #entarch modells in early stages to dev. a shared view of the stakeholders // you wouldn’t document/manage an #entarch with Lego, but as a tool for critical discussions.
- oscarberg: @greblhad @hypergogue original discussion was about describing entire #entarch with Lego. Lego as a comm tool is another question
- greblhad: @oscarberg @hypergogue original discussion was about describing #entarch with Lego. < which is a one way of communicating intention
- oscarberg: @greblhad @hypergogue yes, but using one tool to communicate every aspect of an #entarch is unlikely to be effective
- greblhad: @oscarberg @hypergogue yes, but using one tool to communicate every aspect of an #entarch is unlikely to be effective < I agree
There the conversation seemed to languish for a while, so whilst writing this I tossed in a request for more information:
- tetradian: .@greblhad would love to see some LEGO models of #entarch – even just for communication purposes – a blog-post w photo examples, please? 🙂
What I hadn’t realised, until following up the Serious Play link, is that this really is a serious part of the Lego domain, with serious registered-trademarks and all. Via a network of licensed facilitators they’ve in fact been running Serious Play workshops for the past five years or so – I remember now that I’d once heard of it somewhen, but had long since forgotten about it. But they’ve now (as of June 2010) opened it up as a kind of ‘open source’ toolset: take a look at the LEGO® Serious Play® Open Source page, for a download document describing the principles, and then perhaps take a wander round the website itself. Will admit I’m surprised, and impressed: ‘serious play’ indeed.
No further information as yet from Jörgen or any of the others in that conversation – will post an update here if any comes past. Watch This Space?