Why 'engineering the enterprise' doesn't work

Whilst at the AE-Rio 2011 enterprise-architecture conference, I had the pleasure of sitting through yet another presentation by John Zachman. (He’s the only presenter I know who can get away with reading every word of every slide on a very old-fashioned overhead projector. 🙂 )

Yet much though I like him as a person, and greatly respect what he’s done for the field, I still have to disagree very, very strongly with his metaphor of ‘engineering the enterprise’. This old EDS advert shows part of the reason why:

Yet it’s more than that the enterprise is a dynamic entity, always changing – it’s very rare indeed that we would have the luxury of building it from the ground up, on the ground, nice and safe and supposedly ‘controllable’. Even more, the point is that the enterprise is a human construct – not a machine. And any attempt to treat the enterprise as a machine will guarantee failure.

Hence, in short, the metaphor of ‘engineering the enterprise’ is one that we should never use in enterprise-architecture.

4 Comments on “Why 'engineering the enterprise' doesn't work

  1. Hi Tom,

    ‘Engineering the enterprise’ seems to imply it’s a fixed construct we just need to ‘nail it down’, rather than creating capabilities for flexibly operating in a dynamic environment.


  2. Zachman’s metaphor is rooted in classical Newtonian physics, how about retaining the metaphor and changing the paradigm into Quantum physics. Will it then work.

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