Structure, process and purpose
Just a simple idea that came up whilst I was pondering why the mix of EA (enterprise architecture) and BPM (business-process management) worked so well at the combined IRM-EAC / IRM-BPM conference last week.
I’ve long said that enterprise architecture is about structure and purpose, but I realised a few days ago that we can also turn that the other way round, and add another twist to the story.
‘Enterprise’ is about purpose – the Why of the organisation and its work.
‘Architecture’ is about structure – the What of the work.
“Process’ is about action, about execution – the How of the work.
Enterprise architecture is about the relationship between structure and purpose – the What and the Why of the organisation. Yet of necessity it’s also interested in process, the How of the work, how a strategy is brought into real-world execution. So enterprise-architecture needs to know about business-process management.
Business-process management is about the relationship between process and purpose – the How and the Why of the organisation. Yet of necessity it’s also interested in structure, the What of the work, in the ways through which everything holds together into unified whole. So business-process management needs to know about enterprise-architecture – especially the ‘real-EA’ forms that extend far beyond the confines of the IT-centric box.
Strategy – purpose – is the bridge that binds them together. Hence, we might suggest, the relationship between Why, How and What, that would reminds us of Simon Sinek’s exhortation that we should always ‘Start with Why’.
Each discipline needs to know about the other discipline’s space. Each will only work well with an understanding and respect of the role of the other. Two disciplines walking hand-in-hand, we might say, toward the guiding star of purpose.
What. How. Why.
So no wonder, really, that that conference worked so well! 🙂