Why business-model to enterprise-architecture?

Yes, I admit it: I’ve been kinda pouring out the posts lately. Sorry…

But why all this fuss about businessmodels and enterprise-architecture? What’s the point about the bottom-line not being the baseline to work from? If everyone’s selling something to someone, is there really any difference between a for-profit and a non-profit business-model? And who would want to go from Business Model Canvas to Archimate, anyway? Is anyone interested in any of this technical stuff?

I suppose it all comes down to this quote from Chris Potts:

The devil is in the detail, but the angel is in the architecture.

People like building business-models. It’s wonderfully abstract, and it’s fun – like playing with model-trains, where the passengers are only imaginary and the trains really can run on time. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the real world is a bit different from that…

Real-world detail can break the best-looking business-model without even breaking out a sweat. We need to know that detail – or at least have a better sense of that detail – before committing ourselves and others to a lot of hard work and ultimate heartache.

Yet we also need to avoid drowning in the detail – otherwise we’ll never get started. Analysis-paralysis, and all that.

Which is where architecture comes into the picture. Formal discipline, yet without overt formality. Patterns help us break through the problems. We simplify, without being simplistic. And we model to reduce the muddle, to cut through the chaos and complexity of all that devilish detail.

Perhaps even more, it’s about the story: the story of each action, and the story of the enterprise itself. If we get clear on the story, the sensemaking becomes a lot simpler.

As I understand it, architecture comes down to a single idea: everything works better when they work together, in pursuit of purpose, a clear aim in mind. Everything connects with everything else. It’s the detail of how everything connects with everything else, of how we get everything to work with everything else, that I’ve been focussed on here.

A lot of detail, I know: but sometimes that is the nature of the beast. Fact is that architecture isn’t all nice pretty abstracts and nice pretty pictures – sometimes there is a lot of petty picky detail, and sometimes we just gotta face that fact… sorry… 🙁

Hope it’s been useful to someone, anyway?

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3 comments on “Why business-model to enterprise-architecture?
  1. Peter Bakker says:

    Tom,

    My comment at http://weblog.tomgraves.org/index.php/2011/07/26/bmcanvas-to-archimate-short/#comment-59419 would more appropriate under this article 🙂

    I think the ideas & the discussion are very useful/insightful although I don’t agree on all choices (e.g. the choice for ArchiMate as the notation language) you made. But I certainly learn a lot from reading your pieces on this subject and the different comments. It helps me to “sharpen” my own ideas about digital & business architecture 🙂

  2. Nick Malik says:

    Your posts were very insightful. Thank you for sharing them.

  3. Tom G says:

    Peter, Nick – again, many thanks.

    My reason for choosing Archimate is that it’s what I know (sort-of), it’s what other people know (often a lot better than I do), and it’s actively promoted as ‘the notation for enterprise-architecture’. Which means that Archimate is the ‘best’ choice for this type of enquiry, not necessarily because it’s ‘better’ than anything else, but because it’s what people use. (Kind of like Betamax versus VHS, for example.) I just hope it’s useful, is all.

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