Thank you Jeanne Ross

Hooray hooray hooray! – the message is finally getting through!

This from an interview with MIT-CISR‘s Jeanne Ross in the current (29 April 2012) online edition of

Myth: CIOs should own enterprise architecture. Not so fast. CIOs often wind up accountable for the entire enterprise architecture, despite not typically having the authority or vantage point needed to create one that provides what the organization needs. This leads to a disconnect. “When the CIO owns enterprise architecture, it’s a bad fit,” says Ross. “IT is being asked to do something the organization isn’t committed to.”

In reality, companies need to acknowledge that “architecture says everything about how the company is going to function, operate, and grow; the only person who can own that is the CEO,” says Ross. “If the CEO doesn’t accept that role, there really can be no architecture.”

Yep, that’s exactly what we’ve been saying for, oh, well over half a decade now – with the full explanation of why we’ve been saying it, too. But now that the same is being said by such an EA-luminary as Jeanne Ross, perhaps there’s some chance that it might actually be heard at last?

Here’s hoping, anyway…

7 Comments on “Thank you Jeanne Ross

    • Thanks, Pat! (Apologies I’ve been a bit tardy of late on replies – kinda running on overload, trying to juggle 16 concurrent projects and counting… 😐 🙂 )

  1. Tom,

    Thanks for sharing this. Jeanne is only echoing the “six reasons…..” discussion. I wonder what took MIT CISR so long to realize this.


    • “Well, yes, exactly…”, is about the only reply I can give to that! 🙂

      (By the way, thanks again for setting up and curating the ‘six reasons’ conversation – it’s been a very valuable piece of work. Just wish more people got the point, but hey, we’s gotta keep trying, yes? :sigh: )

      (Also by-the-way, are you still working in Singapore government? At the Integrated EA conference back in March(?) I had a good discussion with some of the folks doing EA in Singapore Defence Force – I suggested that they should get in contact with you as soon as possible, to line up what they’re doing with other aspects of Singapore EA. Would be good to know if you met up with them. 🙂 )

  2. Yes Tom, I continue to advise agencies in the Singapore Government, and also involved with the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).

  3. Party!! Festa!!


    I like the myth on EA but I actually like the myth “You should strive to report to the CEO” more (Getting the IT shop in order first before playing at a strategic level). In the last ten years it has never ceased to amaze me how IT functions with a VERY low CMM scores ~1 can have the audacity to say to a mature business, “Hey, we have figured this all out and we are gong to improve your business, trust us”.

    • Hi Graham

      I suspect one of the classic causes of the “We’re IT, we know how to run your business” is that IT-developers in particular almost only deal with a ‘complicated’ world, in which there is a finite set of ‘solutions’ to any given problem – hence, for example, Roger Sessions’ use of ‘complex’ to mean ‘very-complicated that can and should be expunged from the system’. From that perspective, business is just another technical problem to be solved. From the other side of the fence, most business-folk (and others even in IT, such as in IT service-management) deal with a real-world that is a great deal messier than the nice neat over-abstract view that is so typical of that kind of ‘we are IT, trust us’ mentality.

      To use Cynthia Kurtz’s terms, IT lives in a world of ‘order’, whereas everyone else in the business lives in a world of ‘unorder’. To me the key distinction is what I call the Inverse Einstein Test. There’s an anecdote in which Einstein says that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting to get different results”, which in principle should be true in an ‘order’ world, where doing the same thing does (or, in principle, should) always give the same results. But in an ‘unorder world’, the real insanity is doing the same thing and expecting the same results: we typically either get different results each time we do the same thing, or need to do different things in order to get the same result. Knowing which side of the order/unorder boundary we’re on at each moment is the tricky part of managing anything… 🙂 But many IT-folks don’t even seem to know that that boundary even exists – hence the, uh, unhelpful ‘help’ that they tend to offer… :wry-grin:

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