The bucket-list – changing direction

I’ve given up on enterprise-architecture.


Several reasons, really.

The main one is that, even now, enterprise-architecture still isn’t enterprise architecture – and there are still massive vested-interests against its ever being so. Its literal meaning should be ‘the architecture of the enterprise‘; but Open Group et al. have ‘won’, in that the term is now used almost exclusively to mean ‘the architecture of a small subset of IT, in relation to some specific aspects of business’. Which means that the only term that accurately describes what people like me actually do is not available – it’s been hijacked to mean a tiny, tiny subset of the actual scope that’s required for any real-world architecture-of-the-enterprise. And it seems there’s nothing we can do to correct that scope-error – no matter how ludicrous it actually is. After a full decade of futile effort, I’ve given up trying to change it, or to get people to understand why it’s so important that it should change. Oh well.

The other key concern is that, courtesy of that term-hijack, it’s all but impossible for people to understand what it is that I actually do: they expect me to be interested only in IT, whereas in my work the IT, whilst relevant, is only one small subset of the scope that needs to be addressed. The result, amongst other things, is that I’ve struggled, day by day, for a full decade now, to keep going on all of this work on almost zero income. Yet there are now quite a lot of people, scattered across the entire globe, who’ve been using my work for the IT aspects of EA, and who’ve been making serious money from doing so – yet little to none of that ever comes back to me, to keep me going on the next stage of the work. And yeah, that fact does gall…

So yeah, time for me to change direction.




All of that stuff.

You’ll see more of this over the next few weeks, but a quick overview is as follows:

I’ll no longer call myself an ‘enterprise-architect’, because that just confuses people who think it’s only about IT. Instead, I’d describe myself as a change-architect (thank you Oliver Baier!) or, to be more specific, a maker of tools for change.

Tools such as Five Element, for example:


Or Enterprise Canvas:

As per the bucket-list, all of those tools will still work in enterprise-architecture (of whatever flavour). But they’ll also work for, and be useful at, a much, much broader scope – in effect, they’ll work with any type of change, at any scope and scale. Which, yes, is a much larger market than ‘enterprise’-architecture. (I hope so, anyway…)

For now, I’ll aim to avoid adding any more tools to that list – it’s more than large enough already. Instead, the focus will be on showing how to use those tools in real-world contexts, for real-world questions. (For one new example, see the slidedeck for my ICS/IASA-Ireland workshop, a step-by-step process on ‘Tracking value in the enterprise‘.)

I’ll also continue on my existing path, keeping the focus on finding the right questions, rather than ‘the right answers’. The reason for this is that (as per another recent slidedeck) questions tend to stay the same, whereas ‘the right answer’ to each of those questions will tend to change over time and with each context.

To be honest, over time, I do want to move away from enterprise-architecture completely. My heart just isn’t in it any more, and there are other things that I want and need to do with what still remains of my life. But I will keep my promises here; one way or another, you will get these tools in more usable form than they are at present.

Watch This Space, perhaps?

10 Comments on “The bucket-list – changing direction

    • Tom – The fix is not to suggest that Enterprise Architecture needs to change but rather a practice of Business Architecture is necessary. Which is where we are heading. The challenge is that most EA practitioners land in various camps on the application of EA. In truth the current practice of EA can cover a variety of organizational / business areas and is certainly not limited to just EA-IT. But businesses leaders define these distinctions not standards bodies and we must be flexible to accommodate the landscape. Your observations seem more applicable to the evolving practice of Business Architecture.

      • Thanks, Andras – and yes, the relationship between business-architecture and enterprise-architecture is another point that requires its own exploration.

        This needs a more in-depth and out-front reply, so I’ll blog separately on it and then edit this comment here to add the link.

  1. RE: but Open Group et al. have ‘won’

    OK, once more with feeling — The Open Group itself does not have an agenda. The Open Group staff provides support to its members so the members can collaborate to solve the problems they (the members) feel need to be solved. The members of The Open Group codify their understanding of the thinking of the community at large. If the EA community thought differently about EA, TOGAF would look different. What The Open Group does is an effect, not a cause. If there’s a problem with the way people think about EA, it’s because the vast majority of the EA community thinks that way, not because The Open Group, or anyone else, is making them think that way.

    So for me the issue is not blaming The Open Group and using that as an excuse to give up, but instead trying to understand why the EA community is so wedded to ideas that have not changed fundamentally in 35 to 40 years. I find it remarkable that a community that tries to market itself as the preferred path to innovative change is itself so intellectually stagnant, if not downright hostile to change and innovative thinking.

    I, like you, have been arguing for a decade that thinking about EA needs to change, that to continue to “gild the lily” of an IT-centric perspective on “business/IT alignment” is painting EA into a corner that will inevitably marginalize EA as a discipline, and relegate it to the “back office”, if it doesn’t die off completely as IT services become ever more commoditized and virtualized and the action moves to the front office. Already we see emerging disciplines like Enterprise Design and Design Thinking competing for mindshare with EA, and the Business Architecture community is increasingly trying to position itself as an alternative to EA, rather than as an integral part of it.

    So, if we believe that EA as we think of it has real value, the answer is not to give up, but to understand why the EA community is so shortsighted and either blind or indifferent to the threats that surround it.

    I think part of the answer has to do with banging our collective heads against the wall of trying to convince a consumer community of people who actually want (i.e., are willing to pay for) this stunted notion of EA that they should want something else. Sorry, they’re not buying it. Maybe we need to convince a different audience of enterprises that aren’t commercial businesses with huge IT infrastructure investments that, as you have put it, “making things work together deliberately” is the path to their success.

    • Once more with very considerable feeling: No. And it greatly saddens me, Len, that you’re still so willing to act as their shill on this, when you know, just as much as I do, just how much of an active part they have played, and continue to play, in creating this mess, and continuing to make it worse with every single passing day.

      Open Group have known for at least a decade that they should not describe TOGAF as an ‘enterprise-architecture framework’. (If something bases itself on the BDAT frame, as TOGAF does, then by definition it is an IT-infrastructure framework, not an enterprise-architecture framework.) They had their chance to correct that mistake back in 2008-9, with the lead-up to and launch of TOGAF 9. They – the Open Group Architecture Forum members,
      and Open Group itself as the publisher – chose not to correct it: they were warned, by people like you and I, and they explicitly chose to ignore those warnings. Ever since that point, Open Group has been in explicit breach of the UK Trades Descriptions Act, because they know that TOGAF cannot deliver what it claims, which is an enterprise-architecture.

      So yes, Open Group et al. have ‘won’: a conscious misdescription has been successfully imposed on the market, by sheer force of marketing, and – let’s be blunt about this – deliberate false-advertising about the competency or applicability of TOGAF as a purported ‘enterprise’-architecture framework. (Much the same still applies to Archimate, even with the ‘extensions’ in the 3.0 version.)

      Those of us who work in real architecture-of-the-enterprise do not have Open Group’s marketing-clout. And with the waters now so successfully poisoned, it is probable we never will.

      There are battles worth fighting: but at my age I have to pick my battles more carefully than I did in the past. A decade of fighting that futile battle has left me all but broke, and emotionally and spiritually all but broken as well. I will deliver on my promises, as in the post; but other than that, it’s long since time that I should move on to other things that have a better chance of success – and in my now-twilight years, may even some chance of income too.

      Yet in the meantime, yes, I reserve my right to pour onto Open Group – members and organisation – the scorn and more that is their due for having caused, and still causing, so much damage to a much-needed profession, where they do not belong and should never have been.

  2. Thanks for the kind words Tom. I appreciate the respect you show me by dismissing me as a shill.

    Again, you continue to conflate The Open Group staff and the membership of The Open Group, and what is cause and what is effect. If you really believe that The Open Group, “by sheer force of marketing”, has “imposed on the market” a concept of enterprise architecture that is a deliberate misrepresentation of the conventional wisdom, there’s really no point in my trying to convince you otherwise.

    I’ve always thought of you as a thoughtful reasonable person. Maybe it is indeed time that you turn your attention elsewhere.


    • Yes, Len, though you might doubt it now, I am indeed “a thoughtful, reasonable person”. I always have been. That’s actually the problem: that I think too much, and that I care too much, for others far more than for myself.

      Yet I’ve suffered too much now from the behaviours of those who do none of those things – be thoughtful, be reasonable, or care. From those who were and are more in love with money than with truth.

      I’m sad about that. I’m always sad about that.

      And yes, I’m moving on. It’s a huge shame, for all of us in enterprise-architecture, that the Open Group did not.

      Enough said, I think. Oh well.

  3. I agree with Tom’s view of Enterprise Architecture as both business and IT.

    As a user of Capgemini’s framework IAF since early 2000, (with business, information, information, information systems and technology infrastructure) I clearly see the limitations of TOGAF.

    However, I don’t see the method as the greatest problem. IMHO is that Enterprise Architecture, in best case is owned by the CIO, not the other CxO in the company.

    I think my last assignment is a good example of Tom’s and my view of EA, but not the mainstream thoughts.

    The work was done on behalf of Head of markering & Sales. We started with the clients annual report and a Business Model Canvas to gather business need for an IT-solution. Not detailed IT requirements as usual.

    Finally, I would like to quote an expert who gave advice to Chris, Ann and John a few weeks ago. “The one method is to choose method depending on the situation”

    • Thanks, Casimir. Agreed on all of this, except for one (all-too-predictable? 🙂 ) objection:

      — “IMHO is that Enterprise Architecture, in best case is owned by the CIO, not the other CxO in the company”

      I really really strongly disagree with this. IT-architecture, yes, that (probably) belongs to the CIO. EITA, yes, that (possibly) belongs to the CIO. But literal-EA as ‘the architecture of the enterprise’? – absolutely not: by definition, it must belong to the board as a whole.

      Reasoning? If literal-EA is assigned to a single CxO, the enterprise-architects will immediately find themselves in the unhappy position of pig-in-the-middle in all manner of turf-wars as soon as they (necessarily) step outside of that CxO’s turf. (Yeah, been there, done the T-shirt…) It really, really doesn’t work.

      So if you assign EA to the CIO, it means that you’re forcing its scope to be constrained to IT-only, rather than literal-EA. Not A Good Idea…?

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