Going, going, gone… and start again
I’m now seventy years old. Today is the day that I retire from ‘enterprise’-architecture, so that I can concentrate more on enterprise-architecture.
And no, that’s not a contradiction.
The point here is that there are two different approaches that are both described as ‘enterprise architecture’.
The first is EWITA – enterprise-wide IT-architecture. It does have its valid uses, but it should never be described as ‘enterprise-architecture’, for the simple reason that its only real interest is the use of IT in the enterprise, not the enterprise itself. Unfortunately, most of what purports to be ‘enterprise-architecture’ at present is actually either misapplied EWITA and/or EWITA-flavoured ‘business-architecture’, which all but guarantees its failure in the enterprise context. As of today, I consider myself to be formally retired from anything to do with that type of ‘enterprise’-architecture.
The other approach is enterprise-architecture as the literal ‘the architecture of the enterprise’ – the dynamic structure and story of the enterprise as a whole. Unlike misapplied-EWITA and the like, this whole-enterprise architecture is simple, straightforward, effective, easy to learn and easy to apply. And also unlike EWITA – which, by design and definition, can only work well with the IT of the enterprise – this approach works the same way everywhere, across every aspect of the enterprise, every type of content or context, every scope and scale, every timescale, every stage of change from big-picture strategy to real-time operations and back again. And we can apply this to every type of enterprise, from one person’s business-model to the enterprise of life itself. That’s the form of enterprise-architecture to which I’ve committed myself for at least the next few years.
Whilst techniques from whole-enterprise architecture can be used to minimise the risk of failure in EWITA-based ‘enterprise’-architecture, most current EWITA-based approaches will cause failure if we attempt to use them alone at a whole-of-enterprise scope and scale. There’s a difference between those two forms of ‘enterprise-architecture’: don’t mix them up!
Another reason why I’m walking away from ‘enterprise’-architecture is that I simply can’t afford to do it. Too many people still seem to think that everything I do must be available to them ‘for free’ – which, if true, would mean I have no way to survive within the insanity of the money-economy. And despite repeated warnings, way too many people persist in playing dirty with ‘unfair questions‘ – two more just this week, in fact, one of them wanting to ‘pick [my] brain’ ‘for free’ whilst they themselves were being paid full consultancy-rates by their client to ask the questions. This has to stop: so, from today onward, I will not answer any question about business-related enterprise-architecture without upfront payment of a professional-level fee – a minimum of at least USD$100 to respond to the question at all, with a reasonable hourly rate thereafter. I’m retired now: don’t even think of dragging me back into that mess unless you’re willing to pay for it…
This weblog – http://weblog.tetradian.com – has well over a thousand posts on the theory and practice of enterprise-architecture, with all of that unique, original, ground-breaking material at present still available to everyone for free. However, it’s not ‘free’ for me – in fact it costs me several hundred dollars a year so that others can have it for free. Given the negative-income I get at present from almost every interaction I have with the enterprise-architecture community, I’m not sure that I can afford to keep it going much longer. If you do want it to remain available for everyone, please help me maintain that website by supporting me on Patreon. This would also fund a site redesign to make it easier to find content on specific themes, and the development-sequences for key ideas and tools for whole-enterprise architectures and system-design.
I’ll continue to post on Twitter and LinkedIn regular free ‘from-the-archives’ re-posts of articles from the weblog. Many of these seem to have been way ahead of their time when first published, so a lot of that content will still be experienced as new, especially for those who’ve recently joined the enterprise-architecture community.
Also note that from now on, Patreon will be the only place where I’ll be publishing new material on business-related enterprise-architecture – such as the post I’m working on at present about how to use an extended version of Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model as a completeness-checklist for service design. These posts will be available only to people subscribing to the Patreon at USD$5/month and above.
Subscribers on Patreon also help us develop new books and training-materials for enterprise-architecture and business change, such as the Change-mapping books and worksheets:
(Huge thanks to all of our existing Patreon subscribers for their support in this work!)
My relatively-new ‘Small Changes‘ newsletter on Substack will focus more on whole-enterprise architecture and social change, and will remain free for the foreseeable future. However, if there’s enough interest, I may add a new paid-subscriber-only section for a regular ‘Ask Me Anything’ on business-related enterprise-architecture and business change – please let me know if you’d like this to happen.
Over the next few months I’m aiming to publish on Leanpub ebook-anthologies of posts from the weblog. In addition to updates to the existing anthologies on SCAN and Enterprise Canvas, it’s probable that new topics will include: tools and toolsets for enterprise-architecture; theory and praxis for enterprise-architecture; perspectives and disciplines for enterprise-architecture; whole-enterprise architecture; big-picture architecture and social change (RBPEA); people, power and the human side of systems; and the role of generalists. There’s also a new edition of the Changes business-novel coming soon – including a print-edition for the first time, and also a possible audio-book.
It’s not just business-related fiction, of course. Over the coming years I’d really like to place more focus on my sci-fi stories, such as my Australia-future novel Yabbies, and my series in the sort-of-steampunk world of The Viner Codex – “Weird politics, weird plant-things, weird battles where nobody dies”:
I’ll still happily work on EWITA, if anyone wants to pay me to do it – but I’ll admit there are many other people who are much better at it than I am. After twenty years watching that field, though, it’s hard now not to feel cynical about it that form of ‘enterprise’-architecture: so much hype, so often so little actual delivered value… I’ve done what I can to minimise the damage that it can cause, but the ‘official’ frameworks are so riddled with so many hard-wired errors and misframings, and there seems overall to be so little rigour, discipline or relevance to anything real, that I’m often forced to wonder what is the point of it anyway – or whether there is any meaningful point to it at all. Oh well.
And also – and importantly – whether there’s much point in doing architectures for business that merely increases the risk we’ll no longer have a planet on which we can do business… It’s more than about time that, as a profession, we all acknowledge that there are higher priorities than propping up delusory short-term profit for the same pack of parasites who’ve created this global scale mess in the first place. But that’s why I’m focussing now on whole-enterprise architecture: it includes IT and the like wherever necessary, of course, but the real point is that it’s always about people first and foremost – and about concepts, tools and methods to ensure we have a better chance for a more survivable, sustainable and preferably joyful world, for everyone, onward into the future.
I do still want to support this via the ‘digital-nomad’ bit…
…though the in-person parts of that will have to wait until the lockdowns ease off enough to let me travel around to wherever I need to go. In the meantime, I’ll be able to do at least some of that as a set of online training-courses on whole-enterprise architectures and the like – such as a simple, straightforward, easy-to-learn session on “come in with an idea, leave with a viable business-model”.
More detail on that later, though. For now, there’s a lot of clean-up and suchlike to do, to set things up for the new direction. And, for today, a moment’s rest, to relax a bit for my birthday, this life-marker of ‘three score and ten’ – and perhaps reflect and celebrate somewhat on what I have been able to achieve in the past two decades’ work on enterprise-architectures and so much more.