Is EA broken? Does EA have value?

These are the questions de jour on many forums, in recent trade articles and across the LinkedIn environment. It would be easy to simply respond with “no” and move on, but nobody has time for such a short response, so this longer response is required.

I have always been a huge fan of utilising analogies to explain concepts, so I shall not deviate from my previously successful actions and do the same here by exploring EA via the analogy of a Marketing Plan.

I doubt anyone would disagree these days that any corporation should operate without a Marketing Plan and that as such, any efforts expanded by a corporation would otherwise, at best, be considered ad-hoc and, at worst, wasteful and disorganised.

A Plan is, according to many dictionaries, defined as “a scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective”.

A marketing plan is not a spreadsheet of activities. It’s not an editorial calendar. It’s not a list of surveys, research assignments and campaigns. It’s not a budget or set of goals. It isn’t a set of articles or models from McKinsey. It isn’t something you think you have in your head.
It is a strategy.
It helps focus resources.
It is a plan for activities that stimulate objectives – like sales and growth.

The planning process helps you to understand the different factors that may affect your success. The process of creating a strategy plan involves three steps:

  1. An analysis of the firm’s internal and external environments;
  2. A decision on the what to emphasise and project; and
  3. The selection of action plans to guide the enterprise.

The very first, and arguably most important step, is to perform research and analysis of your business and the market it serves. Once you are confident that you know your business, your market and what you have to offer – then define your goals. With your goals in sight, you will then need to determine the guidance and tactics you will undertake in order to achieve them. Ideally, by mapping them into your landscape via some situational awareness.

Now, instead of worrying about the future, you actually have a sense of control over your direction, because your decisions, and any unexpected issues, are guided by an overall map and strategy governance.

This is as true for Marketing plans as it is Enterprise Strategies.

Throughout the processes of creating, implementing and evaluating your plan, it is important to realise just how valuable mapping and planning is for your company.

The secondary question of frameworks, methods or schools of thought are, to my mind, of little consequence in the overall argument. No amount of textbook correct implementation of FEAF, Zachman or <insert sparkly-new-fandangled framework here> is of any use if it does not produce – and communicate – a plan.

An Enterprise Architecture, just like a Marketing Plan, is a strategy that functions as a blueprint for everyone within the organisation to not simply see, but also to be guided by and follow. The company as a whole will know in what direction it is going – thus causing energy and efforts to be amalgamated and focused.

If you are not doing this as an EA, then yes, I may be inclined to agree that you are the problem and, by extension, your company is likely to believe that EA holds no value.

Whilst I may disagree with a few of the definitions spouted by many respondents and claimants of expertise across the many forums and articles I have read, my initial yardstick of measure will be the success the communication of “the plan” has had on the non-IT departments of the corporation – namely the support they offer and the amalgamated effort that is spent by those departments in aiming to achieve its success.

More rambling thoughts on Solution/Enterprise Architecture

What is EA?

This question, frankly, is the largest issue across the industry and thus the reason my initial response is such a mish-mash of definitions. Essentially, it comes down to a difference of opinion within the base premise of Enterprise Architecture:

  1. EA is an IT discipline
  2. EA is a BUSINESS discipline

What (mostly?) everyone does seem to agree on, however, is that it is based on providing a business outcome through governance and strategy.

I will tell you up-front, my personal bias is towards the second perception – ie. a business discipline. To my current state of mind, this creates two definitions of EA being:

Enterprise Architecture: Noun: “Enterprise Architecture is organising logic for key business processes and capabilities reflecting the integration and standardization requirements for the firm’s strategic objectives and operating model.”

Enterprise Architecture: Verb: Enterprise Architecture is the process utilised in the aim of making better enterprises.

The Building Industry Analogy

I have a penchant to return to the building industry analogy to describe the structural breakdown of an Architect from Enterprise back to Solutions, Domain, Technical and Engineer levels.

The Enterprise Architect is the City Planner. They’re looking to solve larger issues that will affect the total landscape. They consider the interactions of the entertainment zone, development, farming, residential and industrial zones. This will require a number of considerations – infrastructure, telecommunications, waste management, traffic management – and the broad range of areas requires that they cannot get stuck on the miniscule details. Thus, they need to consider minimum guidelines that will become the planning regulations (governance) for the city (corporation) to be followed by those that begin the implementation work. The EA has a BROAD knowledge base across multiple domains.

Solution Architects are Town Planners. Like the Enterprise Architect, they are focussed on managing the governance and strategy for a range of domains, however, they are focussed on a smaller level whether or not it is part of a larger Enterprise (City). Like the EA, the SA also has a BROAD knowledge base across multiple domains, though may still have some strong depth in key arenas as they often “graduate” from Domain Architects.

Domain Architects: These are cross-specialty multi-domain experts. Unlike the Solution Architect, they are often focussed on a range of complementary domains in which they have some DEEP knowledge accentuated by a BROAD base. In the building industry, these may be Architects who focus on Industrial Estates, Shopping Centres or on estate-wide water and utilities planning. In the world of Business and IT, we can consider these to be Industry or Portfolio Architects, Consulting Architects or simply Information System Architects.

Technical Architects: The draughtsmen of the industry. These are the people with the deep skills in a certain domain. They pull together the governance, strategy and requirements and develop an implementation design that meets the unified scope. A Data, Applications or Infrastructure Architect all meet this definition.

Engineer: Like in the building industry, we often make use of specialists to determine the finalk design meets the specifications for a particular domain or speciality. These are the people who do the detailed work on the plans. This can include DataBase Architects, Firewall Architects, Design Engineer or Engineering Architect.

see a model I tried to represent a while back

Why do I blather thus? Because, in my world view, an EA should be able to take up the reigns within any industry and utilise their skills, knowledge and abilities to make use of any of the skillsets of the “architects” for that industry.

Technology is not simply IT.

On EA vs SA and the debates over Frameworks

If an EA team is concerned with the enterprise-wide optimisation of business systems, then some form of understanding is required – a framework assists in the processing of that understanding. A framework, after all, is “a basic structure underlying a system, concept, or text.” Essentially, it matters not if you utilise Zachman, PEAF or some strange mystic runic system as long as it is consistent, communicable and functional.

If it assists in improving business systems whilst ensuring management and stakeholders understand the impact so as to commonly work towards minimised risks and maximised opportunities – then does it matter? In the end, the goal is to improve the enterprise and the measure of that should be in the reduction of complexity and increase in agility?

TOGAF may not be a “an all-out, wholehearted, EA method” – however – it does lead the primary audience of the (related) craft towards it through the influenced accumulation and iterations of TOGAF from IT Architecture (back) towards Enterprise Architecture. In fact, I would not be surprised to see the future iterations begin to incorporate elements from other frameworks to bolster it towards TOGEAF.

To iterate, if the process you are undertaking, regardless of framework utilised, is tactical, then it is a SOLUTION Architecture. If the process you are undertaking is far more abstract, defining strategies, policies and standards for cross-organisational and enterprise wide strategic value, then it is an ENTERPRISE Architecture.

The knowledge path for EA

So what is the path for an EA? I’m still nutting that one out and has been part of the overall discussions and debates that surround the process of the restructuring a curriculum in the corporate university for the training and guidance in the graduate programme.

My  personal view encompasses that TOGAF should be part of that learning path for all aspirational EAs and should perhaps even be incorporated into the MBA. I have often used my analogies and “alternative technology examples” in discussing and teaching the ADM – it offers a better grasp of the framework for thinking beyond one’s own responsibilities and in considering the larger enterprise and stakeholder landscape.

However, as stated above, TOGAF is still very much a tactical, change implementation focussed Architecture Framework as essentially, you can break up the ADM into 4 core groupings – Getting the vision right & the organisation committed (Prelim & Phase A) – Aligning the Architecture (B / C / D) – Managing the Implementation/Transformation (E / F / G) – Manage & Maintain the Operations (H / Req Mgt). It is thus thoroughly necessary to ensure a range of aspects – including unified taxonomy and standardised processes.

Does an EA need to follow a layered approach? Should they be exposed to the Delivery or domain architectures? What should they look like if that is the case? Would people agree with this as a basic map and overlay view?

Is this the Architecture layer map?
Is this the Architecture layer map?
Layered Skillsets and capabilities?
Layered Skillsets and capabilities?

Most of the areas of additional learning arenas that come into play towards discussing the EA training path – such as skilling up with the BABOK or PMI – really are just boosting or rounding out the skills within the ADM, they aren’t really furthering the skills and mindsets towards the enterprise wide strategic value element of EA thinking.

So what assists with that element of thinking and skilling up? What should be part of the toolkit for the aspiring Enterprise Architect?

Implementing a Corporate EA training capability framework?

This is a rambling entry, because one of my biggest issues is that my brain is always churning. I have thoughts that keep cycling, re-cycling and uncovering new stones ad infinitum. So sometimes, when it comes to writing – my thought processes makes it impossible to provide any form of standardised flow of defined structure. So, I’m not going to bother Continue reading Implementing a Corporate EA training capability framework?

does it matter how you will be remembered?

On the semi-collaboration-social network that is run by the global company I work for, a few of us try to take the time to discuss philosophy. A topic that triggered a number of synaptic storms was the question someone posted titled: “How would you like to be remembered?”

The discussion was triggered with the poem:

One hundred years from now,
It won’t matter what car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much I had in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like,
But, the world may be a little better
Because I was important in the life of a child.

– Unknown

Now many would make references such as citing Mark Twain who once said, “So live that when you die, even the undertaker will be sorry” whilst Douglas MacArthur is remembered for saying, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away”. In fact a few did. I’m sure that if I threw the question at google or at the quotations database, a thousand easily referencable and enlightening quotations could be used here.

However, here’s the crunch – Does it matter?

Hero, villain, famous or infamous – it seems it can all change with a stroke of a pen and circumstance.

Imelda Marcos will probably remain remembered by her people as a tyrant whilst the rest of the western world tends to immediately recall her hundreds of pairs of shoes first. Columbus taught as the great explorer rather than focus on the fact that he was a living new world angel of death modelled tyrant. Even today we see history in the making and the re-telling of it warping the reality in all areas of the world – Ferguson, Hong Kong and North Korea.

So, once again I ask, does it matter how you will be remembered?

Are you living your life for the history books? Or for someone else’s story? Because with a couple of quick strokes, you can go from hero to villain in the telling.

So I wonder if we wouldn’t be better served asking the question of ourselves – how will I remember my life?

What I have always found interesting in asking this question to people, whether in forums or in person, is that once you strip away cultural, religious or subjective language there seems to only be a single fundamental difference in the responses and that was the focal point of the underlying philosophy. There seems to only be two divisions. There are those who uphold an external perspective – the view and judgement of an outside element, be it deity  society, friends, loved ones or writers of obituaries – and those that uphold the internal perspective – the view and judgement of their own internal elements.

Does it fundamentally matter if the end result is the same? Perhaps not. But I do find it interesting – watching those that “do” for reasons beyond themselves versus those who “do” for reasons within themselves. The motivation (i.e. why?), mind you, is what I’m discussing here – the reason, the purpose – is most often external.

That difference is something I noted with social experiments such as where participants are requested to perform random acts of kindness for and to others. I am amused by the amount of people who need to ensure that the kindness is recognised, if not applauded. That element of an external validation.

Common responses to these conversations may contain elements of the following:

  • I do not want to coast through life just existing
  • I do not want to waste my potential
  • I want to live a life of purpose.
  • I would like to be remembered as someone that made a difference
  • Someone that stood up for the underdog and fought for justice on all levels
  • Volunteered at not-for-profit groups to support causes,
  • Performed random acts of kindness
  • Mindful of and active in reducing the global footprint
  • Recognised when a person needed help and helped
  • Developed knowledge to increase awareness and education
  • Controlled negative emotions so as not to inflict on others
  • Practised patience, tolerance and forgiveness.
  • Community minded and compassionate.
  • I do believe one person can make a difference
  • I’d like to inspire others to be more
  • If I have made a difference to just one being then my life has been purposeful.

I often agree with the sentiments of each and every one of those points, but I always challenge them by wrapping my previous question and ask if these activities are only worth achieving if some form of recognition is provided?

I reiterate, does it fundamentally matter if the end result is the same?

There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—
God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

— Kurt Vonnegut via God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

I wonder if that external element, which I admit to the perception that all religious “reward” systems come under, is what drives people?

If that external reward system was all gone – if it was proven that the universe is nothing but random chaos, colliding matter and an eternal Nietzschean darkness thereafter – would the simple knowledge of doing good – of being a change for the better, of improving the lives around you, beyond you or your community – would these still be worthwhile ventures?

Now, if the answer is yes, well, then I return to the question: Does it matter if no one is aware of your part and thus no one remembers it?

For better or for worse, the reality is that most of our societal, cultural and theistic structures are based around external validation and judgement.

One might argue that the process of the self examination, of questioning and the aim of overcoming is the driving force of an authentic existence. Thus, self-overcoming is, by nature if not by definition, an internal standard that most people set themselves along the path to improvement.

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people.
But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind.
It needs people who live well in their places.
It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane.
And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.

— David W. Orr, Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World

So, be honest and ask yourself what what would the response be if you had to chose only one of the two following scenarios for your life?

  1. To have lived a life making significant positive differences to the world and in the lives of people, but nobody remembered; or
  2. To have lived your life without an aim to do so, but were mistakenly credited as having done so?

Are you happy with that response?

Regardless of your beliefs, assume you have one life, make it one you are proud of. Remember no one lies on their deathbed wishing they had finished one more ten hour shift! Do you know what they do regret? They regret that they did not have the courage to live a life true to themselves, to express their feelings and to have let themselves be happier. So, do yourself a favour – lie down, imagine it’s your deathbed, and start reciting the story of your life … What is your story? What are the highlights? Who are you reciting it to? Now, work back from there … what do you need to make your life meet that story half way and continue from there?


What are you going to do about it?

The semi-regular review of my personal cloud apps

Last time I updated this was back in 2012, so, I guess it’s about time …

So, what’s changed?

Well, I still utilise Android as my phone OS of choice, I still have the iPad bought back then, but I haven’t updated it, and when it dies, I am unlikely to replace it – or if I do, it may be an Android device it is replaced with.

I considered buying a surface or Samsung Note to go BYOD, but in the end decided none of those options had the level of processing and memory capacity I required for some of the DABI tasks I undertook, thus I chose to upcycle my early-2011 17″ Macbook Pro by adding a 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM to it, upgrading to Yosemite and Parallels 10 to run a Windows 7 VM for use with work based apps such as Lotus Notes, MS Office and MS Sharepoint tools.  This has been a rather satisfactory result.

I have been making a concerted effort to evaluate the differing cloud based application offerings – choosing those that offered a good mix of bang-for-buck, cross-platform compatibility,  security and ease of use. Thus some of my offering choices have changed. 

  • eMail is maintained via the Google Mail & App Services which is still the no brainer choice here. The continued improvements of the integrated Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Drive and if you are inclined, hangouts and plus,  The implementation of inbox is also making this a choice of preference for another year. I just wish they would allow inbox to become the one window view to all my accounts, not just one eMail address at a time.
  • Storage is something that has undergone a number of contenders over the last few years. I was a fan of Dropbox, but then SugarSync stole my heart. Then I flirted and had serious affairs with Cubby and but in the end, I started forking out my hard earned dollars to TresorIT. Built for security, it offers a range of ACL options, the ability to selectively sync folders between devices, the ability to implement two-factor authentication, the ability to utilise groups and policies, IP Filtering, Device management, DRM … well, you get the idea – plus they are constantly tryinbg to improve and add new features, which is nice.
  • Evernote : It’s a constant for me – I was introduced to the application back in the day when it was still a thick client that had just introduced a “run on USB” portable option. It is the next best solution for keeping all your ‘business’ in one place. It has replaced Pocket, Reader and Instapaper for my “read it later” functions and now it is lIke a digital memory box – with OCR, camera, handwriting and audio notes, plus and an ever increasing set of capabilities that makes it hard to leave the platform. In fact, when I looked at onenote as part of the (workplace) desktop SOE, I decided that I would need IFTTT to have a better connector to send my content back into Evernote.
  • The Chrome browser : A few years ago, I was using the “Chrome to Phone” and  “Phone to Chrome” as well as the XMARKS bookmark sync engine. Frankly though, simply utilising Chrome on all of my devices allows me to synchronise bookmarks, form data, tabs and even push pages to a specific mobile device. It has all but become a cloud based browser. Though, with the known memory leak issues of Chrome on Windows, I can understand why people are starting to get annoyed with it.
  • LastPass : The “last password you need to remember” password managment system that integrates across devices, browsers and is cloud accessible. Plus the secure notes feature now allows you to add attachments (images, pdf, etc) to them, making it a great way to photograph all of your IDs, cards, passports, etc and keep them lockd behind a two-factor authentication and the best part is, this “premium” feature costs all of $12/year!
  • Whilst I like the google Doc options, the CloudOn service when I originally discovered it a few years back was a cloud based MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint service that was not just “compatible” but was an actual MS Office environment. However, since then it has reinvented itself into a Simple, Powerful Doc Editor. It’s nice, but it’s not what I wanted, but essentially, I guess the O365 made the original venture uncompetitive. This has led me to need to look at this arena again. For 90% of my document writing, editing and presentation needs, the Google offerings are fine. Yet, nothing I have found (yet) is as powerful as excel for the DABI that I do. The range of array formulas and index lookups I perform on even my simplest sheets is enough to drain most machines into a paging frenzy – so for now, excel must remain a thick client.
  • The demise of the google reader left a few of us in the lurch. There were a number of contenders for replacement, but in the end, Flipboard became my default reader. RSS feeds aren’t as simple to feed into it, but via various methods, they can still be fed into your account, plus, if you’re so inclined, you can create your own flipboard magazine to keep articles of interest on for yourself or to share with your friends.
  • Task managment is somethign I am still flipping between with and Google.Tasks both leapfrogging each other every six months or so to become my flavour of the month, as it were. I’m not sure which one will win out in the end.

So, other than the LIMA I am expecting to receive when it exits beta next year, then that’s it for now. I may not end up getting a new PC or laptop in a few years, the new QNAP devices are now offering virtualisation engines and the ability to plug a keyboard, mouse and HDMI device directly into them to utilise VMs directly when at home, and with a good tablet, remote access to them will also be a breeze.

So, once again, So, that’s my list for now … what else is out there that you’d recommend? If so, let me know, otherwise, untill next time.

Happiness, depression and coping in general.

How many times have you heard a variation of this?

  • Happiness is a choice.
  • Having an “attitude of gratitude” is something we can foster.
  • You make your reality
  • We can influence the way we [ think | act | feel ]
  • You choose to be positive.

If you are a natural cynic, a sufferer of depression or otherwise jaded with the world then your immediate attitude and response to being told to “choose to be happy” may very well have been the same as mine, namely “go fuck yourself” or some form of derivative invective thereof.

Continue reading Happiness, depression and coping in general.

Forty Two

Maybe because I am making my way towards this birthday milestone, the number has been on my mind recently. 

Way before I ever read the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy, the number held a mystical enchantment over my psyche.

In my formative years I was plagued by recurring nightmares. Whilst most could be diagnosed or rationalised as elements of an unfortunate childhood filled with emotional and physical violence, there was one that continued on throughout adolescents and well into my thirties.

In this dream, I am forty two years old and making my way through the laneways of Melbourne with friends who I cannot ever identify outside the dream but I perceive within it to be close. We are jovial and making our way between venues when I was hear something from inside one of the alleyways that makes me think someone needs help.

So I leave the group and make my way down the alley to see who needs assistance and *flash* my world goes white and with a sensation that my life has ceased I usually awake with a start.

Why this nightmare? Why that age? I have never been able to interpret it. I still have the nightmare, though thankfully less often than my younger years. So vivid are the images that I can practically replay it at will, but no matter my attempts to alter scenario with lucid dreaming, cognitive behavioural techniques and meditation have been fruitless.

I am no longer the naive and superstitious youth I once was, but I have wondered if it is a premonition of apropos shearing my thread on the wheel of fate.

It still triggers my thanatophobia every time I recall it, nonetheless.


eccentric by name and by nature


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