Friday, June 22, 2007


Enterprise Architecture and Consideration of Alternatives

Many enterprise architects repeatedly set themselves up to fail by solely relying on reports from large industry analyst firms and actually believing consulting firms that they have prior experience when reality may be different. In the world of venture capital, the notion of an exit hasn't yet made it to the world of enterprise architecture which of course starts with the ability to enumerate upfront possible alternatives when things to happen according to plan...

Of course having too many alternatives is also a trap but there should be some concentration on a limited set of well-formed methods and approaches which help guide the enterprise towards not only alternatives but also towards efficiency and effectiveness. Too many times to enterprise architects establish a direction which is inflexible.

One may reduce excessive alternatives by having previously thought out objective criteria which then can be used to evaluate the alternatives. Examples of some such criteria follow:

  • Would doing this inflict injury on anyone, damage their ability to live their lives as they choose, or make life worse for people who didn't choose to be involved?

  • Would doing this mean giving up likely small scale, short term success for a risky chance at long term future success? If so, is there a reasonable chance of the long term success being worth the present sacrifice?

  • Would doing this mean giving up one's word or a commitment made earlier?

  • Would doing this in addition to what is already being done cause dilution of effort and confusion of priorities as well as complications and necessity for reworking of existing operational components?

  • Would doing this create a quagmire of confusion and leave a tangled mess for those who may have to deal with it in the future?

  • Would doing this take us away from our core competencies (if you are employed by one of the few enterprises that have figured this out)? If so, would our likely learning curve let us effectively offer a higher value product than those who are already specializing in the area? Would that new expertise be more valuable than doing more of what we are already excellent at doing?

  • How many people would be affected if we succeed? In what ways would their lives be better? What would this mean to society? This of course you work for an enterprise that isn't ran by bean counters who don't have the ability to calculate return on humanity

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