Thursday, August 02, 2007


Enterprise Architecture is like Herding Cats

Today, I figured I would take the opportunity to say something positive about industry analysts while practice throwing daggers at Enterprise Architects...

Many enterprise architects are getting familiar with one noted industry analyst Brenda Michelson of Elemental Links a premier IT industry analyst firm that covers topics important to large enterprises such as SOA, EA and Business Architecture via her work on the SOA Consortium.

She has the painchallenge of getting architects from a variety of enterprises to discuss SOA and what it means to their organization and to discuss key points of maturity without all the added buzzword bullshit that can permeate the conversation. I admire her ability to be cheerful when talking with us enterprise types as I would more than like simply resort to telling pretty much everyone they are an idiot and immediately transferring their calls to Mister Dialtone.

It is fascinating to me to know that folks in many large enterprises still don't know what SOA is nor how to even build a service. Sure, they are enamoured with the wonderful Power Vendor strategy where software vendors come to their enterprise with lots of four-color chock-a-block eye candy Powerpoint and convince them that they need an Enterprise Service Bus while still remaining clueless as to what a service is.

I can't figure out why architects in large enterprises simply can't make themselves smarter on SOA. Its not like there aren't thousands of blog entries on the topic or thousands of magazine articles or even dozens of books. Any analyst firm will gladly provide you with soundbites that you can amplify within your organization that are neatly packaged.

The love of maturity models in any discipline within IT is equally fascinating. If you have to ask for one, then you should automatically assume that you are at the bottom of the pile. Maybe folks still haven't figured out the distinction between management and leadership and therefore get it twisted when it comes to maturity. If you practice the real meaning of leadership, the clarity of maturity clearly emerges. If you are a manager then the need for a maturity model also becomes apparent.

Here is a maturity model for enterprise architects copyleft 2007.

Level One: You are a lone grungy dog wandering around lost in the wilderness looking for a bone. Your whole persona is about scavenging for the next thing.

Level Two: You decide to organize yourself by forming a pack with other dogs who also scavenge.

Level Three: Your pack decides to organize itself in a repeatable manner where you have identified a common tree and you each heist your leg to add your own unique smell.

Level Four: You decide to as a a pack of dogs convince yourself that behaving like cats is best for perception management and you form a rigorous process to make your barks sound like meows. You also convince yourself that the other cats in the neighborhood truly believe that you are nicely aligned with their thinking when in reality the cats think you look foolish but won't say anything due to the amusement factor.

Level Five: You realize that you need to break away from the pack and demonstrate leadership. You have concluded that the best opportunity is now because all those level four dogs are too busy using process as a substitute for competence. You decide to stop pretending to be a cat and realize that you should instead focus on being the best dog you can be...

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