Monday, September 03, 2007


Enterprise Architecture: Why IT Governance may be Design by Committee in disguise...

Given a political environment in which no one person has enough clout to present a design for a system and get it approved, how do you get a design done?

Often, a problem can be clearly identified for which no existing solution fits well. For instance, the Department of Defense figured out in the mid-late 1970s that the existing programming languages that were being used for big military projects just didn't cut it. FORTRAN and COBOL were not going to allow programmers to write the programs necessary to build things like SDI as they didn't provide large-scale programming support, encapsulation, or a host of other things that language designers had decided that were needed. However, no one had the force of personality or knowledge to drive through a single, consistent solution.

The resulting action was to put together a big committee to solve them problem (aka governance). In committee-oriented architectures the notion of driving towards consensus becomes pervasive where it becomes more important for each person to heist their legs add their own unique smell than to drive towards anything that feels like conceptual integrity.

The solution emerged and it is now known as ADA. The language itself met the needs of the government but in hindsight added to the costs of future government projects as average folks were busy learning more traditional languages. For the record, it is was neither super-popular nor a super-failure but only reached the status of mediocrity not unlike most things that are governed. You will also see that the Federal government has moved to languages that the rest of the planet uses and they now have a better chance of success in terms of finding more skilled people to develop applications.

The topic of governance and why enterprise architects should avoid it like the plague will require multiple blog entries. Let's just acknowledge that something needs to occur and since many of us like analogies, I propose we consider the notion of stewardship over governance. Study how unions work in terms of ensuring an agenda and protection of its employees and apply this model to the enterprise and you may find something with more repeatability and conceptual integrity than what passes today as governance...

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