Monday, May 19, 2008


Is Enterprise Architecture better in Europe than America...

Joe McKendrick, John Michelsen, Ronald Schmelzer and Alan Inglis all have an opinion on whether Europe is ahead of America in their practice of enterprise architecture. I figured I would join the conversation...

There are several dynamics at work and in order to land on an answer, it requires understanding folks perspective on enterprise architecture. Europeans tend to be ahead of America in terms of documenting enterprise architecture and have embraced traditional text by Zachman and others. If you understand that Zachman and the academia approach is more about documentation and less about the practice then you may conclude that no one is ahead of another.

Enterprise architecture has to have a component where there is an enablement of the strategic intent of the business. This is more than cost cutting rationalization but involves innovation and focusing on the human aspects of technology above and beyond embracing a process.

Alan is correct that Americans spend more money on enterprise architecture but didn't go deep enough to understand how it is spent. Consider that the Federal government has the enviable task of managing consulting firms whose sole purpose is to extend their billings. When combined the need to have a phonebook thick contract for anything that is built while not acknowledging that big design upfront never works requires them to use enterprise architecture more to patch and manage chaos than to enable strategic intent.

Alan also didn't consider that American enterprises are organized much differently than their European counterparts. Americans love to create matrixed organizations and reorganize them frequently while Europeans tend to be more hierarchical and stable in structure. Architecture in America needs to be socialized, but when the targets of socialization tend to change, the costs of enterprise architecture will increase.

The model of influence also takes more effort and resulting expense when compared to a model that is more command and control. I suspect that European enterprise architects have more direct authority than their American counterparts who have to use influence as a tool...

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