13 years, 6 months ago

EA and the Big Picture

#entarch Some people think that what uniquely characterizes enterprise architects is that they are the ones who “get the big picture”.

If this is true, it is because EAs have differently wired brains to the rest of humanity, or because their position and practices give them a different perspective on the enterprise? For a summary of a Twitter debate on this topic, see my blogpost Getting the Big Picture.

The next question is what this implies for the relationship between EAs and the rest of the enterprise. If EAs have these special powers of perception, do other people find this threatening? And how much of the Big Picture can be communicated? For a summary of a Twitter debate on this topic, see my blogpost Selling the Big Picture.

When I raised this question on the Enterprise Architecture Network group on Linked-In, Graham Berrisford thought this was a bit tautologous. “Enterprise Architecture is the big picture, therefore Enterprise Architects are the ones who have the big picture.”

But it is only a tautology if that’s how you define enterprise architecture and if you only recognize one kind of “big picture”. Stock market analysts and venture capitalists might have an entirely different “big picture”.

To the extent that enterprise architects have a single set of lenses for viewing the enterprise (e.g. Zachman), their claim to have THE big picture is disputable. (Hence my interest in lenscraft – the use of multiple lenses providing alternative perspectives.)

Tuomo Stauffer suggested that the big picture comes from the board. In which case EA’s job is not to “get” the big picture but to codify it.

But my question wasn’t just whether the association between enterprise architecture and big-picturehood was true, but also what this association would imply (a) for the recruitment and development of EA skills and (b) for the (possibly threatening) relationship between EAs and the rest of the management world.