13 years, 6 months ago

How to combine Enterprise Architecture with Systems Thinking

#entarch #systemsthinking A great discussion yesterday between some systems thinkers from SCiO and some enterprise architects. This post is not a record of the meeting, but contains some of my thoughts following the meeting.

Does it make sense to combine EA and ST to create something we might call EAST?
Let me address this question in terms of the five perspectives outlined in my previous posts.

EAST as instrument Use ST to improve EA. Use EA to improve ST. Or create a composite instrument using elements of EA and ST.
EAST as discourse
Either find the intersection between EA and ST – common concepts and principles. Or find the union between EA and ST – complementary concepts and principles.
EAST as community
Encourage EA people to become part of the ST community, or vice versa. And/or facilitate collaboration between EA people and ST people.
EAST as knowledge
Use ST to investigate and critique EA. Use EA to investigate and critique ST.
EAST as trade or service
Use EA as a platform for introducing ST into organizations. Use ST as a platform for introducing EA into organizations (perhaps at a different level).

All of these combinations are theoretically possible. It is possible to take any two or more disciplines and create an arbitrary hybrid, as long as you have pretty weak standards of coherence and usefulness. Weak coherence may be an essential step for early innovation, but shouldn’t be an excuse for intellectual laziness. Gartner is currently pushing a specific hybrid, based on combining EA with design thinking together with some ecological ideas (panarchy), but I haven’t seen any practical results yet. See my post on Hybrid Thinking and my note on Methodological Syncretism.

The practical question is how any such possible combinations can be grounded in practical work, rather than being merely abstract combinations of ideas and slideware. So the next task for the EAST group is to find some practical business problems to work on together.