Translating a visual enterprise architecture book from Dutch to English one is confronted by the syntax. In Dutch sentences can draw out over four, five or six lines yet they need to be broken up, turned around and harmonised in order to present readable English. The one thing that translation software does not do is to make sense or convey the writer’s intentions.
The importance of a working knowledge of a subject is paramount, some of the technical principles and concepts are lost when one tries to adhere to the linguistic formal translation. We have certainly drawn a wider appreciation of the reserved terms and pillars of systems engineering and their congruent corresponding terminology in Dutch. We understand the importance of integration principles, the value of object oriented paradigms such as the need for loose coupling and high coherence between architectural structures . These internationally recognised contexts provide a common language.
What has been even more interesting is the soft systems approach that is prevalent in the Dutch approach to enterprise architecture. It is more empathetic to the needs and views of stakeholders and the ways of working within enterprises. It leans towards building a consensus rather than providing hard dictats, it is a journey whereby the pace is determined by first building up a shared understanding.
When I worked in the Netherlands as an IT Architect, I brought my British baggage with me. I was used to working with a focus on delivering on time, to specification and within budget. These three aspects totally left community out of the picture. It was totally focused on delivery and stakeholders were thought of in terms of customers, clients, and any party that would benefit from a project. Some projects are so technically focussed that they squeeze the role of people to the fringe, the focus on technology means that they may deliver something that works but is it usable and is it accepted?
A system can be a total failure if it does not develop acceptance by the users, developers, IT support, and the people involved in daily operations. A concept that the Dutch use in systems development is the creation of Draagvlak – how does one describe it? Support, acceptance, but it is more about a genial buy-in where the IT and business community embrace new concepts or ways of working, which include technology. Technology is a tool, it is a means for achieving objectives and not an end in itself.
Interestingly, just because a soft approach is taken, it does not mean that it is in any way less technically precise. Its efficiency and effectiveness is enhanced. The emphasis is not upon reinventing the wheel, rather on the practical application of concepts for which reusable components have been developed.
As I continue with translating this work, I am reminded of the fond memories of working in Holland.