In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been kinda pouring out the posts on enterprise-architecture and the like, over the past few weeks or so… (A few people have complained about the overload, and probably with good reason, too! Oh well. My apologies, anyway.)
What’s happening for me is that it seems all of the work I’ve done on enterprise-architecture theory and practice over the past several years is suddenly coalescing into something big. It feels like I have a handle, or hook, or something, onto a radically different approach to how we do architecture-work in an enterprise-context, and in particular how we document that work and use that documentation to drive and support more-viable enterprise change.
The practical problem is that it’s all crashing around in my head, coming at me from all sorts of different metaphorical directions – metamodels, toolsets, methodologies, metaphors, the lot – and I’m having real difficulty getting it all down into a usable form. I tend to work solo most of the time, but in this case, frankly, it’s become way too large to handle all on my own. I can’t hold all of it in my head at once: it’s too big, too complex, needs way too many different skillsets and experiences, some of what I’m trying to do is likely way too complicated at present, and it’s almost certain that some is just plain wrong.
Hence, to quote the famous phrase, “I guess I could do with some help here…”
To give an idea of the scale of what I’m trying to bring together at present, there are around 300 posts on enterprise-architecture here on this website (excluding the weekly ‘A week in Tweets’ posts), of which perhaps half – maybe more – describe some new idea or concrete item of research on EA and related themes. There are eight finished full-size books on enterprise-architecture so far in the set, and at least another two or three under development at present. There’s another website just on metamodels, and another weblog on ‘big-picture’ business-themes. There are fragments of notes and experiments scattered around on seven different computers here, not to mention ten years’ worth of paper-notebooks and sketch-pads, and discussion-notes and emails from colleagues and conferences and the like over most of that time-period, too. And all of it seems to be coming together all at once. Yikes…
The real focus, as has come up in the most recent posts, seems to be about techniques and toolsets, to take any starting-point – such as a business-model in Business Model Canvas – and expand outward to tackle all of the whole-enterprise issues, including themes such as quality, security, sustainability, continuity and so on. Here are links to some of those posts:
- From business-model to enterprise-architecture
- Upwards and sideways from business-model
- Why business-model to enterprise-architecture?
- Where marketing meets enterprise-architecture
- The Enterprise Canvas – a really simple summary
There’s stuff about metamodels to move beyond ‘classic’ IT-centrism:
There’s stuff about Agile in relation to enterprise-architecture – in particular a metaphor of ‘backbone’ that I still haven’t seen discussed elsewhere:
- Agility needs a backbone
- Architecting the enterprise backbone
- Tackling uniqueness in enterprise-architecture
There’s also a real need to address the human side of enterprise-architecture, including architecture-as-story and the almost-unacknowledged issue of narrative-knowledge (as opposed to IT-based information) in enterprise-architecture:
- Two points of view on (enterprise)-architecture
- Modelling people in enterprise-architecture
- People, power and enterprise-architecture
- The relationship is the asset
- Where have all the good skills gone?
- Who are your anti-clients?
- The enterprise is the story
And perhaps the real core of what’s happening for me now, around toolsets to cover that whole scope:
- The toolset-ecosystem
- Next-generation toolsets for enterprise-architecture?
- Enabling enterprise-architecture conversations
So: that’s the range of topics that I’m struggling with at the moment. Because it’s so huge, different parts of it keep drifting in and out of cognisance at any given time, so it’s difficult to maintain a sense of the whole. And the problem is that it does need to be tackled as a whole if we’re to avoid the same kind of trap that earlier forms of EA fell into, first with IT-centrism and process-centrism, and now all too often with business-centrism. The only thing that will work is to create something – a methodology, a metamodel, and a toolset-ecosystem, all linked together – that will fully support the awareness that in enterprise-architecture, everywhere and nowhere is ‘the centre’, all at the same time.
To be honest, I need help in all aspects of getting this down into usable form. But where I most need help is around the overall toolset(s). I think that the ideas are just about ready now for a proof-of-concept: but I doubt that I still have the technical skill to do much if any of it on my own. (The last significant software project I developed on my own was a wiki-based ‘engine’ that was used for a number of system-prototypes such as the SEMPER diagnostic: but it was back in the days of PHP4,and way too crude for todays’ standards.) To cover the whole toolset-ecosystem we’ll need whatever-it-is to compatible in some way or other with all of this scope:
- large cross-enterprise repository-based formal EA system (like Troux Metis)
- team-driven repository-based formal modelling system (like BizzDesign)
- single-user formal modelling system (like Sparx or ArchiTool)
- free-form desktop, notebook and/or web-based modelling system (like Visio) but can do round-trip to formal modelling
- tablet-style with gestural interface (like a cross between Prezi and BMTBox app on iPad)
- handheld, mostly browsing, but also able to feed back updates/suggestions
- paper-based, whiteboard, driven from book or ebook, etc
So: if you’re interested in ‘pushing the envelope’ for EA, you’re keen to work on some kind of collaborative project, and have some expertise in system-prototyping, user-experience design, workflow, graphics or anything of that kind, please get in touch with me? Because, yeah, I could do with some real help here…
Thanks in advance, anyway.