Open Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture isn’t my field. I did study Zachman decades ago (had a one-day training from the man himself!), but I haven’t done much.

I needed to summarise our ideas at Teal Unicorn in the context of architecture and this is what I came up with:
– All our thinking – including enterprise architecture – has to be more dynamic in the 21st Century. The world is VUCA. Trends are not steady, extrapolation is a fool’s game. We cannot foresee the future. A technology architecture for 10 or 15 years out is laughable. 5 years is challenging. Architectures must be constantly incrementally changing, not published in a one-time big-bang. So they need to be designed to be built and used that way. Two important fundamentals are agility and resilience.
– Architecture can no longer be imposed by a specialist group mandating via senior management. Knowledge workers work best with collaborative decisions via a flat authority structure. In fact, we should think of org structures, technology architectures, operating models and such constructs as being pulled by those who do the value work, not pushed on to them. This fits within a much bigger movement of humanity over bureaucracy.
– Nobody knows the answers in a complex adaptive system (and all organisations are a CAS). Everything is hypothesis (opinion) until we test it. All work is experiment. Architects cannot come up with opinions and publish them as law in the organisation. It’s all guesses, bets, and should be submitted and treated accordingly – with humility.

Every time I summarise this field, whatever the context, it always comes down to these three elements: human systems adaptability. This changes how we work and how we manage work. You will find these ideas in our books Open Management and The agile Manager (small “a”).