I am possibly breaking a taboo by combining the words “Enjoyment” and “Enterprise Architecture” within the same website. I do however believe that Enterprise Architecture, or more specifically Service-Oriented Enterprise Architecture, should not necessarily be synonymous with multimillion spending on pompous consultants feeding you with alphabet soup of technical acronyms, producing massive blueprints over long hours that even their creators have trouble understanding, and inevitable disappointment of outcomes below expectations. I believe Enterprise Architecture is and should be the most enjoyable part of an Enterprise.
We enjoy creating and inventing things, that’s in our DNA. People plant their gardens, help their children with school projects.
I recently caught up with an executive who participated in one of my Enterprise Service Transformation Draft exercise. I was delighted to hear a confirmation that our specifications were implemented and enabled rapid expansion into new markets and new services. However what really touched me was that he was referring to the exercise as “fun”, specifically mentioning the spirit of free thinking and innovation.
Service-Oriented enterprise re-thinking is a unique opportunity to evaluate what’s great and exciting about this particular enterprise, where is the value, what the people are good at. To produce the Draft we had to capture the motivation and directions at the higher level. Then we identified Business Components, and spend some time thinking the best way to productise the Business Components. Through the exercise, the participating executives and Architects were allowed absolute freedom of innovation, not constrained by political considerations. The ideas were instantly presented as visual models and were analyzed by other participants.
The exercise not only unearthed the wealth of ideas and facilitated the better understanding of the enterprise, it also allowed the participants to reflect on what is positive and great about the company they work for, and made them genuinely enthusiastic about it.
Eventually an architecture has to be enacted. That brings long hours of not very exciting work, and also may require purchasing hugely expensive enterprise software, engaging large consulting outfits, documenting technical details and compromising with influential stakeholders. However there is no reason to reduce enterprise Architecture to that, at the expense of innovation and long-term strategic outcomes.
If there is no fun part in your quest for Service-Oriented Enterprise Architecture, you have missed a very important step.