A Systemic Perspective to Managing Complexity with Enterprise Architecture

ASystemicPerspectivetoManagingComplexitywithEnterpriseArchitecture-coverPallab Saha’s book on systemic perspectives for managing complexity with enterprise architecture is now officially published by IGI Global.  I have written Chapter 13, ‘Enterprise Architecture’s Identity Crisis: New Approaches to Complexity for a Maturing Discipline’.  The 18 month process was a reminder of the creation cycle times for this type of content. It seems that social media’s immediacy has done little to escalate the pace or compress the effort of producing a traditional academic work of 26 authors.

When I first started collecting thoughts and materials on what I began to understand as enterprise architecture’sidentity crisis’, I was reacting to my perception that IT-centric EA was increasingly facing a crisis of relevance. My experience of the unrealised promise of EA led me to think and discuss questions of theory, practice and purpose. ‘Identity crisis’ seemed an appropriate metaphor for the challenges facing enterprise architecture.

If I may be allowed to quote from Chapter 13:

Enterprise architecture has an identity crisis. It is no longer enough to apply structural tools and problem decomposition to every kind of business problem, as may have been done successfully in the past – the complexity of today’s business challenges is not always amenable to a ‘divide-and conquer’ approach.

As a consequence of this and other factors, enterprise architects need to look beyond its traditional foundations in a search for a new and more relevant identity.  Like a teenager realising that the black and white world of childhood is in fact rendered in a thousand shades of grey, enterprise architecture must re-establish its identity before it can reach a new level of maturity for its next three decades.

The discipline must re-evaluate its purpose, relationships, obligations and responsibilities to the organisations it serves. It must infuse new approaches and methods from outside its traditional domain of engineering to tackle the sorts of dynamic and ill-defined problems and systems rational analysis cannot solve.

The Chapter goes on to propose new perspectives, approaches and tools for tackling the ill-defined problems inherent in socio-technical open systems, whilst maintaining coherence with enterprise architecture’s principles, foundations and metamodel.

Eighteen months on, having seen a pre-publication copy of Pallab’s book, I am pleasantly surprised to see how consistently the various author’s chapters exhibit progress on new and more organisationally and socially aware models for architecting the enterprise.  If this book is any indication, EA is indeed maturing into its next life-stage.  Its pulse is strong.

I used to wonder if my ‘identity crisis’ notion would appear radical.  Now, when I see it in the context of the complete book, it seems perfectly natural.  Perhaps I should have gone further out on that limb.

For now, Amazon gives you some visibility online.  I will summarise reviews and any reaction down the track.

Call me old fashioned, but there is still something satisfying about having contributed to a book that makes a load ‘clunk’ when dropped on a table.


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