September 30, 2007

Centralized, Distributed, & Hybrid IT Management and Enterprise Architecture

In User-centric EA, users IT needs are met (timely and with quality solutions), while governance ensure that those needs are aligned with mission and prioritized with others across the organization. To achieve these goals, how should IT management best be organized in the enterprise—centrally or distributed?

The debate over a centralized or distributed management model is an age-old battle. A popular theory states that organizations vacillate in roughly three year cycles between a strong centralization philosophy and a strong decentralization philosophy. The result is a management paradigm that shifts from standardization to autonomy, from corporate efficiency to local effectiveness and from pressure on costs and resources to accommodation of specific local needs, and then shifts back again. The centralized system is perceived to be too slow to react to problems in the field or to issues within a particular company department or division, and the decentralized operation is perceived as fragmented and inconsistent.

To address the pros and cons of each model, there is a hybrid model for IT management, which incorporates centralized IT governance and solutions along with distributed IT planning for the line of business and niche execution.

In the hybrid model for IT governance, an IT Investment Review Board (IRB) centrally directs, guides, and authorizes IT investments through enterprise architecture, IT policy and planning, and a CIO governed-consolidated IT budget. At the same time, IT requirements come from the lines of business, and the lines of business develop their own segment (business) architectures. In some cases, the lines of business actually plan and execute niche IT projects for their areas, while the systems development life cycle for enterprise IT systems and customer support are handled centrally.

The hybrid model for IT management is a very workable and balanced solution that demonstrates true business acumen in that it recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches (centralized and distributed management), and capitalizes on the strengths of each in coming up with a best solution for the organization.


September 29, 2007

James Madison, the First “Federal Chief Enterprise Architect”

James Madison, Jr. (March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836) was an American politician and the fourth President of the United States (1809–1817), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States. Considered to be the "Father of the Constitution", he was the principal author of the document. In 1788, he wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, still the most influential commentary on the Constitution. As a leader in the first Congresses, he drafted many basic laws and was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and thus is also known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights". James Madison also drafted the Virginia Plan, which “called for a national government of three branches—legislative, executive, and judicial…The concept of checks and balances was embodied in a provision that legislative acts could be vetoed by a council composed of the Executive and selected members of the judicial branch; their veto could be overridden by an unspecified legislative majority.” (Wikipedia)

As the Father of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Virginia Plan, James Madison was the original Chief Enterprise Architect (CEA) for the federal government. As the Federal CEA, Madison architected the performance, business, and information perspectives of the federal enterprise architecture (the information technology side of the equation—services, technology, and security—would come later with the post-industrial, technological revolution)

Performance—The mission execution and expected results are laid out in The Preamble to the Constitution, that states: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Additionally, the Bill of Rights ensures that the government performs its business functions all the while protecting the rights of its citizens.

Business—The functions, activities, and processes are detailed in the Articles of The Constitution, including the functioning of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, as well as state and federal powers, and processes for amendments and ratification. Additionally, the checks and balances ensure that functions are well-defined and that limits are placed on each branch of the government to protect democracy and forestall tyrannical rule.

Information—The information requirements of the Federal government are provided for in the various branches of government. For example, the legislative branch, Article One provides for free debate (the archetype for information sharing and accessibility) in Congress. Additionally, the checks and balances between the branches, provides for information flow. For example, Congress enacts the laws, and these go to the Executive Branch to carry them out, and to the Judicial Branch to interpret them. Furthermore, the political value system, Republicanism, ensures that the people remain sovereign and that they not only elect their representatives and politicians, but also can provide information and lobby to affect the enactment of laws and regulations that will ultimately affect them. Citizens are asked to perform their civic duties and to participate in the political process, so there is a free-flow of ideas and information throughout the governing process.

James Madison is indeed the original federal chief enterprise architect and a very good one at that!


24 TV Series and Enterprise Architecture

“24, last year’s most Emmy Award-winning television series with five Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kiefer Sutherland) and Outstanding Drama Series, is one of the most innovative, thrilling and acclaimed drama series on television.” (

What makes 24 so thrilling?

Well there is the drama, the intrigue, the ever twisting plot and constant terrorist threats, and of course, Keifer Sutherland and the rest of the 24 team.

There is also the technology and its application to track the terrorists, communicate effectively, and the business intelligence to decipher the terrorist plots. While the technology is not perfect and often it is used by the terrorists to thwart CTU as well, it still comes across quite impressively.

On a Bluetooth technology website, I found this:

“Fox's hit television show ’24’ has always displayed the latest in cutting edge technology.CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) agents and terrorists alike. But which model of Bluetooth headsets are they actually wearing?” ( During this season (Day 5) of 24, Bluetooth wireless headsets can be seen constantly being used by both

The technology used in 24 is viewed as cutting-edge and trend-setting (i.e. everyone wants to know which model CTU is using).

On another site, Government Computer News, 7 January, 2007, it states: “Federal superspy Jack Bauer battles fate and countless foes on the hit TV show “24”—a drama unfolding in real time and depicted on several windows within the screen. Like the Bauer character, who himself is the fictional successor to an earlier superagent who liked his tipple “shaken, not stirred,” federal IT users frequently will have to share information quickly if they hope to prevail or even survive in 2007.” (

Again, the 24 series is viewed as a model for information technology users and IT sharing.

In the same GCN article, Homeland Security Department, G. Guy Thomas, the Coast Guard’s science and technology adviser for the Maritime Domain Awareness Project, states: “The ultimate goal that technologists and policy-makers should strive for is user-definable interfaces, which would provide a ‘common operational picture [COP] that serves as an interface to a collaborative information environment.’”

The COP contains an operational picture of relevant information shared by more than one command and facilitates collaborative planning and assists all echelons to achieve situational awareness. This type of operating picture is often seen being used in CTU to track and ultimately catch (with Bauer’s help) the terrorists.

For Homeland Security enterprise architecture, 24 can serve as a target state forsynthesizing business process and technology. For example, the integration between the business processes and the technology is virtually flawless in CTU, where business intelligence at the Los Angeles office is communicated and made virtually immediately available to the agents in the field for quickly following up on leads and cornering conspirators.

Additionally, even the character Jack Bauer himself displays not only tremendous heroism and patriotism in his efforts to protect this nation and its citizens, but also his innovative and can-do persona is a model for enterprise architecture development of creative yet grounded target technology states and transition plans for our organizations.

Additionally, from a User-centric EA perspective, we need to look outside our agencies at business and technology best practices in the public and private sectors, and yes, even at fictional portrayals. It is even from dramas like 24, and maybe especially from such visionary elements that EA can adapt information, creativity, and innovation to plan a genuine target state for our enterprises.


September 28, 2007

The Pareto Principle and Enterprise Architecture

In the book, The 80/20 Principle, by Richard Koch, the author states how we can achieve more with less effort time and resources, simply by identifying and focusing our efforts on the 20% that really counts.
The Pareto Principle or 80-20 Rule postulates that 20% cause yields 80% effect!

The corollary is that little of what we spend our time on actually counts, but rather by concentrating on those things that do we can unlock the enormous potential of the 20%.

In User centric EA, we recognize that there are limited resources in the enterprise and to be effective in using technology to enhance mission outcome and planning the future success of the organization, we have to first focus on the 20% where we can have the greatest impact on 80% of the organization.
In User-centric EA, we focus where possible on the low hanging fruit. We don't try to tackle all the problems of the organization at one time, but we implement a phased approach by tackling the issues with the biggest payback first. User-centric EA looks at the users and the enterprise’s pain points and identifies those areas where EA can have “the biggest bang for the buck".


Getting Performance Metrics Right

Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 3 has a great piece on developing “Metrics that Matter”.

The idea is that metrics are a critical management tool for tracking, managing, and ultimately, changing organizational behavior!

All too often, organizations do not develop or keep metrics on anything below a top-level organizational view, and even then just develop metrics that either make them look good (i.e. the metrics are very achievable) or that are easy to measure (i.e. the measures are readily available from existing data).

Organizations cannot really drive improved performance if they do not measure systemically and strategically thoughout the enterprise!

For IT metrics, Architecture and Governance Magazine proposes that we use three core categories of metrics:

  1. Strategic Value—The most difficult area to measure, but one of the most valuable from the business point of view; it “identifies the degree of a business unit’s effective use of technology,” to achieve mission execution and and results of operation.
  2. Project Management Effectiveness—this should “cover the quality, scope, and milestones…includes schedule adherence, functional delivery requirement specifications, and—the least often measured—return on investment for several years after deployment.”
  3. Operational Effectiveness (And Efficiency)effectiveness, which is the more important metric, involves measuring such things as customer satisfaction, cost-savings, income generation, or ehanced mission capabilities; efficiency, on the other hand, is where IT leaders often “drown executives in operational data such as help-desk resolution times and network uptimes—data that is meaningless to the corporate strategy and cements IT’s reputation as being little more than a janitorial service for technical systems.” Additionally, “if they demonstrate only efficiency, they play into the bean-counter mentality that all that matters is extracting more efficiency from the system. That’s an easy road to continued cuts…‘this cost focus had led to the suboptimatization of IT’…[and] can even lead to the eventual outsourcing of IT.”

In general, emphasize the top 2 categories of measures, and focus only on the 3rd “if the IT department has a history of failure and thus needs to be closely monitored on the basics.”

Finally, “a good rule of thumb is that there should be less than a half-dozen key metrics provided to executives…if they need more detail, provide the drill-down capabilities, but don’t make it part of the standard report.”

In User-centric EA, performance metrics are one of the primary perspectives of the enterprise architecture (which include performance, business, information, service, technology, security, — and human capital, in the future). The performance measurement view of EA is the pinnacle of the architecture, where we identify mission execution and results of operation goals and then track and manage to these. The performance measures cascade throughout the organization to build performance results, bottom-up, to achieve mission execution and the performance goals set at the highest levels.

Additionally, IT needs to take a front position (i.e. lead by example) in developing and managing to solid performance measures that not only demonstrate the effectiveness of its utility operations, but that demonstrates effective management of new IT investment dollars to bring new and enhanced capabilities to the end-users and most importantly, that it adds to the strategic results of the enterprise.


September 27, 2007

David Ben-Gurion and Enterprise Architecture

Ben-Gurion was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Important People of the Century.

“Part Washington, part Moses, he was the architect of a new nation state that altered the destiny of the Jewish people — and the Middle East.”

What made Ben-Gurion the great architect of state of Israel?

  1. Vision—Ben-Gurion had a clear vision for the future survival of the Jewish people. “Shocked by anti-Semitic pogroms in Eastern Europe, he saw the creation of an independent homeland for the homeless Jewish people as, first and foremost, a crucial provision for the survival of persecuted Jews.” Further, Ben-Gurion always wanted Israel to become a ‘Light unto the Nations,’ an exemplary polity abiding by the highest moral standards.”
  2. Strategy—Ben-Gurion had a strategy to accomplish his vision. “Throughout the tragic years from 1936 to 1947, while millions of Jews were rounded up and murdered by the Germans, denied asylum by almost all nations and barred by the British from finding a home in Palestine, he subtly orchestrated a complex strategy: he inspired tens of thousands of young Jews from Palestine to join the British army in fighting the Nazis, but at the same time authorized an underground agency to ship Jewish refugees into the country…This strategy helped bring about the favorable atmosphere that led to the 1947 U.N. resolution, partitioning Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.”
  3. Determination—Ben-Gurion was determined to execute his strategy. “Ben-Gurion's iron-will leadership during the fateful 1 1/2 years of that touch-and-go war [after 1948] turned him from ‘first among equals’ in the Zionist leadership into a modern-day King David.”
  4. Leadership—Ben-Gurion was a true leader. “The crux of his leadership was a lifelong, partly successful struggle to transplant a tradition of binding majority rule in a painfully divided Jewish society that for thousands of years had not experienced any form of self-rule, not even a central spiritual authority. In the early years of the state, many Israelis saw him as a combination of Moses, George Washington, [and] Garibaldi.”
(adapted from

To me, David Ben-Gurion is a hero who led the Jewish people on a road toward survival and statehood at its darkest hour in history. From the ashes of 6 million Jews murdered in the holocaust, David Ben-Gurion, like Moses, led the people from near total annihilation to rebirth in the promised land.

As an enterprise architect, I can only marvel and be utterly inspired by the building blocks of vision, strategy, determination and leadership that made David Ben-Gurion the “great architect and builder” honored by Time Magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th century.


September 26, 2007

When Information Sharing Becomes Destructive

This week Columbia University hosted a true demagogue to speak.

The Wall Street Journal 25 September 2007 states in the editorial “Columbia’s Conceit” that the the acting dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, not only defended having this horrific demagogue speak to the students of Columbia University, but he remarked that “if Hitler were in the United States and…if he were willing to engage in a debate and discussion to be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly invite him.”

I assume even Osama Bin Laden would be welcome to discuss his views on killing 3000 Americans on 9-11. Free and open debate of ideas, right?

How unbelievably low Columbia University has sunk!

I grew up on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, and I fondly remember as a child taking many wonderful strolls through the the Columbia University campus. With its magnificant buildings, monuments, landscaping, and courtyards, I walked with awe and amazement up and down the paths of what I then believed to be a noble and prestigious higher learning institution.

With utter shock and dismay, I watched this week as this world demagogue and grand enemy of the United States and Israel was welcomed to Columbia and given a platform and opportunity to share his hatred and distort the truth about the nature of this country, Zionism, and even the horrific events of the Holocaust.

Columbia’s president stated “Columbia, as a community dedicated to learning and scholarship, is committed to confronting ideas.”

Well, when does confronting ideas and sharing information go from constructive to destructive? Is there a point, when allowing anyone to say anything they want, even if it is full of hatred and lies, goes beyond the point of rational ‘debate and discussion’?

I am not a lawyer, but even in this great and free country, we do not allow someone to yell fire in a crowded theatre. Nor, do we allow people to incite others to violence. There are limits to free speech and the sharing of baseless hatred and distorting the truth. In fact, our justice system is supposed to be dedicated to truth and our vast news reporting to keeping the public duly informed.

I understand now that Columbia University has agreed to invite the devil himself to speak to its students and faculty (for lively debate and discussion). The only condition placed on the devil is that he leave his pitchfork outside the campus limits. Apparently, Columbia University has not only invited the devil, but has decided to sell their soul to him as well.

So much for the great and noble institution of higher learning that a little boy once looked upon and marveled at.

As a professional enterprise architect, I believe that there are a couple of lessons here:

  • In building the architecture and plans for the enterprise, full and open debate and vetting of ideas is not only encouraged, but absolutely necessary to get the best product. However, when constructive debate turns to venting, naysaying, personal insults, and destructive criticism, then the time for debate is over.
  • The enterprise architecture is a knowledge base for the organization, and it is the role of the architects in conjunction with leadership, stakeholders, and end users to ensure that the knowledge base has integrity. Bad data just enables bad decision-making.


Take Care of Your Employees and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric EA is focused on the users, but also on the employees in the organization.

In Fortune Magazine, 3 September 2007, Kip Tendell the CEO of the super successful Container Store states “Put Employees Before Customers: If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of the customers—and that will take care of the shareholders. To myopically focus on the shareholders is wrong. So we invest heavily in our employees.”

Applying this to the government is somewhat different than the private sector for a few reasons:

  • Citizens versus customers: We don’t have customers in the traditional sense of people purchasing goods or services, but we do have our citizens whom we serve by delivering services that they pay for through taxes.
  • Stakeholders versus shareholders: We don’t have shareholders to be concerned about, but we do have plenty of stakeholders, including lots of oversight from the Department (to which the agency reports), the Inspector General, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the General Accounting Office (GAO), The Hill, the media, and so on.
  • Essential services: The nature of the services being provided are of a different caliber than most in the private sector (this is not a put down to the private sector—in fact, I came to the government from the financial services industry). The services that the government provides such as law enforcement, defense readiness, consumer safety, health management, social services, and so on are absolutely critical to the functioning of an orderly society.

Based on these differences between public and private sectors, I do not think that government can afford to put employees before citizens (given the critical nature of the services provided to all of us). However, I do believe that treating employees well is a prerequisite to them providing good service and to meeting performance objectives and achieving mission execution.

Let’s face it, people respond better to honey than to vinegar. Institute market based pay, a culture of merit, pay for performance, and in general treat employees fairly and with respect, and they will deliver for the citizens of this country.

Every EA plan should include goals, objectives, and strategies that promote the employee, since they are the enterprise’s most critical asset in achieving the mission.


Sigmund Freud and Enterprise Architecture

“Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind.”

Freud is probably one of the best known and most influential psychiatrists of all time.

What are some of Freud’s major contributions to understanding human behavior?

  1. Unconscious mind—Perhaps the most significant contribution Freud made to Western thought was his argument for the existence of an unconscious mindhe proposed that awareness existed in layers and that some thoughts occurred "below the surface.
  2. Id, Ego, and Superego—Sigmund Freud's "structural theory” introduced new terms to describe the division between the conscious and unconscious: 'id,' 'ego,' and 'super-ego.' The “id” (fully unconscious) contains the drives and those things repressed by consciousness—it is dominated by the pleasure principle; the “ego” (mostly conscious) deals with external reality—its task is to find a balance between primitive drives, morals, and reality; and the “super ego” (partly conscious) is the conscience or the internal moral judge.
  3. Psychoanalysis—Freud is the father of psychoanalysis (free association), is which the analyst upon hearing the thoughts of the patient, formulates and then explains the unconscious bases for the patient's symptoms and character problems. Through the analysis of resistance (unconscious barriers to treatment often referred to as defense mechanisms) and transference unto the analyst, expectations, wishes and emotions, from prior unresolved conflicts is often unearthed, and can be quite helpful to the patient. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

How can Freud’s contributions help us be better enterprise architects?

  • Developing a deeper understanding of stakeholders—Understanding that leaders, subject matter experts, end-users, and other stakeholders don’t always communicate what’s on their mind or even know fully what’s on their mind (because some of it is in the unconscious), can help us as architects to dig longer and deeper to work with, question, and seek to understand our stakeholders and their requirements. Very often open-ended questions (or free association) works best to let user get to what they truly want to communicate, while at other times closed-ended type questions may get more quickly to the facts that are needed.
  • Not everything the users want is for the ultimate good of the organization—While most users have the very best intentions at heart, there is a component in all of us called the id, that are unconscious desires driven by the pleasure principle. “The id is the primal, or beast-like, part of the brain…the prime motive of the id is self-survival, pursuing whatever necessary to accomplish that goal.” The id can drive some users to pursue “requirements” that are good for their own selves, careers, ego, or training goals, but may not be ‘right’ for the enterprise. For example, some users may want to purchase a technology that “they know” (or are familiar with) or that will make their functions or departments more important or powerful in the organization, or to show “what they can do”. While this is not the rule, I think we can all probably relate experiences at work to this. (Thank G-d for Investment Review Board and EA Boards to catch some of these and put them back in their boxes.)
  • People are resistant to change and have all sorts of defense mechansims that can impede progress—“When anxiety [between the selfish id and moral superego] becomes too overwhelming it is then the place of the ego to employ defense mechanisms to protect the individual” However, while mechanisms such as denial, repression, rationalization, and so on can help protect the person, they often hinder progress at the organizational-level. Just because a person can’t get what they want (technology toys, resources, turf, prestige…), they “act out” to protect their own self interest and thereby also impede the organization. As architects, we are not psychoanalysts nor psychiatrists, so we can not resolve people’s underlying internal battles or unfilled desires. But what we can do is recognize and call attention to these mechanisms and their impact, and work to focus the architecture on the good of the organization versus the good of any particular stakeholder.


September 25, 2007

Corporate Culture and Enterprise Architecture

Organizational or corporate culture is “the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization. Organizational values are beliefs and ideas about what kinds of goals members of an organization should pursue and ideas about the appropriate kinds or standards of behavior organizational members should use to achieve these goals. From organizational values develop organizational norms, guidelines or expectations that prescribe appropriate kinds of behavior by employees in particular situations and control the behavior of organizational members towards one another” (Wikipedia).

The Wall Street Journal, 13 August 2007, states that “New leaders typically reshape their senior executive team and the company’s growth strategies. The most wrenching adjustment occurs when a CEO changes the corporate culture—the core values and ways of doing things that bind people to their jobs…yet few CEO’s take the time to learn about the culture they inherited. They need to understand both the traditional purpose of a company and it’s philosophy—or why, precisely, employees feel the work they do is important, and how they believe their approach distinguishes them from others.” If changing culture is necessary, then the CEO needs to explain this to the employees, so that work quality and productivity does not suffer.

As enterprise architects, we can learn from the mistakes of others (even CEOs) in not understanding or respecting the culture of the organizations they serve. User-centric EA needs to respect the organizational culture in developing the target, transition plan, and strategy. The chief enterprise architect needs to learn and understand the values, norms, guidelines, and expectation that prescribe behavior in the enterprise if they wish to stand any chance of successfully shaping the future of the organization. This can be done by the chief enterprise architect spending time with and talking to “the troops.”

Enterprise architecture can not be successful as an ivory-tower exercise. All too often, however, it is done like an academic or textbook endeavor rather than as a genuine
attempt to understand both internal and external drivers for change. (At the same time, the reality is that the function of enterprise architecture is usually short on resources and cannot achieve its potential as it would if it were fully funded and resourced.) It is imperative that organizations provide adequate resources, so the architects can go and visit frontline employees and leadership across the organization to learn the culture, the functions, requirements, and pain points. Translating this information into future plans and strategies for the organization will then be much more meaningful and effective.

September 24, 2007

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Application Development and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 24 September 2007 reports that “new [DIY] tools let businesspeople avoid the IT department and create their own computer applications…and no knowledge of computer code is required.

How does this benefit users?

  • “Users say they are saving time and money by creating their own applications”
  • They “are able to build exactly what they want, without having to explain what their looking for to someone else.”
  • “Others like being able to wite programs that would have been too minor or personalized to bother the IT department with.”
  • “Adjusting DIY programs…can also be simpler than asking the IT department for program tweaks or updates.”

What are the downsides?

  • “There is some risk in the lack of a track recod for such companies [offering these DIY services], and in the possibility that a provider will fail, leaving its customers without access to the applications they developed online.”
  • “Some businesspeople may underestimate the effort required to write their own programs.”

Strangely enough, the article leaves out some of the biggest gaps with DIY application development, such as:

  • Approval by the organization’s IT governance to ensure that the ‘right’ projects are authorized, prioritized, funded and monitored for cost, schedule, and performance.
  • Compliance with an organization’s enterprise architecture to ensure such things as: business alignment, application interoperability and non-redundancy, technology standardization, information sharing, and strategic alignment to the target architecture and transition plan.
  • Assuring IT security of applications systems, including confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy.
  • Following a defined, repeatable, and measurable structured systems development life cycle (SDLC) approach to application development.

The WSJ article actually compares DIY application development to when businesspeople learned to create their own PowerPoints presentation rather than having to run to the graphics departments to build these for them.

While there may be a place for DIY application development for small user apps (similar to creating their own databases and presentations), from a User-centric EA perspective, we must be careful not to hurt the enterprise, in our efforts to empower the end-users. A balanced and thoughful approach is called for to meet user requirements (cost effectively and quickly), but at the same time protect enterprise assets, meet strategic goals, and assure overall governance of IT investments.


Effective Teams and Enterprise Architecture

In User-centric EA, not only is human capital (individuals) important to the organization’s growth and development, but also groups or teams of people are vital to getting the most difficult of jobs done.

The Wall Street Journal, 13 August 2007, states that the CEO of ICU Medical Inc. “had an epiphany watching his son play hockey. The opposing team had a star, but his son’s team ganged up on him and won.” The lesson for the CEO was that “the team was better than one player.” The CEO used this lesson about the importance and strength of teams encourage teaming in his organization, and in general to delegate better to his employees, and getting their input on decisions

While EA is a program often associated with and reporting to the Chief Information Officer, and is thus considered somewhat technical in nature, a large part of architecting the enterprise is understanding and believing in the importance of people—individuals and teams—to getting the job done and getting it done right.

Moreover, teams can accomplish what individuals cannot. There is strength in numbers. Like the CEO of ICU Medical learned, a great player can be overcome by even a mediocre team.

September 23, 2007

On Demand Software and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 19 September 2007 reported that SAP, the German technology giant (and world’s largest business software company—especially known for its enterprise resource planning software), will be offering on demand software to help capture more business among faster growing small and medium size firms. The advantage of this internet based appplication service model is that smaller companies who don’t have the money to purchase the otherwise pricey software, can now purchase on a pay as you go subscription service model.

Interestingly, the WSJ article does not identify this model as an application service provider (ASP), which is a business that provides computer-based services to customers over a wide area network, even though this is exactly what it is!

In general, there are a number of benefits touted to a organization using ASP services, and these are:

  • The ASP service provider owns, operates, and mainains the software and servers.
  • The ASP service provider adheres to service level agreement for availability, accessibility, and security.
  • The ASP provider ensures regular updates to the application software
  • Costs are spread on a pay as you go basis.

However on the downside, using ASP model limits (or excludes) your ability as a customer to customize the software or to integrate it with other non-ASP systems. Additionally, the customer organization may experience a general sense of loss of control by “outsourcing” the application, underlying technology infrastructure, and data store to an outside vendor.

ASP were a big deal around the turn of the 21st century when “the ASP Industry Consortium was formed in May 1999 by 25 leading technology companies. Founding companies included AT&T Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., GTE Corp., IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., and UUNET Technologies.” (adapted from

For some reason, ASP seems to have become a “dirty word”. Even the latest market estimates for ASPs in Wikipedia dates back to 2003. Also, a quick Google search for applications service providers brings up a lot of information dated between 1999-2003. Even the current website looks like crap. Apparently ASPs have all but fallen off the map in the last 4 years!

From a User-centric EA standpoint, the (ASP) model for on demand software is an option that should be carefully considered, based on the pros and cons for your particular organization, in developing target architecture for the enterprise. Indeed, many applications (like SAP) are being deployed using the ASP web application model, and we can expect this service to grow as an option, whether or not it is called an ASP in the future. Hey, maybe that’s what happened to A-S-P – it got transposed to S-A-P!


September 22, 2007

Jonah and Enterprise Architecture

There was an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal, 19 September 2007 about the Book of Jonah (that we read on Yom Kippur). Jonah was commanded by G-d to exhort the people of the city of Ninveh to repent or face G-d’s wrath. But Jonah flees and we all know what happens with him and the whale.

Jonah was concerned that he was in a catch 22. On one hand, if he warns the people of Ninveh and they repented and nothing happened (i.e. they were spared), then they would “assail Jonah for forcing them to make needless sacrifies.” On the other hand, if Ninveh did not repent and was destroyed, the Jonah would be a failed Prophet. (Yes, I know Jonah should’ve had faith that everything would be okay.)

Jonah’s dilema is repeated throughout history. During crisis, leaders frequently encounter this catch 22—no win dilema.

  • “Winston Churchhill, for example, prophetically warned of the Nazi threat in he 1930’s, but if he had convinced his countrymen to strike Germany pre-emptively, woul dhe have been hailed for preventing WWII or condemned for initiating an unnecessary conflict?”
  • Similarly, “Harry Truman predicted that Japan would never surrender and that a quarter of a million GIs would be killed…and so he obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki only to be vilified by many historians.”
  • This type of denounciation, for prevening an unknown, is what President Bush is experiencing for invading Iraq after 9/11 to stave off another terrorist attack in the United States.

What’s the leadership lesson here?

“This is the tragedy of leadership…policy makers must decide between costly actions and inaction…they will be reproved for the actions they take to forestall a catastrophe, but may receive no credit for averting cataclysm that never occur.”

In User-centric EA, like in all planning endeavors, we face a similar crisis of leadership. EA develops the enterprise’s target and transition plan, yet whatever actions (or inactions) that the target state and plan take, the architects are wide open for criticism.

  • If their planning in any way helps avert a future corporate crisis, no one will recognize them for some unknown that did not occur.
  • And if the plans in any way misses the mark (and no plan is perfect), then the architects are villified for the “errors of their ways”.
  • Finally, even with the best laid plans, who can definitely make the causal relationship between the plan and results.

So, architects, like Jonah, are in tough spot—hopefully, we don’t get swallowed by the whale of nay-sayers and critics. Of course, its always easier to criticize than to be constructive.


Can Information Sharing Cure Cancer?

How powerful is the concept of information sharing—can information sharing even cure cancer?

The Wall Street Journal, 18 September 2007 reports that two hedge fund managers have “agreed to put up $1 million of their own money every year to fund the Gotham Prize for Cancer Research…the prize will go to the person who posts the best new cancer-research idea…the winner of the Gotham prize doesn’t have to present a shred of evidence that the premise will work. To attract ideas from people outside the field of cancer research, there is no requirement that the winner be capable of seeing the idea through. And the prize money is earmarked for personal use.”

These “efforts are focused on overcoming the reluctance to share ideas,” since there is “a culture that discouraged the sharing of promising ideas. If you have a great idea, but someone else publishes first, you get no credit, professionally or financially…and ‘ideas are currency.’”

Additionally, “getting grants…forces people to do somewhat mundane experiments that follow up on other experiments rather than thinking creatively.”

The Gotham Prize site for cancer fighting ideas “will serve as a kind of marketplace of ideas,” so we can beat cancer with new ideas either never thought of or shared before.

Wow, this is truly amazing! The notion of people sharing information across the globe to defeat cancer. Think about it. Rather, than hoarding information for financial or professional gain, people share information to overcome one of the biggest scourges of our time.

And cancer is just one disease (although a horrific one), what if this was applied to defeating them all! And to other problems facing humanity. War, terrorism, famine, poverty, pollution, energy resources, and so on. Aren’t we better off pooling information, talent, and the power of numbers rather than hoarding information for self interest?

Yes, I know capitalism and market competition is a great motivator for moving things forward. But what if like with the Gotham Prize, we adopt the power of self interest and apply it to sharing ideas—rather than hoarding ideas—to improve life for everyone.

In User-centric EA is one way to drive information sharing in the enterprise. A core principle of User-centric EA is information sharing and accessibility. EA’s notion of information sharing includes creating a common lexicon, describing the data (metadata), registering the data so that it is discoverable, and enabling the exchange of information when and where people need it.

But it’s tough to get people to share information, since “information is power” and “information is currency”, but let’s turn the standard model on its head and create incentives for people to share and disincentives to hoard—then the world may be a better place for all of us!


September 21, 2007

Murphy’s Law and Enterprise Architecture

Murphy's law is an adage in Western culture that broadly states that things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance...It is most often cited as "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" (or, alternately, "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way”)...The saying is sometimes referred to as Sod's law or Finagle's law which can also be rendered as "Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment". (adapted from Wikipedia)

Well Murphy’s Law is pretty pessimistic and ominous, but I guess for those of us who are old enough to have lived through some of life’s up’s and down’s (and Murphy’s Law would probably say they’re mostly downs), then the adage is not only meaningful, but also a cautionary tale for how we conduct ourselves.

No, It’s not about being paranoid or schizoid or any of those things.

But probably more a big “WATCH OUT!” or “KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN!” sign plastered along the bumpy, curvy road of life.

One of my old pals has a spin of Murphy’s Law (although I don’t think he see it quite that way) that goes like this: “Man plans and G-d laughs.”

As a manager, I see Murphy’s Law as part of good program and project management. It’s about planning, planning, and more planning (sustained and determined), with plenty of risk management built in as you execute and deliver to the customer on behalf of the enterprise.

But even with planning and risk management, you can never cover every eventuality. What you can do is try to prevent or avoid certain risks, mitigate others, and accept the ones you can’t avoid or mitigate. Pretty much, simple as that.

User-centric EA is a process for the enterprise to plan and manage risk—all those inherent in Murphy’s Law. EA does this by formulating, documenting and communicating where the organization is at, where it is headed, and how it is going to try and get there. Furher, it vets these plans with leaderhip and subject matter experts, builds consensus, and drives positive, incremental change. EA helps the organization adapt to changes internally and externally. EA is a bulwark against the law of “anything that can go wrong, will.”

September 20, 2007

Microsoft and Enterprise Architecture

Microsoft—with 79,000 employees in 102 countries and global annual revenue of $51.12 billion as of 2007—is the company every consumer loves and hates.

On one hand, Microsoft’s products have transformed the way we use the computer (yeah, I know Apple got there first, but it’s the Microsoft products that we actually use day-to-day). Everything from the Microsoft operating system, office suite, web browser, media player, and so on has made computers understandable, and useable by millions, if not billions of people around the world. The positive impact (excluding the security flaws and pricing) has drastically made our lives better!

On the other hand, Microsoft is a “near-monopoly” with estimated 90%+ market share for Office and Windows O/S. Near-monopolies, like Microsoft are feared to stifle competition, reduce innovation and consumer choice, and drive up prices.

Microsoft has been convicted by the European Commission of having “improperly bundled a media player with its Windows operating system and denied competitors information needed to make their computers work with Microsoft software…fines and penalties could reach…$2.77 billion. “EU officials praised the decision…for protecting consumers.” While “Microsoft backers said, the ruling will stifle innovation by making it tougher to design products with new features.” Additionally, “the EU is reviewing complaints about Microsoft’s Office Software and concerns over how Microsoft bundled encryption and other features in its new Vista operating system.” (Wall Street Journal, 18 September 2007)

From a User-centric EA perspective, there is a similar love-hate relationship with Microsoft. As
architects, we believe and preach standardization, consolidation, interoperability, and integration—all things that Microsoft’s array of products help us achieve ‘relatively’ easily (imagine, if instead of an integrated Office Suite, as well as mail, calendar, task list, and underlying operating system, we had to use an array of non-integrated products-yikes!). However, also as architects, we look to be able acquire innovative technology solutions for our organizations that will help us achieve superior mission performance, and to acquire products at prices that produce the best value for the enterprise—to achieve that we need a marketplace based on healthy competition that drives innovation and price competition.

So we love and need Microsoft, but we fear and loathe the ramifications of such market dominance.


September 19, 2007

Leetspeak and Enterprise Architecture

Leetspeak is the new online language of the internet world, where words are misspelled (based on striking neighboring letters to the correct one) or symbols or numbers substitute for similar-looking alphabetical letters. So for example, leetspeak could be written as 133t 5p34k.

The Wall Street Journal, 23 August 2007 reports that “leetspeak stemmed partly from wanting to find faster ways to express themselves online. As with other forms of jargon, it also enhanced a sense of belonging to a community.”

Leetspeak, as the new lexicon for the hip and cool of the internet generation, represents a way of communication faster and expressing oneself better (although many would say this is actually worse) in the sense that you do not limit yourself by grammar, capitalization, or punctuation.

In User-centric EA, lexicon is a critical component of developing an enterprise architecture. The basis for information discovery, exchange, and overall sharing is that there is a common lexicon that we use with common definitions and standards for usage. Metadata (or data about data) helps us develop these standards to facilitate information architecture. So while leetspeak is cool and maybe convenient, I think even some of our super computers may have a hard time deciphering it.

So do you think there a place in EA for leetspeak?


Competitive Advantage and Enterprise Architecture

Competitive Advantage—“When a firm sustains profits that exceed the average for its industry, the firm is said to posses a competitive advantage over its rivals. The goal of much of business strategy is to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.”

“Michael Porter identified two basic types of competitive advantage:

  • Cost advantage
  • Differentiation advantage”

“A competitive advantage exists when the firm is able to deliver the same benefits as competitors but at a lower cost (cost advantage), or deliver benefits that exceed those of competing products (differentiating advantage). Thus, a competitive advantage enables the firm to create superior value for its customers and superior profits for itself.”

Cost and differentiation advantages are known as positional advantages since they describe the firm’s position in the industry as a leader in either cost or differentiation.” (

In User-centric EA, the target state and transition plan in a for-profit, private sector company should be one that develops competitive advantage for the organization and thereby superior profitability. This is done either through business process reengineering/improvement or through technological differentiation. In technological differentiation, information technology solutions are adopted that align to business needs and help it to create either cost or differentiation advantage. IT is used to create cost efficiencies through automation or to developing differentiation advantage through the development of products that are more technologically advanced than its competitors. In essence, the organization employs cutting-edge technology to leap over its competitors in terms of cost or product.

In not-for-profit organizations or government, EA target state and transition plan does not set the stage for competitive advantage in terms of delivering superior profits, but rather in terms of delivering superior value to its stakeholders. Again, either business process or technology enhancements can help the enterprise develop the superior value. Additionally, there is not the same notion (if any) of competition (i.e. so ‘competitive advantage’ should really be more just ‘advantage’—to the enterprise and stakeholders—without the ‘competitive’ in it).

In any case, competitive advantage in terms of continuous improvement vis-a-vis efficiency and effectiveness of mission execution, and performing better, faster, and cheaper on behalf of stakeholders is the end game.


September 18, 2007

Performance Metrics and Enterprise Architecture

In User-centric EA, we are focused on delivering value to the end-user, and to do this we measure and track our performance results to ensure that we are meeting EA program and end-user goals.

In general, you can’t manage, what you don’t measure.

In User-centric EA, we measure both program and product metrics.

  • Program metrics—measures of the major program areas in EA; these include development, maintenance, and use of architecture products and governance services. Examples of program measures includes: information products developed per time period, total information products under maintenance (‘the maintenance burden’), and under usage—EA system reviews conducted at the agency, Product and Standard reviews conducted at the agency, end-user information requests fulfilled, departmental decision requests supported, external data call responded to, EA website hits, and so on.
  • Product metrics—measures of the amount of data (functions, information objects, systems, technologies, etc.) and their attributes in the EA products and repository; this is used to understand that breadth and depth of the architecture information being provided to end-users and to ensure that it is the ‘right’ information in terms of its scope to enhance decision-making. Additionally, the product measures help understand the general complexity of the information areas, and the challenge of maintaining them and keeping them relevant in terms of currency, accuracy, and completeness.
One of the perspectives or views of information in the EA is performance measures for the enterprise. EA is not only the repository for those corporate measures, but EA itself develops and uses performance measures to ensure that it is meeting enterprise goals and end-user requirements.

September 17, 2007

Organizational Awareness and Enterprise Architecture

In User-centric EA, we are focused on the end-user and that means that we are not only aware of the needs of the end-users, but that we are organizationally aware as well. This situational awareness includes an understanding of the actors as well the formal and informal structures they play in and the influence they wield.

The Wall Street Journal, 21 August 2007 reports that “one of the competencies in every study of outstanding leaders is their degree of organizational awareness—reading the informal networks, like influence in the organization.…misreading the choke points, sources of influence, or all of those whose rings need kissing, can spell disaster.”

The chief enterprise architect is responsible for identifying the baseline and establishing the target and transition plan. Setting targets and establishing transition strategies that will really be adopted by the organization (and hence really work) requires a keen sense of the organization, the stakeholders, and the networks (formal and informal).

You can't just plop a plan down and say “here it is, follow it!” Instead, the plans and strategies must truly reflect the people of the organization, their needs and requirements, and be accepted by its power brokers at all levels.


September 16, 2007

Stretching Leadership to the Limits and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 13 September 2007 reports as follows: “This has been a tough year for Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. Accustomed to accolades for his bold approach to corporate turnarounds, Mr. Ghosn of late has endured criticism for slumping profits at both companies, sliding U.S. sales at Nissan, and persistent doubts that even a man of his prodigious energy can run two sprawling auto companies.”
From a User-centric EA approach, we are always looking for opportunities to fill gaps, reduce redundancies, improve processes, and fulfill user requirements. Often mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are viewed by the financial markets as an excellent way to accomplish one or more of these—as we often see the stocks of companies rise after an M&A announcement. Why does this happen? Because the two companies together form a kind of new target architecture that creates synergy as follows:
  • Filling in each other’s gaps (they complement each other)
  • Allowing them to consolidate operations and reduce overhead (where they overlap)
  • Using the best engineering prowess from each to improve processes
  • Better meeting customer requirements with a broader product set and greater customer reach.
Does a leader that spans across two companies, like Carlos Ghosn produce similar results like in M&A or are we simply stretching the ability of a leader beyond human means?
The answer is yes and yes. While the two companies have seen benefits from having the same leader for example, “Noting recent moves by Nissan and Renault to jointly develop engines and to expand car production in merging markets, Mr. Ghosn added, ‘all these synergies are facilitated by having a common CEO.’” On the other hand, “some industry analysts have questioned his decision to try and lead two car companies simultaneously.”
Like a rubber band holding these two car companies together, the question is will the rubber band hold and see the companies through to achieve the benefits of some degree of M&A or will the rubber band break because of the strains of leadership going too far.


A Real-Life Example of Enterprise Architecture at Work

The Wall Street Journal, 13 September 2007 reports that “the House and Senate are working on legislation that over the next seven years would phase out the conventional light bulb, a move aimed at saving energy and reducing man-made emissions believe linked to climate change.”

“The U.S. which has four billion electric lights using such bulbs, represents about a third of the world market. Installing more-efficient incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs would save abut $6 billion a year in energy costs.”

“General Electric Co., and Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands and other manufactures have been meeting with conservation and environmental groups and say they are close to agreement on the general terms of a phaseout.”

“GE and the other two big light bulb makers, Philips and Osram Sylvania, also are looking at light emitting diodes, or LEDS as new sources of residential lighting. ‘We’ll fill in any gaps with other technologies’ says Earl Jones, says senior counsel for GE’s consumer-and-industrial unit.”

I read this and thought what great example of User-centric EA at work:

  • The baseline architecture is the incandescent bulb.
  • The user requirement is for more energy efficient and lower polluting electric lighting.
  • The target architecture is to go to more-efficient incandescent or fluorescent bulbs.
  • The transition plan is to phase in to phase in the new and phase out the old over the next seven years.
  • Our partners and stakeholders are working together to make it happen.
  • Future needs are being addressed through the development and evaluation of new technologies beyond the said target (i.e. EA is a cycle of baseline, target, and transition which is ongoing).

Now that’s the way to do User-centric EA!


September 15, 2007

SOA – Does the Emperor Have Clothes?

Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 3 Issue 3, reports that one of the Top 10 Challenges in Enterprise Architecture is “Getting Ready for Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)”.

- Why is SOA proving to be such a challenge?

The article reports that “most architects have not done much of either substance or significance in this area.” Further, “most of what enterprise architects have addressed in this space concerns aligning IT with the business and governance”—and this is something that EA has been doing all along anyway.

- So what has SOA changed?

“What has changed is the promise of abstracting services that can be reused.”

However, some have questioned SOA:

  1. Is SOA “just a revival of modular programming (1970s), event-oriented design (1980s), or interface/component-based design (1990s)”?
  2. Is SOA “just another term for Web Services”?
  3. Is SOA “merely an obvious evolution of currently well-deployed architecture (open interfaces, etc.)”? (Wikipedia)

Others have questioned if SOA and EA are even distinct disciplines?

“So, has SOA in fact evolved into EA? A to question to which the answer is yes and no." The author continues, “essentially there are three evolutionary paths:

  1. EA is absorbed by SOA
  2. SOA is absorbed by EA
  3. EA / SOA merge into a new concept”

Finally, the authors propose #3 merging EA and SOA as follows:


With the conclusion that “in order to create this holistic view EA and SOA must not be seen as separate disciplines, but to see the two as one will bring changes on such a scale that we are now talking about SOEA Service Oriented Enterprise Architecture.” (Journal of Enterprise Architecture, August 2007, Rasmus Knippel and Bo Skytte)

While the authors apparently seems to think SOA is important (although they call it "increasingly more abstract"), the relationship to EA is changing and unclear—Not sure this idea about SOEA is helpful at this juncture!

- How helpful to SOA development is the guidance from the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA), Service Reference Model (SRM), which talks about services and capabilities?

Not very! The SRM is supposed to “provide a high-level view of the services and capabilities that support enterprise and organizational process and applications.” (FEA, SRM). However, the service domains, service types, and capabilities listed in the FEA SRM are quite muddy, at best. Here is an example:

  • The domain of Process Automation is defined as “the set of capabilities that support the automation of process” [hasn’t every 5th grader been taught not to define a term with the same term?]
  • And it continues “and management that assists in effectively managing the business” [well that is a pretty broad definition— can’t all services assist in effectively managing the business?].
  • Then after the definition, you’re expecting some pretty extensive process automation services, but the SRM lists just 2 components:
  1. Tracking and Workflow (which includes capabilities like case management [what’s that doing here?] and conflict resolution [isn’t that a leadership skill set?])
  2. Routing and Scheduling, which includes just Inbound and Outbound Correspondence Management [so where the scheduling piece like calendaring or time management that one normally associates with scheduling and how does the routing as in Routing and Scheduling reflect the routing inherent in Tracking and Workflow category above—seems like some category overlap]

I’ll let you look at the SRM yourself to see evaluate the clarity of the other categories, but they are pretty much the same. Ok, I can’t resist, here’s one more:

  • The domain called Business Management Services, after the domain of Process Automation, actually has a service type in it called management of process {why isn’t this in the process automation domain?].
  • The other service types in this domain include Organizational Management [that includes workgroup/groupware and network management, huh?]
  • And Investment Management [ok]
  • And Supply Chain Management [which includes things like procurement, Warehousing, and Inventory Management— so why isn’t this part of back office services, like Finance, Human Capital, and Asset/Material Management?]

If this looks confusing, you’ve got my point, it’s because the FEA SRM is confusing.

- So what’s an enterprise architect to do?

Architecture and Governance Magazine says, enterprise architects need to take back the high ground here—and that must be done in 2007…today’s enterprise architect must re-engage with all the principals in the enterprise by making a case for seeing service and technology architectures as one.”— this is good advice, I suppose, but also more than a little vague!

I’ve seen a bunch of presentations (including a recent one from Department of Education) where EA has tied IT services (pretty much their IT portfolio) to requested business capabilities—again it seems pretty much like what EA is or should have been doing all along, aligning business and technology investments with a focus on reducing gaps, redundancies, and inefficiencies.

I’ve seen other people including some prominent computer and consulting vendors present this topic as well, and aside from pushing there wares, have seen them fall all over themselves tying to define and explain SOA. Honestly, it was pathetic!

Finally, I have seen one impressive implementation at a government agency, and it did actually have savings associated with it, but the application was done a few years back, was relatively small, and there has been little to no movement on further SOA development since (except for the purchase of an enterprise service bus) even though there is a mandate in this agency to implement SOA.

In fact, at a recent meeting with the business side from operations, the presenters said that they were going to spend oodles of money rewriting one (if not the) major operational application for the agency (over 1.2 million lines of code and growing) to make it .NET compliant. I asked the business if they were going to take this opportunity to do this using SOA, and they said no, they just want the same functionality as before!

So in the end, if the business doesn’t want it and the vendors and consultants can’t explain it, the final question with SOA is does the emperor really have clothes?