Welcome to the sixth anniversary edition of my Enterprise Architect’s “New Year’s Resolutions.” I hope this article will give you food for thought and some inspiration for architectural growth in 2011.
Learn About Business Architecture
Many advances in architecture have occurred over the past few years, but one of the most rapidly advancing aspects has been business architecture. This has come from several areas. EA teams have expanded their capabilities in business architecture. Business organizations have experienced the value of an architectural approach to defining the business (analytic, focused, formal, specific, unambiguous). Finally, business architects have been pushing the envelope, illustrated by the growth in business architecture working groups and industry organizations. Business architecture is much more than just BPM, and one of the most promising aspects is the area of business capabilities, which enterprise architects will want to use as a critical tool for portfolio planning and alignment. If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to start learning about this promising area of architecture.
Embrace Systems Thinking
Architecture, and enterprises architecture in particular, is about systems, or systems of systems, continual change, system dynamics, and organizational dynamics (to name just a few). The field of study related to these topics is called systems thinking. We sometime shrug off looking into this in detail with explanations such as “it means everything is connected.” While this is true, it is an oversimplification of an extremely complex and interesting area of thought and research. As I’ve studied and learned more about systems thinking over the past few years, I’ve found it to be increasingly relevant to the job of an enterprise architect. I recommend that you spend some time looking into it.
Understand Architectural Views
One of the keys to architectural value is the successful identification, design, and development of architectural views. This involves understanding the goals that architecture is expected to deliver, who or what must be influenced to achieve them, what the leverage points are in the relevant processes, and what form of architectural deliverable will provide the appropriate influence at those leverage points to achieve the desired architectural goals. Resolve to understand the art of designing architectural views.
Update Your Knowledge of Frameworks
All of the principle enterprise architecture frameworks have received major updates in the past year or two. The Zachman framework was updated to version two with better naming and formally defined metamodels. TOGAF was updated to version 9.0, including new guidelines and techniques for the ADM, a content framework, and an enterprise capability framework. DoDAF was updated to version 2, doubling the number of defined deliverables to 57. Although I personally don’t strictly follow any single framework, I find that all have something to offer. 2011 is time to update your knowledge of these important architectural bodies of knowledge so that you can apply the applicable parts to your organization.
Get Your Hands Dirty
Cutter Senior Consultants Jeroen van Tyn likes to say, “All architecture is local.” That’s another version of my statement about architectural value: “Developing architecture doesn’t produce value. It’s only when architecture is applied that value is delivered.” In other words, find some project that you can assist with, either formally or informally, and get your hands dirty helping the project to apply architecture. You’ll not only provide value and win friends, but also update your skills at the same time.
Well that’s it for 2011. Of course, you don’t need to make these official resolutions, but they do provide some useful ideas about practicing enterprise architecture. And while you’re thinking about it, have a happy, successful and prosperous 2011.