Did We Forget about Adaptive EA?

Lately, I have been wondering in my dealings with clients, prospects and online forums if we have forgotten this most basic, but important goal of EA – adaptability – the ability to accommodate change quickly and easily.  Complexity and the rate of change continue to increase, but the focus of many EA groups seems to be more focused on accommodating particular focus areas – major projects or business areas.  While much of this is because we are in a more tactical arc of the pendulum swing right now due to the economy and resource constraints, it is important to maintain a focus on enabling change while we work on specific domains or initiatives at the sub-enterprise level.

There are two elements that are crucial to an organization creating and maintaining an adaptive environment – standards and governance.  Standards provide a common place to start – whether they be infrastructure standards like standard vendors and products for hardware and middleware; or application standards like coding standards, common integration practices or reusable components; or data standards like common metadata, naming standards and authoritative sources.  But in addition to defining these standards, effective governance must be in place to ensure that the standards are applied, especially in times such as these where there is immense pressure on project teams to deliver value and results as quickly as possible.  It is actually times like these that demand EA and governance to be most effective – when there seems to be an organizational push to eliminate anything that might delay project delivery.  This is when EA, IT and enterprise leadership must continue to place adaptability as a primary goal for planning, design and implementation.

I have some other ideas on this area as well, so see my other post this month for more.

1 thought on “Did We Forget about Adaptive EA?”

  1. @EADirections: “Lately, I have been wondering in my dealings with clients, prospects and online forums if we have forgotten this most basic, but important goal of EA – adaptability – the ability to accommodate change quickly and easily. ”

    Yes I would agree – it’s a massively important aspect that many organisations (and Enterprise Architects) largely ignore it (actively or passively).

    And that is why this objective (aka agility) is one of the key goals of EA described on page 7 of the Vision document of PEAF at http://www.pragmaticea.com/peaf-products1-foundation.htm.

    Managing Agility is therefore a key Strategy in accomplishing this goal and and balancing this goal with the other strategic goals of Effectiveness, Efficiency and Durability (described on pages 5 and 6)


    The Past
    Efficiency of change was not really important at all because things didn’t change very much. Enterprises tended to do produce the same products in the same way using the same people and the same tools for long periods of time.

    Things that could change which would require the enterprise to change only changed very slowly.

    When an enterprise did need to change (since processes were largely carried out by people who are extremely easy to change) it could make those changes very quickly by telling those people to do different things, by employing more people or by sacking people.

    The World Today

    Enterprises today exist in an environment of constant and fundamental change, and therefore enterprises need to be able to adapt and change quickly to cope with this maelstrom.

    Those that can will grow and prosper. Those that don’t will succumb to those that do.

    When an enterprise needs to change today it cannot rely so much on the limitless adaptability of people to effect that change.

    This is because so much of how an enterprise does what it does, is now either completely or partially automated and the complexity of those automated systems and business processes is causing a severe bottleneck in the enterprises ability to react to change in a timely and commercially sensible fashion.

    Transformational Efficiency is becoming, and will grow even more to become, a key business driver and differentiator. This importance continues to grow year on year.

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