>The Visionary and Enterprise Architecture

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In User-centric EA, we develop a vision or target state for the organization. However, there are a number of paradoxes in developing an EA vision/target, which makes this goals quite challenging indeed.

In the book, The Visionary’s Handbook by Wacker and Taylor, the authors identify the paradoxes of developing a vision for the enterprise; here are some interesting ones to ponder:

  1. Proving the vision—“The closer your vision gets to provable ‘truth,’ the more you are simply describing the present in the future tense.”
  2. Competing today, yet planning for tomorrow—“By its very nature, the future destablizes the present. By its very natures, the present resists the future. To survive you need duality [i.e. living in two tenses, the present and the future], but people and companies by their very nature tend to resisting living in two tenses.” “You have to compete in the future dimension without destabilizing the competition [i.e. your ability to compete] in the present and without subverting the core values that have sustained your business in the past.”
  3. Bigger needs to be smaller—“The bigger you are, the smaller you need to be….great size is great power, but great size is also stasis.”
  4. The future is unpredictable—“Nothing will turn out exactly as it is supposed to…yet if you fail to act, you will cease to exist in any meaningful professional or business sense.”

So how does one develop a viable target architecture?

The key would seem to be in deconflicting past, present, and future. The past cannot be a hindrance to future change and transformation—the past must remain the past; lessons learned are welcome and desirable, but the options for the future should be open to innovation and hard work. The resistance of the present (to the future) must be mitigated by continuous communications and marketing; we must bring people along and provide leadership. The future is unknown, but trends and probabilities are possible for setting a way ahead; of course, the target needs to remain adaptable to changing conditions.

Certainly, any target architecture we develop is open to becoming a “target” for those who wish to take pot shots. But in an ever changing world and fierce global competition, we cannot sit idle. The architecture must lead the way for incremental and transformative change for the organization, all the while course correcting based on the evolving baseline and market conditions. EA is as much an art as it is a science, and the paradoxes of vision and planning need to be managed carefully.

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