>Eisenhower and Enterprise Architecture

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Dwight David Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969), nicknamed “Ike“, was a five-star General in the United States Army and U.S. politician, who served as the thirty-fourth President of the United States (1953–1961). During the Second World War, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, with responsibility for planning and supervising the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944-45. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO. As a Republican, he was elected the 34th U.S. President, serving for two terms. As president, he oversaw the cease-fire of the Korean War, kept up the pressure on the Soviet Union during the Cold War…” (Wikipedia)

Dwight D. Eisenhower said that “in preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

What does this mean when it comes to User-centric EA and target architecture and transition plans?

  1. Plans are agile—you can plan, but you can’t control the situation on the ground. Therefore, EA plans are by definition undependable. A plan developed for one situation may be completely useless or actually counterproductive in another set of circumstances. Further, there are essentially infinite factors in every scenario and you can’t plan for every combination and permutation. Therefore, you can never really plan effectively, since in some aspects, the plan will always be off.
  2. Planning is a learning process—while a specific EA plan itself may ultimately be useless, the planning process itself is extremely valuable. Bringing subject matter experts and stakeholders together to brainstorm, evaluate various scenarios, analyze alternatives, and “hash it out” helps everyone involved to understand the objectives, the battleground, the force structure (assets), and unify everyone around a common way ahead. This is the true value of planning.

In the end, EA plans must be agile and adaptable to the specific situation on the ground, as it evolves. If the planning process has been taken seriously (and not just another annual offsite event), then everyone involved grows professionally, learns about the status of the organization today, and unites around a common way ahead. For this to happen, the planning process needs to be well-structured, yet open to innovative ideas, best-practices, and benchmarking, and should involve a diverse group of subject matter experts. If the planning process is sound, then even if the plan needs to change based on circumstances on the ground, the people involved are able and prepared to adapt.