>Systems Theory, Community Model, and Enterprise Architecture

>The Community Model is a way of presenting a high level view of function and the actors and their relationships in an organization. The model is then decomposed into activities, data, and requirements for establishing enterprise architecture. (adapted from Booz Allen Hamilton).

In the community model, the circle (representing the enterprise) is divided in half. The top half represents the mission functions. The bottom half represent the support functions. The Support functions act on the behalf of the mission function above and hence are connected by arrow from the support to the mission. The mission semi-circle above has arrows towards customers on the outside above the circle. The support semi-circle below has arrow towards supplies on the outside beneath the circle. There are additional arrows from the sides of the circle toward partners and towards organizational sub-entities that function independently (and have their own circle with mission and support), but that interfaces with the primary organization. I believe there should also be arrows connecting the prime circle to stakeholders, such as unions, associations, distributors, oversight authorities, even competitors.

This is a pretty cool way to get a high-level snapshot of the organization and the “community” it functions in.

In my view, the community model is an adaptation from Systems theory, which studies the nature of complex systems in society, nature, and science. In systems theory, organizations are compared to organisms; they are open and interact with their environment and must achieve effective relationships with the various actors in the environment to survive and thrive.

Systems theory is used as a framework to analyze and/or describe a group of objects that work in concert to produce some result. In this context, a system means a configuration of parts connected and joined together by a web of relationships. In the case of an EA community model, the enterprise and its affiliates are working to provide products and/or services to its users. The various actors in the system interact in a network of relationships to provide execute, support, consume, supply, distribute, partner, oversee, or compete. Every actor in the system has a role and every actor is impacting the others.

In User-centric EA, system theory and community model are terrific ways to understand and describe the enterprise, its functions, actors, interactions, and dependencies. It is also a good starting point for decomposing business, data, and system models to further understand the specific nature of the relationships and how these can be reengineered or improved prospectively.