>Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Enterprise Architecture


Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was the thirty-second President of the United States. Elected to four terms in office, he served from 1933 to 1945, and is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms. A central figure of the 20th century during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war, he has consistently been ranked as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents in scholarly surveys.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Roosevelt created the New Deal to provide relief for the unemployed, recovery of the economy, and reform of the economic and banking systems. Although recovery of the economy was incomplete until almost 1940, many programs initiated in the Roosevelt administration continue to have instrumental roles in the nation’s commerce, such as the FDIC, TVA, and the SEC. One of his most important legacies is the Social Security system.”

“The New Deal had three components: direct relief, economic recovery, and financial reform. These goals were also called the ‘Three Rs.’”

  • Relief was the immediate effort to help the one-third of the population most affected by the depression.
  • Recovery was the effort in many programs to restore normal economic health.
  • Reform was based on the idea that the Great Depression was caused by market instability and that government intervention was necessary to balance the interests of farmers, business and labor.”

President Roosevelt was a man of great accomplishment:

  • Domestically—“On the homefront his term saw the vast expansion of industry, the achievement of full employment, restoration of prosperity and new opportunities opened for African-Americans and women.”
  • Internationally, At War—Additionally, during World War II, “Roosevelt…provided decisive leadership against Nazi Germany and made the United States the principal arms supplier and financier of the Allies who later, alongside the United States, defeated Germany, Italy and Japan.”
  • Internationally, At Peace—“Roosevelt played a critical role in shaping the post-war world, particularly through the Yalta Conference and the creation of the United Nations.”
  • Personally—FDR showed amazing courage and was determined to regain use of his legs (that had been laid waste from the disease polio) through swimming.

(adapted from Wikipedia)

Wow, what an amazing President!

FDR was the impedemy of a doer and fighter. When the world was in chaos, whether from the Great Depression, World War II, or on a personal level when he contracted Polio at age 39, he came out with a plan and acted on it—whether the war he was fighting was povery and social ills, fascism and totalitarianism, or personal illness—FDR was a man of action and achievement, and this country was the great beneficiary.

FDR “brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action, and asserted in his Inaugural Address, ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/fr32.html)

FDR is a role model for leadership, but to me, he is also a paradigm for User-centric EA. Why? EA done correctly is not only about having a plan OR about taking action, but rather it is about developing a sound plan AND executing on it the way FDR did over and over again over 4 terms as President. He came up with the plan for the New Deal and successfully executed it, so that 75 years later many elements are still fundamental to our system of social and economic policy and administration. Also, FDR came up with a plan to defeat the Axis in WWII and he with Winston Churchill led us to success. Unfortunately, no amount of planning or execution could successfully fight Polio before the discovery of a vaccine by Jonas Salk.

In summary, EA is not only about planning and governance, but it’s about helping the organization to execute and achieve on its plan. EA does this by developing the transition plan, which logically sequences incremental change for the organization, as well as by working closely with leadership, subject matter experts and stakeholders to actually guide and influence positive change.

All EA practitioners can learn to plan and execute from the master, FDR!

>Jonah and Enterprise Architecture


There was an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal, 19 September 2007 about the Book of Jonah (that we read on Yom Kippur). Jonah was commanded by G-d to exhort the people of the city of Ninveh to repent or face G-d’s wrath. But Jonah flees and we all know what happens with him and the whale.

Jonah was concerned that he was in a catch 22. On one hand, if he warns the people of Ninveh and they repented and nothing happened (i.e. they were spared), then they would “assail Jonah for forcing them to make needless sacrifies.” On the other hand, if Ninveh did not repent and was destroyed, the Jonah would be a failed Prophet. (Yes, I know Jonah should’ve had faith that everything would be okay.)

Jonah’s dilema is repeated throughout history. During crisis, leaders frequently encounter this catch 22—no win dilema.

  • “Winston Churchhill, for example, prophetically warned of the Nazi threat in he 1930’s, but if he had convinced his countrymen to strike Germany pre-emptively, woul dhe have been hailed for preventing WWII or condemned for initiating an unnecessary conflict?”
  • Similarly, “Harry Truman predicted that Japan would never surrender and that a quarter of a million GIs would be killed…and so he obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki only to be vilified by many historians.”
  • This type of denounciation, for prevening an unknown, is what President Bush is experiencing for invading Iraq after 9/11 to stave off another terrorist attack in the United States.

What’s the leadership lesson here?

“This is the tragedy of leadership…policy makers must decide between costly actions and inaction…they will be reproved for the actions they take to forestall a catastrophe, but may receive no credit for averting cataclysm that never occur.”

In User-centric EA, like in all planning endeavors, we face a similar crisis of leadership. EA develops the enterprise’s target and transition plan, yet whatever actions (or inactions) that the target state and plan take, the architects are wide open for criticism.

  • If their planning in any way helps avert a future corporate crisis, no one will recognize them for some unknown that did not occur.
  • And if the plans in any way misses the mark (and no plan is perfect), then the architects are villified for the “errors of their ways”.
  • Finally, even with the best laid plans, who can definitely make the causal relationship between the plan and results.

So, architects, like Jonah, are in tough spot—hopefully, we don’t get swallowed by the whale of nay-sayers and critics. Of course, its always easier to criticize than to be constructive.