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I've just caught up the latest installment in the " 'To Process' or 'Not To Process' " debate that has become a blogger slanging match between James McGovern, Robert McIlree and James Robertson played out in the comments sections and blog posts.

To summarise the debate has moved on from whether EA is just a set of processes or whether it's a practice. My pitch was that it's actually both and applied appropriately. So a debate about direction and ethos.

So a pointless opportunity for procrastination? Actually no, the EA roles and responsibilities are so loosely defined that you could fit the Titanic through the loop-hole of ambiguity. The reason is that the EA role is more than one role, given time I believe the EA role will sub-divide into new more specific roles, just like Analyst Programmer did.

James Robertson argues that companies when they get to a certain size can no longer do things quickly as the middle-management baggage starts to weigh a company down, he argues this is what happened to Microsoft, is happening to Google and will no doubt happen to Facebook. The cool-kids know this and jump from one to another and follow the trends. Correct me if I’m wrong James please but your point was, an EA is a role that applies when organisations need to start to fix the kludge and is a demonstration that a company has gone beyond the point of no-return?

Well that’s all well and good if you just look at the history of the IT industry.

Turn your attention to over companies in other industries and you will find large global organisations doing just fine, such as ING Bank and Toyota for example that have the ability to be big and responsive.

So how do they do it? Doing EA? Employing the Cool kids? Both?

The answer isn’t simple but it boils down to good leadership at the right level from the board room to the shop-floor. Understanding that change happens and it’s constantly reviewing and updating mechanisms to manage it and automate it at the right place by trial and error. There isn’t a fixed formula for success; it’s a slow and laborious evolution or effort and communication.

But our industry is always searching for the next revolution, the next cool idea, the quick fix, the big win. But this is an illusion, incremental change is more powerful and lasting than revolutionary change because it is more ingrained. The laughable irony is that biggest and most successful player in IT is a pass-master at just this, IBM. The Internet didn’t appear overnight. Even Facebook and social-networking has gone through many evolutions to get where it is today (remember Friends Reunited anyone?)

So I believe success in IT is actually a matter of choice, be like Robert Scoble searching for trends or Grady Booch constant refinement. I know I’m on the Grady Booch side of the fence but I recognise that there is a place for both of us, for now. Just like the Engineering industry the Isambard Kingdom Brunel's where 100 years ago making the big rockstar changes and that was needed to push the boundaries of what was possible, IT will tread a similar path. So enjoy revolutions in IT whilst you can because in the future they will be fewer and further between but just like the Great Eastern don’t expect every really big idea to be a success.

Update: Robert McIlree has responded now with a very personal attack on James McGovern in this post. As far as I'm concerned this debate has now gone beyond the point of actually being useful. It's episodes like this that form opinions of EA's. I would therefore suggest that we need to be a great deal more professional and get back to the debate because this is an important issue and we need to get to a point of some agreed understanding.

Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 5:27 PM Main , Technical Architecture , Enterprise Architecture | Back to top


Comments on this post: Next round of Enterprise Architecture Practice v Process Slanging Match!

# re: Next round of Enterprise Architecture Practice v Process Slanging Match!
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Quite right - its both. You've either understood this or you haven't. The fit depends on the business. If used and exploited properly (process) models can even secure your business (theory). Ford created a thorough cost model framework when they built the Cortina. The model was used to drive the development - all component project tteams had to build to scope and price. Finished product unit price came out about £2 over budget - not bad. So m- how come the competitors, BMC could sell their Mini at such a low price - using the same model, making the same estimates, they found BMC were actually making a loss on each one sold. In fact, so bad they felt duty bound to tell BMC . Oh no we are not - we know our business.....as they say the rest is history
Left by Markk on Nov 30, 2007 7:31 PM

# re: Next round of Enterprise Architecture Practice v Process Slanging Match!
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Really. And who explicitly invited you into this discussion and more importantly, gives a damn what you think? Moron.
Left by Robert McIlree on Dec 01, 2007 8:23 AM

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