“Generative” EA Principles

In my previous post, I suggested that integrating Kevin Kelly’s 8 “generatives” will help EA adoption (please read Kevin’s excellent article Better than Free for the details on each):

  • Immediacy
  • Personalization
  • Interpretation
  • Authenticity
  • Accessibility
  • Embodiment
  • Patronage
  • Findability

This really got me thinking about how we approach introducing and maturing enterprise architecture in our organizations. How many of you made attempts to introduce EA practices and struggled in your organizations?  What  attracts clients to your EA service? Do you use a carrot or a stick? Why would people in your organization come to you for services? What makes your service better than free?

Can we take Kevin’s “generatives” and apply them as principles of our EA practice? This post describes how we can apply Kevin’s “generatives” as influencing guiding principles for delivering Enterprise Architecture.

Immediacy – Does your EA practice provide immediacy to facilitate solution delivery in your organization? Can your EA serve to deliver solutions quicker and in a supported, sustainable manner?  If your EA process takes weeks or months or even years, there is no immediacy for your clients and they will go elsewhere even if it costs them more. If we design our EA services to address the immediacy demand of our clients, we can deliver the immediacy generative. Applying our EA Guiding Principle “Reuse-Acquire-Create” will help.

Personalization – Does your EA practice address the requirements of your client’s specific needs? Communication is a key role for an Enterprise Architect. Building relationships and creating value for your clients by understanding their needs and enabling solutions tailored to their business challenges. This creates “stickiness” between the business and your EA practice. Both parties collaboratively build a relationship which is a generative asset that they are invested in. To me this is a great way of thinking about technology services becoming a trusted partner to the business and delivering the personalization generative.

Interpretation– Can your EA practice be the interpreter and bridge between easily accessible technology solutions and real business requirements?  How many times do business units in your organization buy a technology to address their current pain point ,only to find that the technology is cheap to acquire but costly to implement and difficult to  integrate? If we as EA’s, can help our business partners make better choices by guiding them with standard solution architectures that integrate into our overall enterprise architecture, we meet the interpretation generative.

Authenticity – Do the solutions proposed by your EA practice provide a total solution that addresses implementation and ongoing service delivery at a fair price? We need to build the Business Architecture layer of our Enterprise Architecture.  By understanding the business processes and cycles, we can tailor standard solution architectures that integrate people, process, information and technology. By putting the business needs ahead of technology acquisition, we can deliver the authentic generative.

Accessibility – How do we make EA accessible to our organization? Create a model for your clients to understand the levels of technology governance.  We built a model that describes technology governance based on 3 axes – funding, impact and support.  The scales for these factors range from centralized to decentralized.  By combining these factors, we articulate 4 governance groups – enterprise, departmental, innovative and opportunistic. I will describe in more detail about this in a future post. Ensuring that our clients understand what it takes to adopt a technology to provide service based on budget, impact and support factors, delivers on the accessibility generative.

Embodiment– Kevin talked about music being free but the live concert performance being the thing with value.  For EA, my analogy would be doing EA documentation to the “excruciating level of detail” that John Zachman advocates, while it is not free, it also does not deliver value.  Documenting our architecture at a level that provides value and allows maintainability, enables enterprise architects to focus on delivering the EA practice. The value (embodiment) of EA artifacts is not in the creation of them but in the leveraging of them to build well integrated, reliable and resilient architectures.  Leveraging IT Service Management practices like ITIL also help deliver the embodiment generative.

Patronage– If people are willing to pay creators for work of value, what is our analogy for enterprise architecture? Since we started our EA practice, we worked hard to become the valued and trusted partners of our clients at the Institute. How do we build trust and encourage our clients to seek us out?  Building solid processes to capture client needs, assess them quickly and deliver a response timely will help us move to a partnership model that delivers work of value. Recently, EA reviews have been put in place for all purchase requistions for new software. Ensuring that we do these reviews quickly and communicate back to our requesters is essential to build on the level of trust shown us. In this way our EA practice can deliver the patronage generative. 

Findability – In the world of freely available technology, how do we provide accessibility to our EA services? What communication methods and techniques do we need to create to allow our services to be found.  Obviously, we need to create a web presence, an artifact repository, an entry in our Core Service Catalogue and it goes without saying communicate, communicate, communicate.  This aggregate generative puts all the other 7 generatives together in a cohesive package and can make your EA service “generative”.

If applications, services and technology are freely available in the cloud, why would our clients come to us? What can we create in an Enterprise Architecture service that is immediate, personalized, interpreted, authentic, accessible, aligned, appreciative and attributable?  I hope I gave you some ideas and answers in this post.  I look forward to your comments and feedback.