Communicate EA Value Delivery

My rant on “Are we the reason it is so hard to express EA’s value?” last week restarted the ongoing debate about what EA is and should be doing.  Others posted their comments and feedback via Twitter.   The consensus was in line with my thinking that we need to find ways to show clear value and get away from the rhetoric.

Mike Rollings (@mikerollings), Gartner wrote a post “Demonstrating EA and IT Value is not Theoretical” where he categorized the comments into:

  • Value Theory – describes how value should work in an organization and this relies on a rational model where irrational people are taken out of the equation
  • Value Reality – does not sanitize the value discussion by eliminating people from the equation by focusing on value expectations and perceptions

Mike and others (me included) come from the value reality camp.

Getting things done lives and dies by identifying value expectations and understanding value perception. The value reality camp knows this because they have the war wounds from trying to make things happen in an organization.

Mike did a nice job of summarizing some practices for Value Realists:

  • Learn to describe architecture’s business contribution and value without using EA’s secret language.
  • Deliberately avoid a highly theoretical approach to EA in favor of helping produce results.
  • Describe what you can do to help versus describing EA.
  • Help the broader audience of business and technology professionals use the knowledge of dependencies, implications, and constraints to improve their results.

I also got a comment from Doug Newdick (@dougnewdick) that agreed with my post.

You have hit the nail on the head. I have looked from the sidelines on the definition of EA discussions, and occasionally sniped in trying to put a spanner in the works. I think it is particularly naive to believe that there is a single definition of EA. I also agree that there is no one model for how EA delivers value. For me EA is supremely contextual – what EA is and how it adds value will vary wildly between enterprises.

Doug then brought up an excellent point that all of us can help with:

Based on your post, what I would love to see more of are case studies – what has some one done in their particular organisation that has worked – has added value. These seem to me to be essential, and yet sorely lacking.

Can we each look at the work we have done and begin to publish some case studies where EA was able to demonstrate value? Some of the folks at CAEAP are working on some case studies for Applied Enterprise Architecture.  The #EA2010 group is also looking at creating a working document to help Enterprise Architects.

Please consider putting some time into this a publish your “EA Value” stories.  I plan on providing some of our case studies on this blog in the future.  Thanks!