I have seen and experienced an ivory tower school of thoughts on Enterprise Architecture (EA). There were set of enterprise architects I have had interacted with (before I became an enterprise architect) who had the ivory tower approach. That is, they considered them selves as the law makers. It is up to the civilians (rest of the organization) to interpret and obey the law. They came up with patterns and told every one should use it. They came up with recommendation on frameworks and told every one should use it. They came up with set of standards and told every one should use it religiously. I think, there is nothing wrong in making recommendation and leading the organization to use those standard, reusable frameworks.
The real problem was, they just made recommendation and had less or no idea how to make those things work together. They lost creditability and respect since they do not know how those recommendation work and add value to a project. This approach gave the organization that the EA team throws rock and put road blocks to a project instead of adding value. Over the time, they became theoretical and easy chair thinkers.
The practical problem was, they just made recommendation and had no idea how those things work together. They had no measure to show the value proposition they brought to the organization ( they might did that on purpose since they might knew they added no value to the organization) They skipped any step which was challenging to them. Over the time, this ivory tower approach educated the whole organization, enterprise architecture is nothing but making recommendation and drawing boxes and connecting them. The boxes would be like web server running in AIX talking to app server running in Sun solaris over HTTP(s). There was no EA accountability for EA recommendation. If the project team could not implement the recommendation, then it was project team who lacked the implementation knowledge of EA recommendation. It is save approach for EA. It is like Gartner. They are never wrong and never precise.
It is better to learn from others mistakes.
Steps to make EA work for you.
- Think long term and work short term
- Create road maps to meet the IT strategy
- Assist the organization to do better IT investment using EA
- Make recommendation using the road map. Assign system architects from the architecture team (EA & SA are in the same team) to the project team to ensure the EA recommendation works and adds value to the project.
- Collaborate with the operation team or project teams to understand the difficulties in implementing the recommendation and adjust/fine tune the recommendation accordingly for the future projects
- Rotate the system architect and enterprise architect periodically within the team
- Integrate the enterprise architecture (EA) with the SDLC processes to keep the EA information up to date all the time
- Be an internal consultant to the IT organization (operational, project, portfolio, governance teams and CIO office)
- Be practical and make it happen..