There are at least two school of thoughts for enterprise architecture.
- Law maker approach
- Do what makes sense and do the right thing approach
Law maker approach
I had witnessed the first approach in the past. I was not playing an enterprise architect manager nor enterprise architect role at that time. Watched from the side line and it is better to learn the mistakes from others. The law maker approach is to come up with all the standards, road maps, patterns,etc and it is up to the civilian (rest of the organization) to abide to the law. If the civilian did not follow the law, then civilian violated the law and if civilian assess the law is inappropriate then an appeal can be made to the enterprise architects and they reevaluate the standards or patterns. I do not believe in this approach. This will create the EA as the special group or ivory tower team makes decision but never will have clear picture on implementation and lack details on the value generated to the organization.
Do what makes sense and do the right thing approach
I love this approach. Not just for IT strategy nor EA. I love this approach for any role. For the Enterprise Architects, this approach is the apt approach to fetch value to the organization.
Factual Data —> Analysis + Intuition = Solution
The above concept applies to any management consultant. Boutique management consultant firms (like Boston Consulting Group, BCG) when they get engaged with a client, they work on very interesting problems like “why WALL-E (a movie recently released by Walt Disney) did not exceed the expectations?” and for this kind of consultation, they need factual data, quantitative analysis and apply intuition to derive the solution.
Enterprise Architects are the management consultants with stronger technical knowledge. To add value to the organization EA need to get the factual data, quantitative analysis, intuition and come up with road maps, IT investment management framework, patterns, compliance, etc.
To get the factual data EA needs to understand the end to end business life cycle. For example, if an organization is financial service organization, then EAs need to personally visit contact centers, customer services centers, business centers, dealership, zone offices etc. If possible, at least for a day, they need to play the appropriate roles in each centers. (Like be a credit analyst, customer service agent, call center agent, collection agent, repossessing agent etc) Get a loan or lease product from the same financial service company and be a real customer and use the web sites as the customer. Experience gained during this visits, role plays, interviews and etc provides EA (and IT strategist) an edge to come up with realistic strategic plan for the organization which will have a direct positive impact to the bottom line of the core business.