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What can Enterprise Architecture learn from Systems Thinking?
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What can Enterprise Architecture learn from Systems Thinking?

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My presentation to the Open Group London conference, October 2013

My presentation to the Open Group London conference, October 2013

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  • http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/kandinsky-swinging-t02344
  • http://www.fertomniavirtus.com/vassily-kandinsky/
  • http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/kandinsky-swinging-t02344http://www.fertomniavirtus.com/vassily-kandinsky/
  • http://pubs.opengroup.org/architecture/togaf9-doc/arch/chap32.html

What can Enterprise Architecture learn from Systems Thinking? What can Enterprise Architecture learn from Systems Thinking? Presentation Transcript

  • What can Enterprise Architecture learn from Systems Thinking? Richard Veryard Open Group Conference London October 2013
  • Preamble 1 4 Who Am I?
  • Preamble 2 Describing both EA and ST as practices A body of knowledge A community of practitioners A discourse (way of talking) Practice A professional service 5 A tool or instrument for achieving some defined goals.
  • Preamble 3 On the Unreliability of Labels • Labels like EA and ST are almost impossible to pin down. People waste much effort squabbling about definitions. Extreme precision doesn’t always make any sense. • In this talk, I shall refer to “Enterprise Architecture” and “Systems Thinking” as if these were reasonably well-defined (but possibly overlapping) regions of practice. • There are many different schools of EA and ST, and the internet is awash with squabbles between rival schools. (Especially on Linked-In). • There is also a significant gap between what people think practitioners OUGHT to be doing and what practitioners ACTUALLY DO. • So please take my use of the labels “Enterprise Architecture” and “Systems Thinking” with caution. 7
  • Schools of EA • Modernist, Engineering (James Martin, John Zachman, TOGAF) • Classical, NeoClassical (Christopher Alexander) • Baroque, Complexity, H ybrid (Nick Gall) • Post-Modern (VPEC-T) • Pragmatic (CapabilityLed Planning) 8
  • Schools of Systems Thinking • Systems Dynamics (Forrester, Meadows) • Soft Systems Methodology (Checkland) • Quality and Process (Deming, Seddon) • Cybernetics (Beer) • Organic (Bateson, Maturana) • Ethical (Vickers, Churchman) with apologies to Kandinsky 9
  • Is that it? “But that’s not what I call systems thinking!” “But that’s not what enterprise architects really do!” 10
  • Three Questions • What do EA and ST have in common? – Common Goals? – Common Ground? – Shared Frustrations? • What can EA and ST learn from each other? – Stance – Style • What opportunities are there for practical collaboration between EA and ST? 12
  • Shared Frustrations who is WE? • We can clearly see some major problems with the structure and behaviour of large enterprises and public sector ecosystems. • We can also see why current initiatives are likely to fail. • But the people in charge of these systems don’t appreciate the valuable contribution we could make. 13 • We are often unable to get access to working at “the right level”. • We are forced to work on fragments of the problem rather than the whole.
  • Common Self-Belief • “We are better than anyone else at abstraction and generalization.” • “We are better than anyone else at big picture, joined-up thinking.” 14 • Abstraction  ungrounded metaspeculation? • Big picture thinking  infinite escalation.
  • Common Ground Similarities Enterprise architecture and systems thinking share some important characteristics. • Overlapping range of concepts and techniques for tackling difficult business problems. • Practitioners face similar challenges when working with large and complex business organizations and ecosystems, • Similar difficulties and frustrations in trying to engage stakeholders in joined-up “big picture” thinking. 15 Differences There are also some significant differences, which create a real opportunity for collaboration and exchange. • Different techniques • Different perspective • Different strengths
  • Are EA and ST the same thing? • We have a concept of “system”. • We consider the whole enterprise “as a system”. • We consider human activity systems as well as mechanical systems (such as software). • We are good at abstraction and generalization. • We are good at “big picture”, joined-up thinking. BUT 16 A human icon makes a system into a human system!
  • What does “enterprise-as-a-system” mean? • Enterprise as an open or closed system? • Enterprise as a human activity or sociotechnical system? • Enterprise as a dynamic, complex adaptive or viable system? 17 What is an enterprise? Are humans inside or outside the system? Which notion of dynamic? Which notion of complexity?
  • Different Notions of System? ST (sometimes) EA (sometimes) • “System” is part of the problem • “System” is part of the solution space. space. • We try to understand the • We explore why the existing structure and behaviour of solutions aren’t performing complex systems. (AS-IS). • We then intervene to improve • We create blueprints for their structure and behaviour. improved solutions (TO-BE) Both EA and ST practitioners should be alert to the possibility that different people may use words in different ways. 18
  • Different Notions of System Thinking? And what about third-order cybernetics? First Order Cybernetics • Systems thinking gives us a model of what is going on … • … from the viewpoint of a neutral and all-seeing observer.  19 What things should we be looking at? (“Ontology”) Second Order Cybernetics • Systems thinking helps us to make sense of what is going on … • … from the viewpoint of an engaged participant.  How we can know about these things? (“Epistemology”)
  • One EA School – Capability-Led Planning 21
  • Asset-Specificity Delegating a capability always introduces an additional capability – namely governance. outsourced services noncore procurement of … shared services procurement of green coffee beans core …green coffee beans assetspecific services Decomposing a capability into smaller capabilities always introduces an additional capability – namely that of coordinating multiple capabilities to produce coherent outcomes. 22
  • Simple Capability Dependency (Weak) Actual Supply Procurement Logistics Agreed Supply 23 What is the nature of this dependency? Tight/loose coupling? Procurement Negotiation Required Supply
  • Three Levels of Capability Capability Type of Risk Type of Error (Root-Cause Analysis) Pricing Typical Service Type Execution Capability Operation / Transaction Performance Risk A component service will not work as specified Error of Execution The failure of a planned action to be completed as specified Input-Based Factory Service Coordination & Control Capability First-Order Learning Composition Risk The component services will not work together as a whole as intended Error of Planning The use of a wrong plan to achieve an aim OutputBased Information Mapping Service Strategic Capability 24 Scope SecondOrder Learning Implementation Risk The proposition will not work in its context-of-use Error of Intention The supplier adopting an aim that is unwanted by the user ValueBased Business Management Service
  • Issues Algebra • Composition • Decomposition Scope • Escalation • Regression Whole / Part Relationship • Holism • Reductionism 25
  • Warning of the doorknob - escalation Design a doorknob Is a door the best way of controlling access to your office? 27 Do you really need a traditional office with four walls? … Source J.P. Eberhard Is a doorknob the best way of opening and closing a door? Is capitalist democracy the best way to organize our economy?
  • Warning of the doorknob - regression Design a doorknob Technologies for fitting metal objects to hands. 28 Metallurgy Atomic physics Source J.P. Eberhard Study the shape of a man’s hand Subatomic physics
  • Different Stance? (tongue in cheek) Based on: Albert Hirschman ST as realist, reactionary? EA as progressive, visionary? • Purposive action to improve some feature of the political, social, or economic order may only serve to exacerbate the condition one wishes to remedy. ("perversity thesis"). • Attempts at social transformation are often unavailing, that they will simply fail to "make a dent." ("futility thesis") • The cost of the proposed change or reform is often too high, especially if it endangers some previous, precious accomplishment. ("jeopardy thesis") • Urgent action is necessary to avoid imminent danger ("The Imminent Danger") • All reforms work together and reinforce each other, rather than being competing ("The Synergy Illusion") • History Is on Our Side. 29
  • Why New Systems Don’t Work (Possibly) Errors of Execution • Passive adoption (resistance) • Poor implementation 30 Errors of Planning • System as designed system in use • Poor choice of technology (technology fetish) Errors of Intention • Changing requirements • Local global • Short-term longer-term • User customer
  • Why Old Systems Don’t Work (Possibly) • Complexity • Changing requirements • Attempts to eliminate complexity • Hidden agenda • Cybernetic Entropy • Enterprise Ferality – management controls becoming less effective over time 31 – POSIWID (Stafford Beer) – “an autocatalytic phenomenon that is selfperpetuating” (Steve Brewis)
  • Collaboration • Ability of large teams to • Different people address large and working on different complex problems scales – EA – ST – EA + ST – One scale isn’t automatically better than any other scale • Multiple viewpoints and • Interoperability between different perspectives scales and viewpoints – ISO 42010 – Lenscraft 32 Compare and contrast how EAs work in teams with how STs work in teams?
  • References • C. West Churchman, The Systems Approach and its Enemies (1979) • J.P. Eberhard, “We Ought to Know the Difference” in Gary T. Moore (ed) Emerging Methods in Environmental Design and Planning (MIT Press, 1970) pp 364-365 • John Gøtze and Anders Jensen-Waud (eds), Beyond Alignment: Applying Systems Thinking in Architecting Enterprises (College Publications 2013) • Albert Hirschman, The Rhetoric of Reaction (1991) • Richard Sennett, Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation (2012) • Richard Veryard, Towards Next Practice Enterprise Architecture (LeanPub 2013) • Geoffrey Vickers, Human Systems are Different (1983) 33
  • Contacts www.replyltd.co.uk. r.veryard@replyltd.co.uk http://twitter.com/richardveryard 34