Funny to observe how much effort has been spend lately in counter-arguing the arguments for having an all-embracing succinct definition of enterprise architecture. The message is that it is “not worth the effort” as there is no succinct definition capturing the essence to find, and that one shouldn’t care because a definition does not really matter anyway.
One of the arguments being put forward to support that position is that one does not have an all-embracing succinct definition of “accounting” or “engineering” either and no one really seems to care or to be hindered. A lot of accountants and engineers just do what they do and the value delivered is widely recognized.
It is however exactly that assertion that points to the heart of the matter. It is not a definition that is essential, it is broadly shared, sufficient tacit knowledge. That’s what is different for “accounting” or “engineering”. People hiring an accountant or an engineer almost never ask for a definition although they themselves may not be able to come even close to an all-embracing succinct one.
Question is: how does one get to broadly shared, sufficient tacit knowledge? One may wonder whether sufficient tacit knowledge of what is “accounting” or “engineering” was always broadly shared. The answer is: of course not!
It is debate, in order to synthesize a story, even if that is an attempt to get to better definition, that advances tacit knowledge transfer and eventually installs broadly shared, sufficient tacit knowledge.
Fact is that I agree with above mentioned position that there is not one succinct definition capturing the essence to find. But a defining story is definitely within reach. Next posts will shed more light on what I mean with that apparent contradiction.
“But a defining story is definitely within reach”. I agree! The “essence” of, say, X cannot be found within X. No matter how hard we try to think it so. It simply isn’t there. X continually comes into being by its ever changing relationships with its surroundings and vice versa. Hence the story! Of course!
I do not believe that there is a definition of anything that cannot be reexamined, de-constructed and reconstructed to be something different but essentially the same. This is the life blood of jazz, for example. And the key word here is “essence”.
Sometimes the essence of a thing can be defined and other times it can only be alluded to. The one thing you can guarantee is that the essence of anything is a subjective experience on behalf of the viewer, the observer. Take beauty. Take jazz.
So, when I try to identify and categorise the “what” of something I acknowledge that I am in the realm of subjectiveness where absolute values, determinism of any kind is a fool’s errand.
However, I want to be able to capture the elements that influence the essence of a thing, accepting that this will be subjective and personal.
Why? Because without a set of constructs we cannot rationally – or irrationally – talk about this “thing”, this somethingness without the discussion becoming meaningless.
For me, entarch is a composite, an aggregation of ideas, influences, realities and thinking coupled with a healthy dose of pragmatism. Even if I cannot formally define what entarch is I at least want to know where it lives.
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With a back-reference to your (this) post I have reacted and contributed with a seperate post Definition of Enterprise Architecture
The problem isn’t that we can’t agree on how to define Enterprise Architecture. And it isn’t even that we don’t share a common pool of knowledge. The bigger problem is that we can’t agree on what the goals of Enterprise Architecture are. Until we agree on the problems we are trying to solve, trying to agree on the knowledge we need to solve those problems will be impossible.
Thanks for your thoughts! A first general reply is in the new post The Road to a Defining Story of Enterprise Architecture