There are two important themes in the MWT Model that are used to shift organisational habits. These are ‘pendulum arguments & something else’ and ‘ideal realised strategies’. Pendulum arguments are issues like the ‘centralise or decentralise’ debate that cause organisations to continuously cycle through organisational design or financial control models. These pendulums must be fixed with ‘something else’ – such as an operating model or a collaboration architecture in this case.
Ideal Realised Strategies are a separate category. These are the problems when a strategy is proposed or in place that only delivers an acceptable balance of benefits and risk if it is implemented perfectly (which of course number happens). In the context of the MWT Model, these are usually management strategies such as ‘ensure you confirm that you have closed all issues by the milestone date’.
Ideal Realised Strategies often have unstated dependancies or are otherwise unfeasible. Ideal Realised Strategies also tend to keep people in positions of power because they need to be continuously funded and supported while the strategy endlessly edges towards perfect implementation.
As I spend some time thinking about enterprise architecture I’m starting to see the whole practice of enterprise architecture as an Ideal Realised Strategy. I was also struck by title of this article (“What to enterprise architecture and socialism have in common”) and as a Mises-head of sorts didn’t like the comparison.
I usually place enterprise architecture (EA) as the anti-thisis of the overtly political approach to organisational design and decision making inherent in the managerial approach. But not everybody places EA in this context, and it sometimes appears that as EA ‘matures’ to prescribe governance and business architecture approaches it is increasingly making its success dependant on more total control of the organisation.
Any strategy that has its success based on increasingly total control of the organisation that it supports is by definition an Ideal Realised Strategy.
Once I see EA this way I can’t help but think that it’s also evolving into a form of technocracy in the same way I have argued that managerialism is technocratic. It also risks becoming part of a pendulum argument in the way I have seen organisations swing from sales lead (“if we don’t sell anything it doesn’t matter what we deliver”) to delivery lead (“if our delivery suffers our clients won’t want to buy our product no matter how good our sales people are”).
EA is changing – needs to change – but let’s get this right.
Update: there are some nice hints towards an EA approach less obsessed with centralised power in the Gartner press release I’ve previously referenced.