Month: August 2007

Enterprise Architecture – An Art of War

Katrina was ‘Shock and Awe’ 

Article Published on CPPE, Government Transformation Journal, Fall 2007

Editor Steven Else

Organizations are More than People: Lessons from Iraq and Katrina

by Bill Hall 

Various kinds of business managers, knowledge managers, HR people, business process improvementexperts and many other people are all concerned to help their organizations work better. Most develop apragmatic body of knowledge based on interventions that have at least occasionally worked in the past.Case studies may be expanded into generalizations and published as ‘how to manage’ books. However,organizations are complex entities, and different organizations, or even the same organization atdifferent times, often respond differently to what seems to be the same interventions.

A few people are interested in the theory of how organizations work — i.e., “how come”, so they canapply controls with some deeper understanding as to how and why they should work. In my experience,most people are solely interested in pragmatics at the personal level — i.e., what do I do now? Some inthe latter camp are often apparently deeply immersed in the engineering paradigm.Pragmatic rules of thumb for what works for an individual will not provide the guidance we need totruly understand the dynamic behaviors of organizations. Such a purely pragmatic perspective makes itdifficult to grasp the concept that different rules may apply at different levels of focus.

The organization is beyond the control of any single individual, no matter how powerful; and behaviorsthat may seem beneficial to the individual leader may have very detrimental effects for the organizationas a whole. For example, the single powerful individual can introduce perturbations — as Gorbachev didwith Glasnost in the Soviet Union. Perturbations can be absorbed and dampened; they can also cause theorganizational activities to relax into a new “attractor basin” that leads to a permanent and hopefullybeneficial change of some kind; or they can drive the organization beyond its self-regulatory capacity —as happened in the cases of the Afghanistan, the Soviet Union and Iraq, where the organizationalstructure at the ‘government’ level of focus disintegrated completely. Without a theoretical understandingof how organizations work and survive as entities in their own rights, it may be very difficult to see thisdifference.

The results of particular perturbations are non-computable, but it may be possible to understandorganizations well enough to use controlled perturbations as constraints and attractors to lead and channel. 

The late USAF Col. John Boyd’s strategic thinking (see War, Chaos and Business – http://, and Defense and the National Interest – was based on a verydeep understanding of complex systems. Boyd showed that an individual’s or organization’s ability torespond adaptively depends critically on its ability to observe the effects and changes due to its prioractions; then orient to the observations and prior history; and decide and act as a result of that orientationprocess faster than the environment changes. This cyclical feedback process is reasonably well known tostrategic thinkers as ‘Boyd’s OODA loop’. The bottom line is that if the entity’s environment is too oftenobserved inaccurately and/or changes so actions generated by its own OODA cycle no longer relate tothe presently existing world, its decisions will become progressively more chaotic and irrational until theentity is destroyed or disintegrates. A combatant seeks to accurately track and respond to its own effects onthe environment while perturbing its enemy’s communications and environment to create a fog of warforcing the enemy into chaos and disintegration. 

My students and I have shown (seepublications on Evolutionary Biology of Species and Organizations – that knowledge and information used by organizations for organizational purposes are notidentical to knowledge and information used by individual people for personal purposes. What this means isthat where a person is filtering input from the environment to prevent information overload in order torespond rapidly and adequately to his/her own immediate environment, this may be entirely the wrong thingto do for organizational purposes where it becomes impossible for a high level decision maker to knowenough about the organization’s environment to make adequate decisions.

From the organizational point of view, the processes of orientation and decision making must be moved closer to the periphery, where the deciders and actors can react faster and more accurately within thelimits of what they are capable of observing. This suggests that central leadership must delegate thedecisions to others closer to the interface with the environment and focus more on roles of establishingimperatives; and selecting, nurturing and coordinating a distributed decision-making apparatus.

“Shock and awe”, as developed from Boyd’s strategic thinking, drives enemy organizations into states ofchaos and defeat by changing external reality faster than they can monitor and respond to it. The lesson forAmerica from Iraq and Katrina seems to be that if an organization over-centralizes decision making and thenthe high-level decision makers limit feedback from history and the consequences of their decisions to avoidinformation overload, chaos and uncertainty are fostered because decisions no longer track what is actuallyhappening.

Because executive decisions are so centralized and so far removed from the “ground truth”, critical decisionsare no longer based primarily on a close monitoring of reality. Consequently, the actions taken on thesedecisions no longer relate to the actual state of the changing world. Because feedback is too severely filtered,working assumptions are not subject to early correction when evidence from the real world demonstrates

their errors

Enterprise Architecture – Theory of Constraints – EA unravels Complexity – ‘Success is not Luck’

Goldratt on ‘Theory of Constraint’

    Advt based on TOC – Regulated Harmony

While credit card speeded up the process, it did take away money from one and made dependent on the Creditors. Credit Card companies make awesome loads of money taking advantage of the imposed systemic dependency. (antithesis)

    Note: TOC attempts to detect bottlenecks in processes (especially in a simpler process cell) that may eventually choke the entire system.

Self Regulating Chaos (subconscious intelligence)

    Or is it really Harmony Discerned from Chaos !!Probabilistic Determinism – seems like Harmony, While individual occurances are stochastic (random)

Generative Transformation – Economic Model – System Dynamics

EA Complexity

By Srinidhi Boray

Enterprise Architecture  Assists in Understanding Enterprise’s Unique Economic Model

Remember : With Increasing Complexity Degree of Freedom Reduces

When System Strives for Extreme Commoditization – Individual Should Strive for Specialized & Unique Competencies

On 26th Feb’ 2009  CNN Reports – Reason for GM  failure blamed on steep Fixed Cost. Cost per day loss $110 Million.

However one may attempt to distort reality, in the end one cannot play with numbers, as numbers are mere numbers. Rational number cannot be irrational number and vice-versa. Math is one among of those pure art, without which no science can ever be validated.  It helps bring immense clarity to observation. When one is severely deficient in this art, then it can conveniently be assumed, that one is also deficient in the process of accurate deduction. This is why, it makes it important to ardently school, paying attention to those rudimentary subjects, that help mind ascertain facts quickly and deal with life with more clarity. Failing which, all architecture design will be a fallacious attempt and distortion of reality. Even Mozart used Math to compose his symphonies, which is akin to Enterprise Architecture. It was because of employing Math, that he produced great order in all his works, despite disorder in his own personal life. After all one must know, it is in the numbers that rich and poor are unequally divided.

Gartner has begun to endorse the view proposed in this article. Check Brian Burke of Gartner discuss Below

As an anti-thesis – this is also said of Maths by Albert Einstein “as far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. This is where Enterprise Architecture improves upon on by providing better abstraction and logical reasoning by introducing structure derived from  ontology that is intrinsically ‘architecture’.

Enterprise Architecture, via its structure helps in achieving ‘loss of innocence’. When this happens many architectural cross-sections can be derived, such as – business model, information model, solution model, technology model, security model so on so forth. When all these pan out, by attributing cost, the economic model becomes available that can be further analyzed for Total Cost of Ownership, Cost Savings and Return on Investments. These costing perspectives are better clarified by understanding ‘fixed cost’ and ‘variable cost’ and the way they operate within the larger portfolio. A better perspective of all the costing elements helps in performing informed capital planning and investment control needed fr any cost optimization planning. All things abstract add to the variable cost. It is here where standards work and help in reducing the variable cost across the enterprise and firming up the ‘fixed cost’. Anything that cannot be subjected to “loss of innocence” and remains intellectual; becomes available to be exploited for promoting bureaucracies.

All large institutions struggle to gain good control on the fixed cost and find ways and means to reduce the variable cost. Also, institutions are continously pushed towards the ‘economy of scale’ to achieve competitive product offerings. The dynamics introduced by all the economic criterias is a systemic property. It is not the willful desire of any company to attempt ‘scaling of the economy’ and hurt the local interests. If they have to thrive in a competitive environment then they have to follow the fundamentals that defines the nature of that environment. Moreover, it is the unrelenting strife between the order and disorder within the system, that triggers generative transformation, that intends to seek equilibrium in the system dynamics reaching an optimized (cost + process) state.  This drives companies to seek opportunities for lowering the cost. Non scalable and repetitive activities are the work units that have best opportunities to be treated like a cookie cutter component and be rendered at a site where it can be created at the least cost. All most all the activities in the manufacturing sector is non scalable and can be linearly componentized. In the service sector as-well, there are many activities which are non-intuitive and non-scalable, these also become ‘unit of work’ that can be translated into components to be manufactured at a cost effective site. The off-sites (Contract Manufacturers) who render the ‘unit of work’ at a reduced cost, also attempt to achieve ‘economy of scale’. This push-pull brings down the cost and also turns the ‘unit of work’ into a commodity that has a diminishing intellectual worth. Contract Manufacturing is a large and specialized business and all-most all the large electronics manufacturers engage contract manufactures to achieve competitive product pricing. Even IPOD is manufactured taking advantage of pricing advantage that contract manufacturing offers.

Enterprise Architecture incorporates both ‘synthesis’ and the ‘analytical’ process in understanding and describing the enterprise. The analytical reductionism, pans out all the linear ‘uow/s’. While the synthesis brings all those ‘uow/s’ into a process, that most times exists as a fuzzy network (non-linear and non-hierarchy) such that the enterprise can forge into the market competitively.

With all this said, by careful planning self sustaining and profitable IT ecosystem can be built within US by investing in townships and IT infrastructure that takes advantage of the economics of scale. There are lot of towns in US that offers lower cost of living and also very pleasant country side amenities. Such town-ships can be planned to arrest the Gaussian distribution which has riddled the present system resulting into fragmentation.

Economic model is not a snap shot but a process that works continuously to render the overall macro-balance sheet healthy. Please refer link to gain an insight on budget lead Enterprise Architecture Transition Planning Framework.

Link below discusses the possible newer ways of studying enterprise fiscal behaviors when subjected to heterogenous market agents.

Case Study – Strategy & Enterprise Architecture

Strategy Game  

By Srinidhi Boray

Enterprise Engineering & few fundamentals to ponder about : –  


Definition of EA as a subject? (is it management, or economics, or sociology, or psychology, information technology, is it any one of these or all of them working together choreographed by chaos, or the management’s whim, or the market forces). What really is this dicey animal !?Where do the following elements fit in the larger EA space :


  • Structure
  • Behavior
  • Canonical View,
  • “Single Version of Truth”
  • Strategy
  • Capabilities
  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Features
  •  Requirements
  • Specifications



There are many definitions for EA. Almost all  the attempts from the IT folks renders the boundary of the EA quite narrow and it tends to become IT centric. The original vision for EA was to encompass the broadest sense, while making the best attempt in capturing the descriptive details of an enterprise existing as a magnificent juggernaut. 


Try asking several who have worked at the same company for several years to describe the company they work for. Each one of them will come up with their own description as the picture conjured in their mind. None of them will have a common definition. In some abstraction they all are attempting to define the single truth. But when the description is broken down into details, then each will come up with a model that suits best to the picture that they carry in their mind. Is this wrong? And, should one attempt a ‘canonical’ view, a term quite favorite to IT folks. At the highest and the broadest sense, a single version of truth necessarily does not mean a canonical view. But when dealing with information engineering within the information architecture cross section, then canonical view is certainly a notion to work on to achieve a unified enterprise wide information framework. 


As an exercise, or for an excellent case study, you can read the document at the following link published by SEC. This is their 2004 to 2009 Strategic Plan.


Very good document to explore from EA perspective, although as an EA one might not find it to be structured accurately. That is the job of the EA anyway to ‘structure’, while understanding who has written this – Is it CEO, CIO or CTO. Obviosly it is not CTO or CIO. Also questions you will ask are: Does this document deal with the strategic plan or it is really dealing with tactical requirement? Then it could be ‘strategy’ in this document is a tautology issue. If not, then from management perspective what really is a ‘strategy’ and how is it different from ‘tactical’ efforts that improves the overall performance or the organizational effectiveness. Which disposes an enterprise uniquely, is it strategy or tactics? Refer Michael Porter on ‘what is strategy’. Structurally where does ‘strategy’ lie and where should ‘tactics’ exist. Is strategy from EA framework perspective, concept, context or logical? Can ‘tactic’ lie in the same space as ‘strategy’, if not then where should it be. What values are the thoughts like these adding to EA. 

“What is Strategy?”    


Michael E. Porter     Harvard Business Review, November-December 1996.Today’s dynamic markets and technologies have called into question the sustainability of competitive advantage. Under pressure to improve productivity, quality, and speed, managers have embraced tools such as TQM, benchmarking, and reengineering. Dramatic operational improvements have resulted, but rarely have these gains translated into sustainable profitability. And gradually, the tools have taken the place of strategy. As managers push to improve on all fronts, they move further away from viable competitive positions. Michael Porter argues that operational effectiveness, although necessary to superior performance, is not sufficient, because its techniques are easy to imitate. In contrast, the essence of strategy is choosing a unique and valuable position rooted in systems of activities that are much more difficult to match.Order article at Harvard Business Online


Ram Charan’s Lecture 


Why is it crucial to know how to link Strategy to Tactical Execution (Most Failures occur here)

And, render Governance via a ‘social system’ as a productive unit of work. 



Now after gaining some clarity on ‘strategy’ what are the thoughts running in the mind, presumed that it is wearing the EA hat . (its always piqued at its tip 🙂 ) I guess some like these :- The overall entropy. The overall system dynamics. What SEC does to secure stability in the market. The types of financial derivatives exists in the market. How market trade different products. What Fed does to ensure market stability. How policies are made and why? How are they operationalized.  How can the various behaviors be better described and understood. Why did the market fail despite all the systems in place. Why did ‘randomness’ or speculation become the dominant behavior. What is a Systemic Fault and how did it manifest. What role does EA play in understanding all these?


Corporates – Vesting Power In Mideocrity Often Times Results into Lucifer Effect, popularly called Prisoner’s Dilemma.

The Lucifer  Effect

May be ‘One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ is a better title – Anyway this revolves around the subject dealing with Middle Management Mediocrity. We often accuse higher management for failures. In reality as much damanage is also done by the insidious middle management. Yes, insidious is not a stonger word for them.

Conformism has a potential of introducing Systemic Faults: The imposed cultural conformism, that fraught most large organizations, is one of the main factor impeding the creative capacities from emerging within individuals. Collective conformism, a bell curve behavior, stifles individual creativity and also the individual value system, however noble it is in its virtue. Although EA is most talked about subject these days, the failures in EA are very high. Why? Because the imposed collective conformism has promoted a collective mediocre behavior. There are numerous failed examples both in Government and in the Private sector. The burnt of the failures are borne by the innocent citizens both while funding them through through their wasted tax dollars and in the end being deprived of the benefits that the failed projects intended to deliver.

Individualism, a creative streak should not be confused with the individualistic trait, which is one of the result of the self-centric loathsome behavior (self-grandiosment) . In contrast, Individualism, is a process of self actualization, that gets instilled in one through the process of individuation (, which is a hallmark evolutionary process for any creative individual traversing the road less travelled. Especially true for any artist as-well as architects. All true artists strive, many in vain and few who succeed, to deliberate  and create their dormant talent. They strive against all strife to forge together many undifferentiated skills and emerge as a holistic disciplined individual. When people collaborate, they trade each others indivisible whole, while not compromising their own indivisible self. This proves to be an alchemy for the group as a whole. Unfortunately today by and large we have become dysfunctional by choosing conformism for that has provided quick short term returns and have  become deaf to our own inner callings. Although institutions have many systemic advantages to offer (For instance, government driven health insurance has a better promise for more affordable products, by bringing down the overhead cost by a large percentage) there is a flip side to the systems –  conformism. These lead to systemic faults. Classic examples are the Educational institutions,  especially those pandering to corporate. These supposedly the paragons of virtues have been rendered into factories that churn out conformists, in who genuine inquiry remains forever stifled.

The subject of conformism is dealt in the ‘Lucifer Effect’, by Philip Zimbardo, demonstrated in the Stanford Prison Experiment.

Christopher Alexander – Father of Pattern Language – Generative Pattern Key to Emergence

Discussion on Why Emphasis on ‘Problem Domain’ or ‘Requirement Management’ is very important in EA – Contextualization

Quality (Extract)

Alexander’s central premise, driving over thirty years of thoughts, actions, and writings, is that there is something fundamentally wrong with twentieth century architectural design methods and practices. In Notes, Alexander illustrates failures in the sensitivity of contemporary methods to the actual requirements and conditions surrounding their development. He argues that contemporary methods fail to generate products that satisfy the true requirements placed upon them by individuals and society, and fail to meet the real demands of real users, and ultimately fail in the basic requirement that design and engineering improve the human condition. Problems include:

  • Inability to balance individual, group, societal, and ecological needs.
  • Lack of purpose, order, and human scale.
  • Aesthetic and functional failure in adapting to local physical and social environments.
  • Development of materials and standardized components that are ill suited for use in any specific application.
  • Creation of artifacts that people do not like.

Timeless continues this theme, opening with phenomenologically toned essays on “the quality without a name”, the possession of which is the ultimate goal of any design product. It is impossible to briefly summarize this. Alexander presents a number of partial synonyms: freedom, life, wholeness, comfortability, and harmony. But no single term or example fully conveys meaning or captures the force of Alexander’s writings on the reader, especially surrounding the human impact of design, the feelings and aesthetics of designers and users, the need for commitment by developers to obtain and preserve wholeness, and its basis in the objective equilibrium of form. Alexander has been working for the past twelve years on a follow-up book, The Nature of Order, devoted solely to this topic (see [29,9]). 

On Generative Pattern – Discussion By Christopher Alexander

Patterns of Nature

Emergent Pattern

(How random events become recursive over time resulting into structured pattern formations. Another architectural paradox – ‘randomness’ and ‘pattern’.)

Enterprise Architecture, society, organization – transition – transformation – technology



life out of balance – Reggio’s debut as a film director and producer, is the first film of the QATSI trilogy. The title is a Hopi Indian word meaning “life out of balance.” Created between 1975 and 1982, the film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds — urban life and technology versus the environment of balance


life in transformation – POWAQQATSI’s (Hopi Indian word for Transformation) overall focus is on natives of the Third World — the emerging, land-based cultures of Asia, India, Africa, the Middle East and South America — and how they express themselves through work and traditions. What it has to say about these cultures is an eyeful and then some, sculpted to allow for varied interpretations.


llife as war  – More important than empires, more powerful than world religions, more decisive than great battles, more impactful than cataclysmic earth changes, NAQOYQATSI chronicles the most significant event of the last five thousand years: the transition from the natural milieu, old nature, to the “new” nature, the technological milieu.