ram charan

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 http://www.sec.gov/about/secstratplan0409.pdf) 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?