Invention (Innovation) Not Strategy Creates Renaissance – Moving from Darwinian Adaptive to Generative Transformation

Invention (Innovation), Not Strategy Creates Renaissance. Most Darwinian concepts does not engender to developing creativity, and so to innovation. Instead it is about strategy for developing dominant position, this is not a sustainable model as history has shown. Instead, Enterprise Architects should begin reinforcing energy into lost opportunities in innovation and explore to create newer territories.

In the recent times, we saw the fall of Michael Porter’s ideas around corporate Darwinism. His company during the past two decades influenced the CEO’s with trickle down ideas and C level were enamoured by it, as it helped them device system giving them enormous clout. Suddenly the landscape has changed, the market response has been very different, from what the CEO’s sought. This is because Darwinian theory does not sustain. Inorganic decisions are not working. From recent HP’s fiasco (Autonomy acquisition), it is much evident how corporates are massively faltering. Decade back, Carly Fiorina then HP’s CEO sought EA framework based on Darwinian adaptive principles as a way to achieve business enablement. It has not worked. It is now exactly a decade since she introduced. Theories developed on Darwinian dominance has been flawed and it is now much evident. Porter’s company recently declared bankruptcy. Those ideas are history.

What killed Michael Porter’s Monitor Group

Check out interview with Carly’s Darwin EA framework to create adaptive capabilities.

Based on flawed ideas, corporates employed resources targeting to achieve market dominating capabilities. Against this landscape, IT unfortunately has been delivering diminishing return. To overcome the value struggle that IT could offer, various schemes in the industry has been probed. Especially, TOGAF itself has been maturing to develop dialogue for IT from being across LOB service provider, cost to profit center, to more ambitious as business enabler. The argument of Nicholas Carr’s IT Does Not Matter when seemed almost true, ideas around creating EA driven strategic operating model emerged. Jeanne Ross book on EA as Strategy – Achieve Competitive Advantage

These ideas are getting outmoded. The essence of creating sustainable business model is to keep throttle on innovation. Challenges still remain to solve or probably discover newer opportunities by innovation that creates generative system, which intrinsically allows for emergence.

Check out Jeanne Ross discussion on EA – IT in context of business transformation

MIT’s Ross on How Enterprise Architecture and IT More Than Ever Lead to Business Transformation

In my mind, even Jeanne dwells on conventional wisdom. She is not discovering newer landscape. She discuses to improve the leverage to achieve strategy for transformation. The question is why/ which / what / where/ when strategy and how transformation and finally what outcome??

Dealing with thoughts like these, EA is not a domain of IT alone. EA is an integrative subject that brings together several disciplines to solve both macro systemic and micro functional concerns. EA can be used to reimagine and repurpose architectures including those realized by IT.

Another concern that EA must tackle in its value proposition is the value it can help achieve at system level. The GDP related to digitization has been in the increase. However, what is not evident is the “productive” impact of the digitized portion of the GDP. Meaning what activities in the digitized world are essential to mankind’s survival, are productive GDP. Innovations are required in increasing the potential of the productive GDP driven by IT. This argument is crucial.

In my view, EA can offer a great leverage to reimagine future, besides achieving leverage in the existing operating model. In pursuit of such mission, EA does not belong to “IT” alone. What we need is generative and not mere adaptive transformation efforts. It is in generative system, where integrative disciplines will work to allow for tacit knowledge creation. It is this tacit knowledge that will trigger emergence of newer opportunities, creating emergent architecture.


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

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?