Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Theory of EA?

It was with great interest that I read Nick Malik’s recent post “Moving Towards a Theory of Enterprise Architecture” and the response from Tom Graves “Theory and metatheory in enterprise-architecture”. Whilst I generally don’t respond to blogs I thought that the questions and considerations raised by both of these erudite gentlemen raised enough questions in my mind that I thought I should contribute. Whether that contribution is worthwhile is for others to decide.

First some background to my post. Around 12 years ago I set out on an academic journey to better understand the emerging concept of Enterprise Architecture. At that time there was very little material available in either the academic or professional practice sphere to assist in understanding this evolving ICT centric practice. Many organisations had established EA practices in the hope that EA could help unravel the maze of organisational information systems to better understand how they contributed to the evolving mission of the enterprise. Gartner had developed some material around capability maturity in EA which helped EA practitioners to better assess the outcomes of the practice.  
From that foundation, I set out to understand the concept of an EA. In order to focus my work, I turned the lens of my limited understanding onto the equally poorly understood world of emergency management. I established a framework for analysing the operation of an emergency management team. Whilst there is an adhoc element to these teams (specialists are assembled to address specific types of emergencies) many agencies have a permanent cadre of staff who are responsible for maintaining core skills and situational awareness in their sphere of responsibility.

As I met with these core staff, and worked as a member of adhoc emergency management teams I naively assumed that the problems they faced were addressable through the application of technology. I believed that we technologists had only to find/develop the right tools, implement them and be hailed as the “saviours of the emergency management world”.  How wrong I was!

I was lucky enough however, that enough people took an interest in what I was doing to provide me with opportunities to examine emergency management teams in a range of different environments. That included participation in a very large multi-agency disaster exercise in California. At that exercise I was lucky enough to spend time with Alenka Brown (then of Oak Ridge) who gave me a different lens to look at the emergency management world, and particularly the human component of emergency management teams.  I took this lens and used it to evaluate my work to date. In addition I was engaged to look at the design of a permanent police operations centre. The following model sums up what I came to understand about these critical incident management environments:

Now this discussion is not intended to be a discussion about emergency management. However, the case study highlights my fundamental problem with seeking to establish a “theory of EA”.
At this point it is important to understand that I differentiate between the solution architects – the folks who fill in the detail and work out the process and technologies that an enterprise need to put in place to enact the goals of an enterprise – and the EA. The solution architects have a rapidly evolving body of tools and methods to assist them in delivery of their design artefacts.

The EA is a different skillset. I agree with the comments by Doug McDavid where he lists a huge body of work by a range of practitioners. The EA, operating in James Lapalme’s third school of EA,  is someone who has to understand a very large body of knowledge. On top of all the technical, systems and human skills, the EA needs to have a more than nodding acquaintance with economics and accounting in order to have any credibility in shaping a modern enterprise. In many ways a third school EA must be a polymath.

My own work took an interesting turn when I started to work with construction architects to design facilities to support emergency management teams. I had to learn a whole new language. In effect I entered a new two year apprenticeship to understand construction and its language. I had to develop new tools and adapt my thinking to link the development of my design artefacts with those of the construction sciences.  So I could understand these relationships I developed the following model:

Note that the model is NOT a theory. Rather it is a means to express the relationship between the design artefacts which conveys to members of both the ICT and construction disciples as well as the stakeholders in the design of the new facility. This model is currently being used to design a world leading cancer research and treatment hospital where technology, process and the design of the facility will all contribute to the achievement of the aspirations of the community with respect to cancer treatment and research.

Using this model I could adapt a pallet of tools based on the use of Archimate 2 and BPMN to design this facility. I therefore have a school of thinking (Lapalme’s third school), which allows me to drive a philosophy of design which is engaged with construction design, and provides me with a language to engage with all of the stakeholders using a derivative based on a standard ICT architecture toolsets.

Like the world of construction architecture, the world of the EA is about principles of design. The construction architect does not talk about a theory of architecture, instead they talk about schools of thought – and those schools of thought provide a pallet of tools from which they can select a method of design. Construction architects translate human aspiration into artefacts which express that aspiration. In the same way, I believe, after twelve years of academic work combined with professional practice, that it is the role of the EA to express the aspirations of the enterprise through the artefacts developed. Artefacts which encapsulate people, processes and technology to coevolve the enterprise with its environment, both internal and external. Have I met such an EA yet – the resounding answer is NO.

Is such a skill needed? Noting Jamshid Gharajedaghi’s comments about the failure of Dow Jones listed enterprises at the start of his book on Systems Thinking – I believe that the creation of enterprises which can co-evolve with their environment necessitates the development of an EA role. However – that is NOT an ICT role.

So what have I learned in this 12 year journey?
  1. I do not think there can be a definitive "theory of EA"
  2. We need to break the shackles that still link EA to the ICT world. Thankfully this is starting to occur. However we need to further develop the tools and techniques to enhance the ability of the EA to speak across many disciplines. Archimate 2 has tried to do this but we still have a long way to go.
  3. The implications of the third school of EA mean that the EA must be able to understand and apply a wide pallet of tools and a range of technical languages which allows the EA to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and disciplines.
  4. An EA is a designer. In order to understand how an EA should operate within the practice, we need to look at the design disciplines and the thinking of the truly innovative in those disciplines - people like Philippe Starck and Steve Jobs. Such people do not look for a body of theory to support their design. Instead they understand what it means to be huiman and then design artefacts which express the aspirations which derive from being human.
 Anyway – that is what I think. And for the record – I failed to deliver my final dissertation. There is a stubborn determination in academia to use the scientific research method to develop a body of work which encapsulates some element of a body of thought – in effect to create the theory and then test it. EA is evolving too quickly for academic timeframes to work. And this is the core of the problem I have with the proposition that a “Theory of EA” can be developed. EA has to move quickly if we are to ensure the future survival of the enterprises with which we work.

In my own work I have visited many hospitals which have been designed in a way which does not allow them to coevolve with rapidly evolving medical technologies. Consequently the urban landscape is dotted with hospitals that become basic care facilities but cannot provide treatment or care based on new technologies. But that is a whole separate conversation!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Deliberate Design and Sustainability

It's been a long time since I wrote anything but finally the time has come for me to share some of my thoughts - even if only with myself.

This morning I spent time clearing a lot of small eucalypt saplings from the face of my holding dam at the top of the property. As I did so I was struck by the fact that, for many in the sustainability movement, what I was doing was just a little short of a crime against nature. For them, the reversion of farmland to native bushland represents the ultimate outcome of their movement. Little consideration is given to balancing the "rehabilitation" of the environment with the needs of human development. The only outcome acceptable is environment first.

A similarly extreme position was expressed by an evangelistic young lady who spoke before me at Zeitgeist 2011 in Melbourne. She declared that there was a need to end the misery of farming animals who all know that their life will end in an abbatoir and therefore live their entire existence in misery. This was to be achieved by all becoming vegans. At the same time we would save the planet by reducing the number of cows farting.

Both cases avow a position which is based on very little consideration of either human development and/or scientific development.

Ever since Galileo and Copernicus challenged the entrenched ideas of medieval Europe, science and engineering have worked hard to both better the human condition and reduce superstition and misinformation through the advancement of science. Principles such as falsification and paradigm shifts in human thinking are entrenched in our way of life. I wonder, then, how it is that misinformed, poorly thought out statements are put forward as fact on the basis that they resonate somehow with human superstition. Or is it just laziness? Is it that our comfort level as a society has reached the point where the modern versions of the "bread and blood" of the Colosseum is far more palatable than the exercise of human thinking and logic?

Enough of the stone throwing!

Thinking about the management of the landscape led me to ponder the concept of "deliberate design" and its role in shaping the future state of both the environment and the ongoing evolution of the species known as Homo Sapien Sapien. In the heart of my little farm is around 6 or 7 acres of open red gum / grey box woodland. Some of the trees in this area are very old indeed. We have decided that the preservation of this small sanctuary is one of our responsibilities as the caretakers of this land for the next twenty years or so.

So does that mean that we let nature simply take its own course. I do not believe that to be the case or the best way to ensure the future of the woodland. The answer - I believe - is in the concept of deliberate design. This woodland should be subject to an ongoing balance between maintenance of a sanctuary and management of the resources within it. At the same time, management needs to consider the most precious resource in the landscape - water.

This region of Australia is subject to significant challenges with respect to the management of and distribution of water. My property sources its resource, at this time, from a very old agricultural channel system.  I am told that eventually this will be replaced with a system of closed pipes, however the project is bogged down in the Victorian Government. For the moment, the maintenance of the water distribution and storage system is critical. The removal of the saplings I spoke about in the beginning of this blog is part of that maintenance process. And as for the woodland - ongoing management and use of the resources is, in my opinion the best way to manage the resource. And the methodology for all of this is the application of principles of "deliberate design".

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Transpersonal Psychology and the Hero's Journey

Each of us are a product of our life experiences, the things that we are taught as children, the beliefs we have etc. Together these forces combine to create, for each of us, our way of viewing the world. This view of the world has a deep impact on the way that we live and in particular with how we process the stimuli that are fed to us every moment of our life to create knowledge within ourselves.

For ancient man, religion played a deep and abiding part in the construct of our world view. However, since the renaissance started to peel back the veneer of religion and allow us to understand the world around us, man has increasingly shed the beliefs of our ancestors leaving us bereft of many of the traditional rituals that allowed us to find our place in life and the universe.

Traditionally belief and ritual have played important roles in providing a basis for how we lived our lives. Religion, and more specifically the concept of God provided for us an epistomological putty that filled in anything we didn’t understand (why does the storms destroy my crops – ah it must be the wrath of God for my failing to remove that neighbor who doesn’t share my absolute knowledge of the truth – therefore if I don’t want to lose my crops next year I better get rid of that neighbor, or at least convert him to my ways that he may know the truth too). Ritual provided for us a way to undertake those key transformative journeys that marked the passage of key milestones in life.

Today so much of the epistemological putty has been prised out and filled in with scientific knowledge and understanding that we find God committed to being the God of the fringes. At the same time we have ceased to observe many of those key rituals and as a consequence we are left without a process for marking transition in our lives, and no belief framework in which to place ourselves and give us a yardstick against which to measure our actions.

Yet for many, the beliefs of the past are still an integral part of existence, even though the body of scientific fact has destroyed the basis for those beliefs (for example we once knew that we were the entire purpose of Gods creation and sat at the centre of the universe- today we know that we live on an insignificant planet in an insignificant solar system on the edge of one of trillions of galaxies). Our centre has been removed.

Yet in the midst of that we still have to live and try to find some purpose or meaning to our existence. Without those key transformative rituals, for example, how does a young man grow up and take his place in society without experiencing significant difficulties in settling to the role that society would have him fill.

How then, can we transform ourselves and effectively take our place in society?

Several years ago I started on a piece of writing where I drew on the work of Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung and many others to look at the transpersonal journey that many take in the second half of life. This piece of work has been sitting unfinished as I tried to deal with my own transpersonal journey. I have now picked it back up and I am going to try and puull the threads together.
Given the volume to be discussed and the range of issues to be considered, it is somewhat beyond the scope of a blog based discussion. Instead I will undertake this piece of work in the form of a personal wiki.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sitting in a Chair and Looking in the Distance

All religions will pass, but this will remain, simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance. (V.V. Rosanov)

I open this blog with Rosanov’s thought, for that is what I would like to do in this entry – sit in my own chair, look in the distance, and tell you a little about the view from here. I wrote the first version of this blog for the Joseph Campbell Forum some three years ago. Since that time much has happened in the world which has reinforced my thoughts at that time. So I thought I would update this blog.

It is important to note that this is my view. I am not making a declarative statement that "this is the way it is", nor attempting to get the reader to agree with my world view. One of my strongest beliefs is in order to find our authentic selves as humans, it is important to find our own path.

And where is this chair placed?

Over on the Joseph Campbell Forum, a thread started in 2004 titled "Self-Induced Transformations[context defines]" (my user name in the forums is "sladeb"), I suggested that during the journey through the forest there are times when all travellers need to stop and take a break – to pause at an Inn along the way, look at our maps, determine what we have learned and try to discover a little about what lies ahead (noting that the traveller who follows a new path can only know in general terms about the beasts roaming the forest). So my chair is placed in the window of that Inn, and I look to the forest ahead, noting that behind me lay many lessons which help forge how I try to solve the challenges of the future.

In the existentialist tradition one philosopher to whom I most relate is Karl Jaspers, who, like me, discovered the joy of human philosophy in the second half of life. In his work Jaspers turned the discussion of philosophy back to the issues of life as it is lived and experienced by the individual in one’s own time. He did not suggest abandoning consideration of the history or inherited traditions of philosophy, but rather that "Our own power of generation lies in the rebirth of what has been handed down to us. If we do not wish to slip back, nothing must be forgotten; but if philosophizing is to be genuine our thoughts must arise from our own source" (Jaspers, 1941). It is in the context of our time and our challenges that we must consider the lessons of myth, metaphor and philosophy.

In my own journey through the forest in recent years, after passing through the battle with the dragon "Thou Shalt," I entered the cave which the dragon guarded. Within the cave I found many boons to be had, including lessons from the past, looking-glasses to help understand a little of the future, and crystal balls that dimmed the clouds of my own prejudices and beliefs enough to allow a glimpse of the world through the eyes of another. It was difficult at first to see what prize would be of most value. After a time I placed these treasures in the context of the current world need and then it became easy to see which gifts were the ones I was best equipped to bring back to society. I grasped these and left the rest for others to find.

It is not easy to describe this gem, but suffice to say it is a contribution that is needed in our time. I hope I can articulate a little what the treasure is at this pause on the path.

Moving from the personal to the collective, as I look out the window and gaze into the distance there are very large mountains looming ahead - mountains which mankind as a whole must cross. Unfortunately, some of these appear to be heights we have crossed before, which some world leaders appear to be suggesting we should visit again (for example, the resurgence of Cold War rhetoric and behaviour). Some of the mountains have been raised by the geological impact of our own human journey (environmental problems, sustainability, global food shortages) and some just seem too hard for humanity to cross so far (religious fundamentalism, for example).

The sad truth is that those most impacted by the struggle to cross these mountains are those least able to carry the burden and adapt to the difficulties inherent in traversing such dangerous peaks. Global food riots and street protests triggered by the high cost of basic commodities, drought, severe storms and a rising level of global conflict all point to the challenges we face. And it is in the light of these challenges that I selected the tools and boons I have taken from the cave.

The tools I've chosen are those which I can best employ to help others safely cross those looming mountains. Extending the metaphor, some are core tools - the pitons and ropes of short term aid and the lifeline of basic medicines - to assist the struggling climber. But the most powerful boon, which the dragon had hoarded for far too long, proved the crystal ball that allowed me to dim the clouds of my own prejudices and beliefs enough to glimpse the world through the eyes of a fellow traveller. The abandonment of my own rigid belief systems has let me understand that belief and prejudice cloud our judgement and colour our view of the world. It is difficult to get struggling fellow travellers to grasp the rope thrown, or hold tight to the piton, when they think that they must sacrifice their own beliefs in doing so.

And so, with these tools in my kitbag, I look to the distance and see the mountains. The course I chart is coupled to the tools and boons I carry. And, having taken up these tools, like Campbell I found that somehow doors do seem to open; by using those tools to help others I am living out of the center of my own bliss.

This is not to say that I can dictate how the tools are used by others. How they use them will be their own responsibility.

(This is an extremely poignant lesson I recently learned. We struggled to provide assistance to the people of Myanmar to help them recover from the recent devastating cyclone - but, for their leaders, political exigencies proved more important than the provision of real aid to sustain their own citizenry.)

So much for the journey ahead. What have I learned from the journey behind?

It is clear that the only way that the human species can solve the complex problems that lay before it is for each individual to realize the unique treasures that he or she can bring to our human challenges. We in the West have invented many things to avoid the potential abyss of a Godless existence. Yet, as Paul Tillich pointed out, it is the "deep questions" which constitute our ultimate concern as humans, and the way that we respond to these ultimate concerns is called religion.

I cannot help but come to the conclusion that what is needed is a religion that allows every person the right to explore and experience life in his or her own unique way. Furthermore, this experience should, for the sake of a holistic approach to the wonder of life, include experience of the sublime, the Spiritual.

Equipping individuals with the tools to look beyond the boundaries of commonly accepted practice and belief to find new solutions that lead us forward is key to overcoming some of the so called "intransigent problems" of society.

This, I believe is the key message which I draw from the ancient hero’s quest myths. If one chooses to move beyond the boundaries of conventional religion, pass the guardians and enter the realm of the quest, one can survive the journey, learn new lessons, gain boons and bring those boons back into society - gifts of knowledge that allow humanity to step forward. In this realm, human mythology is essential to the work of many psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers. An understanding of mythology is key to Jung’s process of individuation, to Maslow’s peak experience, and to Assagioli’s field of transpersonal psychology.

And yet that path through the forest is, ultimately, an individual journey ...

A religion of the Self?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Per Ardua Ad Astra (Through Struggle to the Stars)

Per Ardua Ad Astra is the phrase embedded in the crest of the Royal Australian Airforce. It translates to "Through Struggle to the Stars". This phrase has taken on significant meaning for me over the last 12 months. Those who know me will know that I have been working on my PhD thesis for the last six years. When I started that journey I was very pessimistic about the future of the human race - species homo sapien sapien.

As I have journeyed through my own voyage of discovery to develop my own philosophical body of work, I started out from the technology world of information systems developed for military and emergency service. From that launchpad I ventured into human psychology, human philosophy and thence into the realm of anthropology and human development. Throughout that process I developed an understanding of the human enterprise and its journey through the ages.

One of the key things I discovered was that, as a species, we are remarkably adaptive.

From our origins in Africa, the journey of the human enterprise has been punctuated by periods of significant advancement - events that changed the game for our species. It has also been punctuated by events that had the potential to render our species extinct. But through all those events, we learned to adapt, to evolve, to develop new skills and to triumph against adversity.

It is true as a species that we face some challenges that have the potential, yet again, to, at the very least, destroy the functions of human civilization. Perhaps even to render our species extinct. Yet we have this capacity to adapt that means I am optimistic about our capacity to not only survive, but as a result of challenge to adapt and evolve further. To emerge wiser and ready to continue our journey to the stars - for that is where our future lies.

As we ponder how to adapt to the challenges of climate change, of the development of a global society and ethic, lets also stand on this world and think about reaching out to the next one.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Maslow and Marketing

This blog was generated in response to a blog by Alison Macleod ( in which she noted that a UK based organisation was using Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to divide the UK population based on their values (I assume as drawn from Maslow's work).

I partially concur with the views expressed by Alison regarding simplistic use of Maslow's work. However I do not agree with the following comments:

 "there’s really no evidence for his hierarchy.  Yes, it’s a useful sketch of motivation, and a very pretty pyramid, but there is no evidence that you can account for real people’s behaviour by invoking any part of it apart from the part about people requiring food and water."

If one were to view the pyramid in isolation as most do, then it may appear simplistic. It is very easy to dismiss images like this as "pretty pyramids" but in reality there is a deep basis for this work. If one is to take a position on this particular image, then there is a lot of reading to do. Maslow arrived at this representation of a portion of his work following long and deep research and the collection of large amounts of data.

If we are to to understand the image then we need to read the surrounding body of work. And then follow the reference sources. Such a journey will lead the individual to read Jung and Frankl (he notes the triumph of the human spirit even through the miseries of his own experience of Dachau)  and Freud, then through a journey of human thinking which will incorporate the thoughts of the Buddha and Christ  and many other thinkers. One would journey through the legend of the grail and many other great legends which conveyed human aspiration.

The work of Maslow tried to capture the essence of the human aspiration for something higher. The pyramid was a small part of that work. Marketers and motivators who use the pyramid to support things like dividing humans up into value driven sets are using the tool in a way for which it was never intended to be used.

But then that would assume that marketers and motivators actually have the motivation to read more than what is on wikipedia.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Human Experience

I have been pondering what it means to be human and the role of religion and spirituality in the human journey. I think that we have, over the last 50 years or so tried too hard to deny the human spiritual experience.

I would like to place before you another way of looking at this question. There is an all too frequent tendency in many of us to stand outside and cast stones through the stained glass windows of other people's belief systems. Whilst it is true, for example, that the Catholic church has left itself open to ridicule and contempt as a result of the behaviours of a few, it is important to remember that it is just that - the behaviour of a few. In any human collective there will always be those who abuse their positions. In my own life I have witnessed abuses of power by those who seemed to be more concerned with the visible trappings of their own sense of self importance than they are with the needs of those for whom they had a responsibility and duty of care.

The founder of the Mormon faith recorded the view that
"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion"

Enough said...

For myself, I find a great deal of value in the words of the sufi mystic Ibn Arabi "the colour of the water is the colour of the receptacle".

In all of the variety of religious experience there are gems that somehow resonate with a part of who we are as humans. Now I have no experimental basis on which to prove this is so, but I suspect that in the deeper parts of our unconscious (perhaps even down in Jungs Collective Unconscious) there is something that resonates with us and, for a moment, can draw us out of the mundane and remind us that our very existence is a miracle. The very fact that we can think about the fact that we think and ponder why the universe is and why, in all the infinite range of potential outcomes that the universe could throw up, it threw up consciousness and for a moment certain experiences can open something in us that senses awe.

For those whose heritage is of the West, if you ever get the opportunity to sit through a Catholic sung High Mass, seize it. And for a moment set aside any preexisting notions and prejudices and just try and sense the connection with the heritage of our western collective unconscious. Feel for a moment the mystery again.

In my own life's journey I have learned that in all spiritual experience there is something that resonates in us. Perhaps it is the shadows of our ancestors as they looked up at the stars from the plains of Africa and first began to wonder what life was about that resonates within us. Have you ever wondered what it was that first evoked that sense of awe. We know that as the jungle receded in Africa, our earliest ancestors had to adapt to life on the open plains. Perhaps (and this is pure conjecture on my part) they one night looked up and saw the stars and actually wondered... or perhaps it was a wondering on what happened when a member of the tribe died. But whatever it was, it opened up in us a sense of wondering, and from wonder to awe and thus the human journey took a significant step forward.

Unfortunately in our post-modern scientific world we have tried to bury this sense of awe. We have dared to suggest that because it could not be measured or quantified that his fundamental part of our human experience should be forever denied. I think that determination to bury so much of the human experience has reached it's crescendo in the attacks on the non quantifiable parts of the human experience embodied in works such as the God Delusion.

Awe and wonder lift us out of the mire of the daily human battle to exist. Awe and wonder transform mere existence into the wonder of life and love places a reason in our hearts to continue the journey.

Whether a certain religous view is right or wrong is irrelevant if within the maze of the religious experience an individual can for a moment sense awe and wonder. This is, in my humble opinion the core of the religious experience.