Enterprise Architects Must Master Both Core and Explore

Enterprise Architects Must Master Both Core and Explore

As enterprise architects, we are always facing a two-logics situation.

On one hand, we want to and need to understand, and as best we can, manage, the core of our enterprise. As our friend John Zachman famously said: “Someday, you’re going to wish you had all those models, enterprise-wide, horizontally and vertically integrated, at an excruciating level of detail.” This quote has been misunderstood and used against us enterprise architects for as long as I remember. True, we enterprise architects find value in integrated models, and are probably more insisting on Conant-Ashby theorem which states that “every good regulator of a system must have a model of the system” than many other people are. But we know that the models give us a powerful capability to accommodate extreme complexity and extreme rates of change.

On the other hand, and exactly because of the more and more extreme complexity and rates of change all enterprises are facing, we as enterprise architects must become better and better at being explorers and innovators. This is not really new to most of us – it has always been a key competency for enterprise architects to envision future-state, target architectures, and to build solid roadmaps that take the enterprise from its current-state (“as-is”) to its future-state (“to-be”).

In fact, what is needed is for enterprises to create an interface between these two contradictory logics – the core and explore, the short term and long term, the known markets and unknown, emerging ones.

The key people who take on this interfacing role are called corporate explorers. These can be enterprise architects or others who take on a leadership role of exploring where the enterprise can boldly go into whole new ventures.