I think that everyone agrees that an EA program must have top-down support for any hope of achieving the valued outcomes possible when EA is done right in the organizational context in which it operates. So, what is “top-down support” and how does one get and sustain it? Let me start with a counterintuitive example: The Open Group, which owns and manages several architecture-related standards (including TOGAF and ArchiMate), lacks an Ambassador/Evangelist for architecture on its staff. Therefore, its own maturity in terms of EA capability and services is greatly stunted and will remain so until it gets on board with the truism that “top-down support” is a must. Without architecture leadership and an associated sense of urgency, even The Open Group, with all its potential based on the intellectual property created by the large community of volunteers, will not be able to leverage EA optimally in its own operations, much less spearhead EA growth and maturity around the world.
Let’s take a look at U.S. Federal government organizations for a moment. EA is mandated by law and supporting policies for all government agencies. However, without accountability to anyone at the higher levels of the Executive Branch, many agencies are not actively pursuing EA programs or are not allowing it to be the integration platform that it must intrinsically be in order to manifest EA. In other words, an EA program may exist in theory and someone may have the responsibility for it, but too often the ones charged with carrying it out don’t even understand it, much less champion and nurture it. As a result, the supposed EA work is narrowed down to exercises such as just be cataloging app inventories, while other parts of the organization are dealing in siloed ways with decisions about investments, modernization, and governance. EA should be the engine providing, through its leadership in collaboration and integration, better-informed decisions faster tied to valued outcomes.
Why does it so often happen that EA fails to get traction in organizations when, if led and done well, it can make such dramatic contributions? Again, the “top-down” factor is generally the missing piece. In order to truly champion EA and architecture overall, the person responsible for it must have their own “top-down” support for this role and then provide the strong leadership essential to get it established and then to allow it to flourish. This requires belief in EA and a sense of urgency to get it going and increasingly embedded where it needs to be to bring the value this discipline can bring, if done well.
EA leaders must understand that EA needs both method and modeling and they must ensure their EA team is fully checked out on both early on. I think, for example, combined TOGAF and ArchiMate classes are ideal for an efficient transfer of the knowledge needed to set up and mature EA itself while contributing to any initiative in the organization. In other words, the general formula is to, for example, train the EA team in an EA Framework (ideally TOGAF, but with an integrated understanding of how it compares to and can leverage other EA frameworks). Too seldom, organizations train their teams in an EA modeling language, with ArchiMate being the best choice, in my view.
However, I recommend pursuing private, tailored classes that weave together TOGAF and ArchiMate over a 5-day period to get things rolling. In addition, I strongly recommend a follow-on, private, tailored, combined TOGAF/ArchiMate course at the practitioner/applied level for another 4-5 days, and that this be done with a month of the foundational course. Enlightened leadership is necessary to move in this direction, but if done, there is room to be optimistic about promoting EA more aggressively in your organizations, of providing the “top-down” evangelism and support that EA needs to be successful in helping others to prosper.
Authored by Dr. Steve Else, Chief Architect & Principal Instructor