Circa 2015 I attended a Gartner conference where the Chief Architect from an insurance company presented how he set up and then had been managing a program that Gartner recognized as one of the best it had reviewed. Interestingly enough, he noted he used the Zachman Framework, which is not even an EA Framework, but rather a schema. Also, at the end of the talk, because he had never mentioned the role of visualization in his practice, someone asked. His answer was "Microsoft PowerPoint," which was rather startling. Maybe most in the audience of about 100 EA/IT professionals would not have been as surprised if he had said Microsoft Visio, which is still the most likely default for most Enterprise Architects lacking a modeling vs. diagramming tool, although LucidChart and draw.io also become preferred alternatives to Visio in many circles, especially since they are often used in education. 
 
Despite that one surprise, I would not have expected that Chief Architect to have mentioned Archi, the free tool that supports the ArchiMate EA modeling language and which, with GitHub, can help most EA programs in their initial year to become much more sophisticated in at least understand the potential value of modeling vs. diagramming (modeling offers the potential for tool-enabled impact and what if analysis, as well as stronger reusability). In the past 5 years, in fact, even other more complex EA tools have often incorporated ArchiMate into their tools as the EA language. That noted, there is also a Visio stencil for ArchiMate and it is a choice in draw.io. EA Principals offers a few different ArchiMate training classes, including a unique short and longer one on how to use ArchiMate with Archi and Github.
 
Enterprise Architects in 2020 have the opportunity to contribute more than ever to the discussion and decision making related to major technological investments,  innovation, digitization, and Digital Transformation, especially tied to the concepts of capabilities and valued outcomes. Unfortunately, there are still great shortfalls in how to evolve Enterprise Architects in terms of both mature methods and visualization, both tied to the core capability of abstraction, so central to what any kind of architect should be expected to deliver. In addition, in an increasingly complex world,  strategic and tactical scenario planning, agility in execution of work packages en route to the targeted, and managing in the sense of an ecosystem rather than just an enterprise -- all elements of one of the EA's most important core competency, communication and visualization skills are probably more important than ever.
 
There are so many things to distract EAs in terms of visualization choices. For this reason, a foundational knowledge in ArchiMate is one of our strongest recommendations, along with a good understanding of how to leverage and customize elements of leading architecture-related frameworks/approaches. I have been involved with helping to plan major organizational transformations for over 25 years. I only wish that when I first engaged on such initiatives in 1995 that I had the knowledge of frameworks and modeling that I have gained in the last 15 years. 
 
Put simply, let EA Principals help you on your customized EA journeys in the most efficient and holistic way, so you can tackle change in increasingly mature and effective ways -- the challenges are only becoming more daunting; don't be satisfied with knowledge gained more than 20 years ago -- it is probably time for many EAs and IT professionals to embrace better mastering of at least the basics of frameworks/approaches and systematic modeling.
 
Authored by Dr. Steve Else, Chief Architect & Principal Instructor
 

 

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