Recently, Tim Westbrock asked, in his blog, if we should drop the term “Enterprise Architecture” when referring to the strategic business planning perspective within the EA role. 

“The question that I will leave you all with is this:  Can EA be successfully evolved to become a tool of business strategic planners, senior executives and boards of directors if we continue to call it Enterprise Architecture?”

To which Adrian Campbell replied, in his blog, that EA shouldn’t change its name.  Instead, Enterprise IT Architects (the term he applies to technical architects) should stop calling themselves Enterprise Architects.  Adrian argues:

“I would say that there has always been a difference between Enterprise Architecture and technical architecture.

The former has its origins in the Zachman Framework which has always included the business architecture aspects.

Technical architecture has evolved to become IT architecture and IT planning.”

Adrian is a smart guy.  He frequently conveys interesting and insightful viewpoints based in deep experience.  Unfortunately, he is rewriting history a little bit.  John Zachman was part of a team that developed the entire idea of Enterprise Architecture for the expressed purpose of aligning technology to business process, as a service offering that could be provided by IBM to allow their consultants to be more valuable to their business clients.

In other words, John Zachman invented a taxonomic framework useful for both Enterprise IT Architecture and Enterprise Business Architecture.  They are both in there. So using John Zachman as an argument why “upstart” IT Architects shouldn’t evolve into Enterprise Architects is an argument that is ill-informed at best. 

Other professions don’t change their names when they mature.  They create professional organizations, create standards, train practitioners, and police their own ranks.  Physicians of old are not physicians of today.  Engineers of old are not engineers of today.  Pharmacists of old are not pharmacists of today.  Professions change and grow. 

One thing that we do see as professions grow up: specialization.  Within the profession of medicine, we have seen a proliferation of literally hundreds of specialties.  A pediatric oncologist would not say that a cardiologist is somehow “not” a doctor! 

If it is a ‘problem’ that folks who work in one area of the Zachman framework have become aware of another area, and that is driving a desire to change the name, does that solve the problem?  Adrian finishes his post with “A sheep in wolf’s clothing is still a sheep.”  So if the wolf changes it’s name to “zebra”, won’t the sheep claim that it’s a zebra?  The entire debate seems silly, and a little xenophobic.

As we grow, as Enterprise Architecture develops, we need to provide for the possibility that many specialties can exist in the same profession.  One specialty will explore the art and science of developing business architecture.  Another will explore IT alignment in funding and planning, and another will explore technical architectures for IT systems.  More may appear.

Our frameworks are big enough to handle many specialties.  The question is: are our hearts?