Through a discussion on LinkedIn, I ran across a rather goofy blog post titled (“EA does not matter”), an obvious riff on Nick Carr’s famous HBR article.  Unfortunately, while Nick Carr is a well established business and IT contributor, the author of the blog post, Martin Palmgren, seems to have been writing articles for an astounding two weeks before levying a false attack on Enterprise Architecture. 

Masked below his obvious contempt for “things he does not understand” is a fatal flaw: he is asking for a result that EA can provide!  Mr. Palmgren is clearly of the ITIL mindset: that well defined and delivered IT services can provide a solid mechanism for both governance and alignment.  As an Enterprise Architect, I agree.  Perhaps Mr. Palmgren thinks that EA is opposed to that idea?  I don’t know.

Regardless, he shows a remarkable lack of understanding of what Enterprise Architecture is and does.  With EA fully engaged, the business would be able to see the linkage between their business goals and the IT services that Mr. Palmgren obviously desires, and therefore would be free of the need to demonstrate the ROI of infrastructure.  (ever tried to prove the ROI of good plumbing systems in a restaurant?  IT service providers have the same problem.  EA can help).

To Mr. Palmgren and the others who radically misunderstand EA, I encourage you to reach out to actual practitioners to find out what this profession is about before you launch ill-informed attacks.  It’s a good way to avoid shooting at your allies.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

2 thoughts on “The difference between selling EA and performing EA”
  1. Hi Nick,

    I would agree to disagree.

    * Had you bothered to read the article, you would have appreciated the fact that what is an obvious reference to Nick Carr's article, and written in the same logic, that I point out the fact that EA can make a difference as "the business strategy is executed with effective processes (industrialised with IT when needed) and leveraged by a coherent IT Service Strategy"

    * If you are not able to provide ROI on investment with a clear business case then you are clearly not in the right profession. Not only can EA be delivered with a clear value proposition and a business case and ROI (on average in 30 days).

    * The next time you have an urge to shoot yourself in the foot maybe you could leave me out of it (thank you in advance).

    I have enclosed your article below for the EA community to apreciate your writing skills their full value! 

    NB. Would you mind if I use your "feedforward" on my modest effort to communicate to the CIO community (we tend to work with CIO's and IT directors of fortune 500's as an example of what "is killing EA" (that would be a reference to Zackmans recent article on the subject that probably has contributed as little to the improved comprehension of EA as Carr's to the improved use of IT in spite of their best intention (maybe because few bothered to go beyond the initial title before they set their mind and your not that pertinent post would be an excellent example)).

    [[ed. the comment originally included a copy of the above post.  trimmed for brevity.]]


  2. @Martin: It appears that you are attempting to model Mr. Carr's attempt at irony by stating that EA is not important, and then go on to say that alignment is important.  Perhaps you noticed how hard he had to work, after publishing that article, to clarify his stand, to the point of distraction.  Can we learn from that mistake, or is it just so novel that we have to repeat it?

    That said, it is a bit late to say that you believe that EA is important after all.  Your blog post clearly indicate a misunderstanding of where EA fits in the overall process of clarifying goals, chartering initiatives, and insuring activity that aligns with strategy.  You want IT services to deliver against good processes, but who decides when those services need to be created, upgraded, decommissioned, merged, split, insourced, outsourced, or offshored?  EA. 

    The ability to provide ROI does not make ROI relevant.  ROI is not relevant to the enterprise unless alignment is demonstrated first.  Once alignment is achieved, EA's role is done.  Only then is ROI relevant for prioritization.  EA is not responsible for creating ROI calculations.  It's a moot point.

    Use my post in any way you'd like.  Clarity of communication is a key EA skill.  I wish you the best of luck in your attempts to communicate with CIOs.

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