So, I was about to blog on this topic when up comes a Tweet from Ron Schmelzer (@rschmelzer) over at ZapThink, “Question for the tweeple: do Federal EA Frameworks matter? And how do they stack up against non-Federal EA Frameworks? Do Frameworks matter?” Talk about synergies! Obviously, the value of EA frameworks is being questioned by many individuals.
This morning I posted the following comment on the #CAEAP website
“I see there are work tracks that focus on ‘Enterprise Architecture Professional Learning Framework, value to the practitioner’. I think it would be interesting to consider here a move away from a focus on frameworks and a move toward apprenticeship. My personal experience is that frameworks don’t help individuals become architects, it just provides a tools for organization of artifacts. Yet, I believe the industry believes that these frameworks (DoDAF, TOGAF, FEAF, PEAF, Zachman) help non-architects do an architect’s job.”
In my experience, all these frameworks provide a way to think about and organize the artifacts that are part of enterprise architecture, but a framework cannot make you an architect. Additionally, these frameworks provide a means of breaking down the work effort to collect these artifacts, which can be done by non-architects. But, in the end, all these artifacts need to be analyzed against a set of business goals, which then leads to the production of a design that aligns technological direction with the mission of the business.
Which brings up an interesting question, “who is using the framework?” In some cases, the framework has become a bureaucratic milestone on the way to approval. It doesn’t tell anyone who isn’t an EA anything more than what’s been collected about the current environment. There certainly is no way to ensure that the entire current environment is even fully represented by way of the artifacts that are represented. It’s merely a checkmark on some bean counter’s checklist before releasing funds.
If an EA is using these tools, more often than not they are stymied by the lack of support for emerging architectural approaches. As an exercise, try to find a standard way to capture an SOA design using one of the various EA framework approaches. Sure, people are hard at work trying to retrofit these standards to support emerging architectural methodologies, but these approaches take time and are often years behind the industry.
Most importantly is that enterprise architecture frameworks are designed to be tools. A chisel in the hand of a sculptor will yield a work of art, but in the hands of an amateur yields a pile of rubble. The same is true for any of these frameworks. We need to focus on the creation of architects. I believe the IT industry has been remiss in this effort. Sure, they pay for a few conferences, but architecture is something that is culled over time and based on seeing mass of systems being designed and built. I believe instead of certifications, we should focus on apprenticeships. The resume of an architect should read,
“Studied under XYZ from 2004-2006. XYZ has been responsible for … at … While studying under XYZ I was subject to delivery of the following types of systems.”
While I’m on the subject, I believe the same is true for cybersecurity experts.
Apprenticeship is a lost art in the world, which is a shame. Our desperate need for resources today has limited our long term vision of what the IT industry needs to thrive 20, 40 or 100 years from now. Business believes systems can be designed like a McDonald’s hamburger and that developers and architects are nothing more than the lettuce station and the fry station.
Why do we consistently see headlines, such as “SOA Is Dead”, “EAI Is Dead”? It’s simple, because all these things are really complex and you can’t approach them with an assembly line mentality. Forget Henry Ford already, look at Detroit, learn a lesson people! Focus on developing quality, which means selecting those individuals capable of being architects and supporting them through apprenticeship programs. Moreover, support the creation and execution of apprenticeship programs in your organization.