A while ago I was interviewed by Thijs Doorenbosch of the Dutch IT magazine AG Connect about the new developments regarding DYA and our new way of looking at our own role as architects. This blog is a translation of the publication of that interview that was published on the AG Connect website at https://www.agconnect.nl/business/leiderschap/moderne-enterprise-architect-moet-ruimte-laten-voor-creativiteit
Dynamic times in technology demand a new dynamic from enterprise architects. Developers no longer need to see them as the guardians of once-placed fences. The new architect sees themselves standing in the middle of the flow (the river) and assists developers in making choices.
Thinking more in the spirit of rules and allowing freedom for autonomy. The realization that a new generation of architects and an addition to Dynamic Architecture (DYA) was needed came to Hans Nouwens and the other members of the Sogeti DYA architecture team five years ago. Over twenty years ago, Sogeti initiated the effort to highlight the value of enterprise architecture for businesses. ‘We now want to take a step further under the banner of Sensemaking Architecture,’ says Nouwens. ‘It’s not about architecture; it’s about how we, as architects, deliver the best values in an organization.’
According to Hans, it’s not just about focusing on ‘stakeholder values’ or making money. ‘More and more topics came up, such as ethics and inclusivity. But then the question arose: ‘How do we fit that in?’ You can’t fit ethics into an architecture principle. So, we started looking at and thinking about architecture in different ways. The architect should not hide for two years, then come up with models and architecture principles and declare that they describe the new reality.
The world is much faster and more dynamic than we can help steer in an organization from an ivory tower. As an architect, you must be part of the flow, like a river. You can’t stop a river by throwing a handful of sand or a concrete block into it; the river just flows around it. As an architect you stand in the river and adjust the flow little by little. That’s how you should also look at the ecosystem in which the organization operates.’
>>How do you achieve that flexibility?
It means that there should be much more room for creativity in the architecture function. Strategy is no longer a document but a route to get somewhere. That route should guide an organization towards a widely shared vision to which everyone contributes. An organization won’t be successful if it doesn’t have the organization on board, if employees don’t feel connected to the organization because the values the organization holds – think of sustainability, ecology, moral values, ethics – don’t align with the people in it.
>>What is the role of senior management when you involve more people in determining the strategy?
An organization is not a democracy, but a culture of which senior management is also a part, and where customers also play a role. The values that the organization radiates must come from your core. Otherwise, it’s like greenwashing.’
>>What will employees, such as developers, notice about the new version of the enterprise architect?
Architects are often seen as the ones who set and enforce boundaries. So, we’re limiting. ‘You have to work on this system because it’s our platform.’ Then you take away people’s autonomy. Alternatively, you can also stand next someone and say, ‘Great, interesting, how can I help you with your idea? What are the consequences, the implications? What do we need to consider? Who is involved? What is the target audience? Think about this and that technology. For your plan, you need these and these information elements. That means you need something about privacy and security.
You need these and these information systems. We have the technology for that.
But does it always have to land on the same technology? It doesn’t have to, but preferably it should if possible because it’s cheaper. And more efficient operation of your IT processes makes them more sustainable, and that’s what we want as an organization.’
>>So, the role of the architect is changing fundamentally. No strict application of structural principles anymore?
I think we, as architects, can interpret things more freely. Just as you have laws and can act in the spirit of the law, we can also think more in the spirit of the rules.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTING
Hans Nouwens and the DYA architecture core team have explored the new ideas about the role of the enterprise architect in the essay ‘Survival of the Fitting.’ The title refers to the evolutionary theory that organisms that are best adapted to changing conditions have the best chance of survival. Similarly, organizations that ‘fit’ best in the ecosystem in which they operate and depend on are best equipped to deal with change. Architects have the role of keeping an eye on that course and making adjustments as necessary.”
Interested in this vison? Download the essay via https://www.sogeti.nl/events/dya-dag-2023
About Hans Nouwens
Hans Nouwens is an experienced architect with 25+ years of practical experience in the field of ICT, infused with rigorous academic learning. He works as an architect and trusted advisor, mainly for Higher Education institutes. Enterprise engineering, enterprise architecture and enterprise governance are his specialities that come with DEMO and CGEIT certifications. Hans has an academic interest in sensemaking, ethics, philosophy, systems theory and cybernetics. Hans volunteers as board member for the interest group architecture of the KNVI and the Dutch society of systems thinkers (SCIO-NL). He regularly gives guest lectures on enterprise architecture and coaches students. Within SogetiNL Hans is subject matter expert Enterprise Architecture, and thought leader on the topic of Sensemaking Architecture.
More on Hans Nouwens.