What Are The Top 10 Architecture Principles Of The American Winner Enterprise

Thursday, April 6, 2017 | Likes: 0 | Comments: 0

Mark Paauwe

VP Product Development

Dragon1 Inc

Architecture is about culture, values and identity and so should Enterprise Architecture be. And if you talk about culture, values and identity, you notice there are differences between African and European companies or American and Asian companies.

Without knowing exactly what it is, you observe the differences that exist, making a company successful in a country or culture. And the companies are not static, over time they change, but within the context and framework of their culture and identity.

Now, too many companies cease to exist because they make decisions too late. The changes in the ecosystem or environment make that they may need to shift in identity, culture or values. It is the task of the Enterprise architect to design a successful and surviving architecture and structure for a company and to supervise the transformation of the old outdated company into a new and modern one. So the challenge for an enterprise architect is two-fold: to design a future-proof architecture, but also one that allows for a company to change over time.

If we look at successful American enterprises we encounter a "Winner" mentality. Many people, not everyone, of course, would like to adopt that winner mentality in their own company. Part of these winner enterprises is that they adopt new technologies and concepts quickly.

This blog is a first search for the top 10 architecture principles that make a company into a winner enterprise. Whether the company is Google, Facebook, Nike, Microsoft, they all share applied architecture principles. And the question is: what do you need to change to become a Winner Enterprise too?

The American Winner Enterprise

The architecture principles we are going to discuss here may not be the actual top 10. This is only a first exploration. And it may not even be possible to identify a common set or shared set of the most import architecture principles to become a Winner Enterprise. But it is very interesting to see how far we can come. Will it deliver something we can use?

Every country may have its winner enterprise architecture or even its winner reference architecture. Because the US has many perfect examples and perfect failures, it is a good starting point for trying to find or to uncover the top 10 architecture principles of the winner enterprise.

The above picture shows a framework of layers, with an inner core, outer core and mantle. Just like the earth has layers (the earth has seven layers). The inner core has one architecture principle, the outer core has three and the mantle has six. Interesting to see is, what the founders of successful companies think what the core principle of their enterprise is. And if that has shifted or changed in order to become or to stay a Winner Enterprise. All questions and assumptions here are preliminary.

The Top 10 Architecture Principles

The top 10 architecture principles are:

  • Customer Orientation
  • Green (Non Fossil)
  • Online (Non Brick)
  • Self Service Orientation
  • Smart
  • Cyber Secure
  • Digital (Paperless)
  • Adaptive (Non Fixed)
  • Trading Fair
  • Artificial Intelligence

According to the Dragon1 open Enterprise Architecture Method, an architecture principle should be justified for selecting and applying based on strategic requirements and based on best practices or literature references. So in this list we will need to provide typical strategic requirements and literature references for every architecture principle in the end. Or else we are just making up things, instead of building a solid reference enterprise architecture for the winner enterprise.

Principles should be choosing for a direction and moving away from a point. Like a tradeoff: No more... and fore ever that...

An architecture principle is the enforced way an architecture concept works, producing results [Dragon1]. In fact the term "Customer Orientation" is the name of a concept. The actual principle of this concept is something like this: By always improving your knowledge about the needs of your customers, you are able to improve, innovate and redesign your products and services so you are sure your products and services are always wanted and bought by your customers.

The moment you have applied this principle in your company, that is: if the concept works this way in your company, than this principle is part of your architecture and thus it is an architecture principle of your enterprise.

Principle #1 - Customer Orientation

Short Statement:

Literature reference:

Example Objective/Goal:

Principle details diagram:

Principle #2 - Green (Non Fossil)

Short Statement:

Literature reference:

Example Objective/Goal:

Principle details diagram:

Principle #3 - Online (Non Brick)

Short Statement:

Literature reference:

Example Objective/Goal:

Principle details diagram:

Exercise

Are you an enterprise architect and do you think architecture principles are important? Then why don't you too, create a Dragon1 Architecture Principles Diagram for your company like the one we are showing here? We are of course very interested how your diagram looks like, or how you are varying on this diagram to make it fit your architectural vision. A tip: discuss it with others, it will improve the quality and support for your diagram instantly. The director and management might even want to score the company for it and use it to support their decision-making.

World Wide Challenge

There are over 190 countries in the world, and it could be that every country has its own dominant "Winner" Enterprise Architecture.

I want to challenge everyone to explore the winner enterprise architecture principles for their country and mail them back to me for my Ph.D./Research.

What IS and what is NOT an Architecture Principle?

How effective or how much impact an architecture principle has, depends mainly on four things: 1) Is it formulated correctly as principle, 2) Is it visualized understandable, 3) Is it approved (and has money been allocated for implementation) and 4) does it follow from a business objective.

Now let us take a look at the formulation of a principle. Currently, the Ph.D./research on Architecture Principles has brought the insight that a principle is:

A principle is (the explanation of) the enforced way an entity (or system) works, producing certain results.
A principle is NOT a guideline, rule of thumb or legislative law.
All literature and practices in building architecture, landscape architecture and engineering point in that direction.

This definition is completely different from what most people use: A principle is a guiding statement, a rule of thumb or law. For example Pyramids, Bridges, MegaStructures, Car Engines and Coffee Machines don't have rules. They just exist, work and produce and always in the same way.

Many statements that are labeled Architecture Principle, are not at all principles.

Without people ever having provided evidence, various types of principles have been identified. And these types of principles are defined as rules or guidelines.

This is a very strange definition and stands far from a law of nature. If a principle is a rule or a guideline, it is optional to work with, You can ignore it completely and no-one will care. If a principle is a law of nature, it is not optional. Ignoring it means you go against the forces of nature. And that might not be that wise.

If a principle is a law of nature, then knowing about the principle and taking what happens in the phenomenon or concept into account, will make that the principle becomes a guiding principles.

When someone, with or without education in engineering or Architecture is asked to describe the principle of an espresso coffee machine or the principle of a diesel car engine, the person will tell how it works (as a mechanism) and what the produced results are.

Some people then argue that there is a difference between construction principles and other types of principles. But then they don't say why or how there is a difference. A rule has a different nature than a mechanism. So it would be very strange to have types of principles that are mechanisms and to have types of principles that are mechanism.

If we look at the seven basic principles of design (symmetry, etc...) These principles tell us how we feel by seeing something that is symmetrical, proportional etc.. And what we need to do in order to recreate symmetry and proportion.

So the following examples hint or indicate an underlying principle, but the statements presented are not principles, because they do not or only half describe a mechanism or the way things works:

  • Be Adaptive
  • Maximize Benefit to the Enterprise
  • Buy before build
  • Enterprise operations are maintained in spite of system interruptions.

It is easy to turn these statements into complete principles by having them describe a mechanism and result. And you must be able to refer to literature, so everyone knows you're not making it up.

  • By always being adaptive as an enterprise, it is ensured that ..., so... Ref:...
  • By ...., you can maximize the benefit of.... to the enterprise. And this will always bring... Ref:...
  • If it is possible to buy a solution instead of building it yourself, it will be more mature and lower in maintenance cost and development costs. Know that you become a vendor once you build a solution. Ref:...

Further Study

I am doing Ph.D./research on Architecture Principles at the Radboud University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands (Prof. E. Proper/Bas van Gils). Part of this study I am doing open discussions with experts in the field like you. This blog is 'work in progress' and may become a scientific article at one point in time. Who knows?

If you have any suggestions for architecture principles, business concepts and IT concepts that in your opinion should be part of the top 10, top 20 or top 30, please mail them to me: mark.paauwe@dragon1.com.

Shortly the comments will be opened for this article.

To be continued...

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