I have the opportunity to interact with hundreds of organizations of varying levels of maturity and their approach to the practice of enterprise architecture governance. Across each of these organizations, there are various flavors of governance all seeking to answer the single question of who has decision making authority…
The below table attempts to classify the different approaches to enterprise architecture governance. The various approaches don’t always fit neatly into a single bucket and can be combined depending on organizational culture.
No approvals required. I do what I feel is right with no validation from others.
I have strong decision making authority supported by a hierarchy of enterprise architects.
A council of senior executives calls all the shots. The enterprise architecture team follows their command without question.
Individuals are nominated to represent various concerns and sit on a council with voting privileges.
The minority of the most qualified makes decisions for the majority.
A team of administrators is imbued with limited decision making authority around minor aspects of architecture
The lines of authority aren’t clear. Political battles are often won by who fights the longest
Each of these approaches has both their strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Chiefdom and Republic model work very well when you have exceptionally strong talent. The Democracy and Liberty model works in cultures that lack strong executive leadership. The communism works well when enterprise architecture is nascent in organizations. A monarchy when staffed with both business and IT executives can help strengthen business and IT alignment.
Classification schemes have the potential to become the subject of the next Dilbert cartoon. They can also help enterprise architects understand the barriers to success and provide them with a spark that help them navigate their enterprise architecture to a better place.
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