Blog post

Enterprise Mashups and The MacGyver Principle

By Anthony J. Bradley | November 20, 2008 | 3 Comments


An enterprise mashup capability normally involves a library of developer provided “mashable” components (gadgets and widgets for example), that are assembled and re-assembled by other developers or end-users to rapidly deliver highly flexible applications. Mashups are about building applications that change as fast as the business situation demands.  

Using mashups end users can build their own solutions by assembling existing gadgets. I have dubbed this “The MacGyver Principle.” When MacGyver must solve an urgent problem he doesn’t call in a developer, a business analyst, and a subject matter expert to design a solution that can take weeks or months. This isn’t feasible when the building is about to explode (or some other relevant dire consequence). He must act now so he builds a solution with the resources at hand. MacGyver’s solution is only as good as his ingenuity and the resources readily available.

Because users can quickly and spontaneously create mashup applications, mashups open up possibilities for a new class of situational awareness applications that are personal in nature but that leverage an enterprise mashup asset (i.e., the repository of gadgets) and are available to the community of users who can benefit from and build upon a users innovation.

The IT organization’s role with situational awareness mashups is to provide their MacGyvers with a robust set of mashup resources so they can build their own application solutions. With mashups, IT doesn’t deliver users a final application but instead delivers the means for users to assemble and share numerous final applications. After all, this is Web 2.0 and about leveraging the community.

Here is some of my research relevant to The MacGyver Principle.

‘Mashups’ and Their Relevance to the Enterprise

Reference Architecture for Enterprise ‘Mashups’

Demand for SA Applications Drives EP Systems Enabled by SOA and Web 2.0 Synergy

Who’s Who in Enterprise ‘Mashup’ Technologies



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  • Nick Gall says:


    For those not familiar with the 80’s television character (esp. French audiences), you might want to use the term “bricoleur”: one who constructs a work from a diverse range of things which happen to be available. See . See also the entry on MacGyver, which describes him as a bricoleur: .

    MacGyver is the paragon of the bricoleur and his MacGyverisms are paradigms of bricolage. So I guess a good French translation for “mashup” would be bricolage!

  • Anthony Bradley says:

    I’m not sure the term bricoleur enyoys more global recognition than MacGyver (France excepted) 🙂

  • Jeffrey Mann says:

    When my plumber in France uses the term ‘bricoleur’ it usually means that I tried to fix something myself that I should not have touched. At least when he mutters it, it is not a good thing.