John Gøtze & Ksenija Bickova, EA Fellows ApS

When we teach Enterprise Architecture, we always talk a lot about coherency, how “things” (people, processes, and technologies) are interconnected and intertwined, and how everything is related. That to us is what makes enterprise architecture a unique discipline. It is also the reason why good architects are those who understand systems-of-systems and are able to work with complexity and uncertainty.

People often ask what essential skills and competencies an enterprise architect my have. I often hear IT-centric architects say that coding/programming is the most fundamental skill. That is simplistic and plainly wrong, in our view. It holds true if you talk about software architects, but enterprise architects must have a more holistic perspective, namely that of Systems Thinking. Understanding all the interdependencies and -relations in the enterprise and its ecosystem is an essential competency for enterprise architects.

In essence, systems thinking provides a plethora of generalized models and approaches to analyzing complex systems, be it human, biological, social, or mechanical, and how they respond to changing internal and external conditions. Enterprise architecture is often employed as a tool to understand and manage the many moving parts of large-scale organizational change – and systems thinking therefore provides a viable theoretical basis for conceptualizing and reflecting upon how and why enterprise architecture is best applied in different situations so as to successfully execute organizational changes for better outcomes.

Over the past ten years, the scope and role of the enterprise architect is gradually changing from problem solving to problem finding and from dialectic to dialogic skills. The former is expressed in the way in which enterprise architecture has gradually transitioned from the “classic” domain of business drivers and IT requirements into dealing with many different domains of the enterprise, e.g. business strategy, operations, capability development, etc. These non-IT areas typically deal with “wicked”, ill-defined problems, which are very hard to solve with traditional engineering methods. Instead, skills such as continuous learning, exploration, collaboration, and enquiry are required. The latter is expressed in the increasing need for cross-departmental, cross-disciplinary collaboration and learning in the modern organization in order to solve complex business issues. In the light of this changing role, systems thinking again provides a compelling approach for framing and analyzing these challenges. Here, Systems Thinking comes to the rescue. 

Learn More about Systems Thinking – Join Our Course on March 5th!

Our Systems Thinking course offers an in-depth understanding of a comprehensive approach to tackle complex problems. It explores the key concepts and principles of systems thinking, along with tools and techniques like causal loop diagrams and system archetypes. The course also delves into system dynamics, feedback loops, and their impact on system behaviour. By the end, you’ll have developed the skills to identify, analyse, and address the root causes of problems using systems thinking and anticipate potential unintended consequences.


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