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EA: Enterprise Architecture or Egomaniacs Anonymous?

I used to think that ‘EA’ stood for Enterprise Architect. However, having been drowned in the torrent of hot air and hyperbole that flows from EA forums (or should that be fora?) on LinkedIn, I now suspect that ‘EA’ might stand for ‘Egomaniacs Anonymous’.

Engagement Is Good, Right?

Is it not good to see people getting engaged in a forum and enthusiastically putting forward lots of varied views and comments on a particular subject? Under ordinary circumstances I would totally agree that it is. Sadly, what happens in the EA forums is something quite different.

It all starts off quiet with a contributor making a post or asking a question. Then, some other contributor will leave a comment expressing a view that is relevant to the post or question. This process will continue for about another four or five comments.

Then, without warning, the EA insanity kicks in. Some member of Egomaniacs Anonymous, who was passing by or was stalking in the area, will now pitch in with a comment that has absolutely no relevance to the original post, but will be on some pet obsession, some inane analogy (a favourite of so many EAs) or even a personal attack on one of the previous contributors.

Chemical Warfare

This post seems to send out some sort of weird digital chemical message that attracts all of the members of Egomaniacs Anonymous within a thousand mile radius, who will now come swarming, armed with sacks full of irrelevant comments, more inane analogies, or, in many cases just plain old vitriol.

In some cases this feeding frenzy can go on for days, even weeks. Recently one simple question resulted in a plague of over 2500 comments, about 5% of which were relevant to the original question.

My mailbox was spammed daily.  I had originally clicked the box asking to be notified of any follow-up comment on the original post. Maddeningly, as the frenzy continued to build I could not, no matter how many times I tried, unclick this box.

I even made a post pleading with the contributors to please stop the insanity and stop spamming me. Needless to say, it never got published and the deluge continued for about another two weeks.

Montgolfier Inflation Index

Rumour has it that statisticians, social media commentators and physicists have developed, and are now busy calibrating, a new measurement scale called the Montgolfier Inflation Index.  Using this they reckon they will soon be able to measure which takes more hot air to inflate, the Montgolfier Brothers hot air balloon or the ego of an EA.Balloon Inflated by Hot Air from Enterprise Architects

Is this the reason why Enterprise Architects are viewed with such scepticism (if not contempt) in organisations around the world? Is it because they are so obsessed with their own views and opinions, so convinced that they totally understand everything about everything that they have no need to ask questions; indeed they already have all the answers to any question you could possibly think of asking.

This is such a pity, because good Enterprise Architects have so much to offer to an enterprise. Great Enterprise Architects ask lots of questions, design great architectures, hand them over to other people to build, implement and enjoy. Then, their job done, these architects move on to their next enterprise and next great challenge.

That is the true measure of great EAs, they continually make themselves redundant!!!


4 Responses to “EA: Enterprise Architecture or Egomaniacs Anonymous?”

  1. Rob Vens December 18, 2012 3:04 pm #

    I completely agree with you about the inflated ego’s of some Enterprise Architects I had the privilege to work with (and indeed, that is a mixed blessing…). These persons are almost able to bring an enterprise to its knees. But I am also (less mixed) blessed with knowing quite a few EAs who are exactly as you describe a “good” EA, and I am trying to be as “good” as I can be myself.

    Enterprise Architects as you describe them seem to be more of a pioneer, a trail blazer. I think EA should be firmly embedded in an enterprise and their processes, and I think that maybe such a person would help in bootstrapping an EA in an enterprise, but surely that needs to be picked up and further evolved by EAs later on?

  2. Cal Lewis December 18, 2012 12:16 pm #

    Mr. Owens, I truly enjoy your ability to cut through the BS. Similar problems with other threads I’ve followed have turned me away from LinkedIn and other media producing lower blood pressure and a general feeling of well being. Leave the oblividiots to themselves.

  3. Richard Ordowich December 18, 2012 11:58 am #

    I don’t think that EA is the only topic that suffers from egomania. Most blogs and other mediums of online communications are infotainment, reflecting other media’s own degradation (TV, radio). Today anyone can espouse on their viewpoint on any subject with wild abandon. It’s the Wild West age of the Internet.

    That said, EA itself is a marketing term. Rationalization of this term knows no bounds. Some try to relate its origins to the Zachman framework. Others relate it to SOA. Creating one’s own definition and reality is needed to justify investing time and resources into the pursuit of EA. It is whatever you believe it is. The egos come into play when one pundit wants a community to adopt their viewpoint and thus the dogma wars begin. This again is a natural human instinct.

    Whether or not this form of dialogue is beneficial or is just for entertainment is something only the individual participants can determine. My approach is to opt out of sites and blogs who’s (in my opinion) only purpose is to promote someone’s ego or business. Of course, my judgment is not itself egoless.

    Click out or opt out or join the fray. I had to put my ego aside to make this decision.

    • John Owens December 18, 2012 10:53 pm #

      Hi Richard

      Every post and thread should contain the opinion of the person making it. This is how we learn about new things and different points of view. At least it should be.

      The problem with the type of posts that I address here is that they are no of no relevance to the subject being discussed and, consequently, of no value to the reader. Worse that that, they actually steal the readers time.

      I also have no problem with people pushing their points of view, even their products and services (when done subtly), as long as they are of relevance and truly add value.


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