Using Sailing as an EA Analogy


In James McGovern’s post Enterprise Architecture and Sailing, he has discovered a great way to articulate the way EA behaves and operates. He uses a sailing analogy to describe it. I like this for a number of reasons but the most obvious one is that it describes more of the function, operation or behavior  rather than the solution that an EA is describing. It takes it up a notch or two. You might of seen that I comment on analogies a few times on my blog in posts like The Nemesis of Software Architecture and Enterprise Architecture Analogy. I don’t think there is one analogy that is definitive but rather many ways to describe what we do to folks with different perspectives.

Here is what James has to say in his post Enterprise Architecture and Sailing:

  • When the wind shifts, you have to adapt your plans accordingly. There’s no point arguing about it.
  • The crew is constantly monitoring and making little adjustments to the sails.
  • You can’t always trust the map or the weather reports. You have to pay attention to what you see, not what you were told you were supposed to see.
  • You really have no idea exactly how long it is going to take to get anywhere. (But you’ll have fun anyway.)
  • You can speed up by throwing big heavy things overboard.


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