Texas AEA Summit Recap

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Wow, what a great event.  It’s been a month since the first the event and we are still getting  a great deal of feedback on the value of the event. Thank you to all of you that attended. 

With close to 125 attendees for this first time summit of the Texas Association of Enterprise Architects we couldn’t of asked for a better turnout. We had attendees from multiple sectors, multiple Texas cities (Dallas, San Antonio and Houston) and from other architecture associations that decided to show up. As an example, we’ve had the San Antonio Enterprise Architecture Association come to our meetings along with IASA. At this event we had the good fortune of having the IASA Austin chapter president and an IASA marketing person so support for what we are doing at this summit. What I want people to take away from this is that the Texas AEA is open to all architecture professionals regardless of affiliation or level of experience. All are welcome.

 

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The theme for the summit was centered all around real world practitioner stories, Keeping EA Real. I think we did that with our excellent speakers in the real world stories from the trenches.

However, don’t just take my word for it. Check out all the great social media activity on the event at hashtag #TexasAEA

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All of the presentations from the day are available on the Global Association of Enterprise Architects portal under the Texas Chapter. All you need to do is login and and the presentations freely available to you. We also recorded the sessions and looking to find a way of sharing those with you as well.

This summit may of been very different compared to traditional conferences that you may be used to. The day was split into two major sections. The day started out with a traditional conference format with keynote speakers and sessions lots for more of a one-way dialogue. We had Jeanne Ross and John Zachman as the headliners for the summit followed by 20 minute TED style customer case studies. These were rapid succession get to the point sessions without any of the fluff. I think this was extremely valuable.

After lunch and the second half of the summit was built to be more interactive similar to what you would find at in an conference. We kicked off the second half with a panel from the TD style presentations from earlier in the morning. This was built to be interactive serving the questions of the audience. From there we went into open space/uncomfortable style roundtables. At the beginning of the conference we had voting on which topics they wanted to discuss at the roundtables. Those that got the votes the highest were nominated as the roundtable that people want to. After the roundtables we recaps the entire day and went directly to the social event afterwards. Again to facilitate meaningful conversation amongst enterprise architecture peers.

Bellow is a further break down of the conference. I don’t cover every point that was made but more the salient points that resonated with me that I would like to share with all of you.

Morning Sessions

Welcome address

The day started off with myself kicking off the day in the welcome address. I talked about our vision in charter for the Texas chapter. This included some things we’d already discussed in our first meeting but for the sake of the new attendees we wanted to go through the full vision of the Texas AEA.

There’s also some highlights that we discussed as well. Namely the current state of the chapter. Month over month our chapter doubles in size.

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The chapters only been around for three months. What this teams me is the there is an enormous amount of demand for what we’re doing here for the EA profession at least here in Texas. With both potential and non-members of the AEA, the attendance has shown us an overwhelming amount of support for what we’re doing. As an example we usually find of the typical audience one fourth of the audience is non-members with a month over month growth rate seeing that those very non-members transition into members.

 

image Another important announcement is around professional development. The AEA will be supporting the ability to issue credits for activities you do through the AEA. So if you go to a summit, present at a monthly meeting or collaborate through the portal these all generate credits for you to demonstrate all the great things you’ve been doing in the year profession. Keep in mind this only applies to Open CA and not skills-based certifications like TOGAF. This is taking certification to the next level of maturity that gives people the credit where credit is due.

 

Along with professional development credits, a related announcements is around actual certification. Here in the Texas AEA we have several Open CA certified enterprise architects. With that we are planning on creating a mentorship program to help those that want to achieve their open sea certification. Along with us we been granted the ability to hold certification boards as well. We will be the first AEA chapter to do this. Very exciting news!

 

Jeanne Ross: Enterprise Architect
ure State of the Union

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Jeanne Ross opened up the conference with her keynote. Unfortunately she was in Paris this week but delivered the next best thing, a prerecorded message just for us!

Jeannie continue to describe the evolution of her research at MIT Sloan. The message that sticks out most of my mind is really centered around a change in mentality that enterprise architects need to adopt. Jeanie cover this, and I wholeheartedly agree, enterprise architects should stop trying to have their customers try to understand exactly what they do. Rather, we should be focused on what our customers want rather than having our customers understand exactly what and how we execute the end deliverable for the end customer.

I keep it as simple as this. If I hire a plumber 2 o’clock a drain at my home, I don’t want to understand how to be a plumber I just want my drink the unclogged. But in this scenario, enterprise architects as the plumber, we’re trying to give a schematic of the drain systems and discuss optimization in tolling over a set of blueprints that myself as a consumer doesn’t fully understand and respect the S can’t have any informed opinion on. It’s just a waste of time and energy. I think EA is having a big opportunity here to change their mindset.

 

John Zachman: Enterprise physics 101

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Next up was John Zachman. Just being in Zachman’s presence is extremely humbling. After all, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. And he seems to be the perfect EA. Not because he started this whole thing in I’m a bit starstruck but he has the ideal demeanor and personality traits of the ideal Enterprise Archtect. He has the ability to greatly influence a room while also checking the ego at the door. I was pleasantly surprised on how humble he really was.

John took us through his latest thinking on the Zachman framework. He discussed how the past couple years he has really learned a great deal about enterprise architecture. This was through a colleague of his based in India that was building a set of EA consultancy services around the Zachman framework. By exercising the framework broadly like this exposed quite a few things that were considered before.

He explained to the group the philosophy behind the Zachman framework. Essentially it’s ensuring that you’re asking all the right questions to make sure that you have a complete understanding of what is to be architected. So John borrowed from the 6 interrogative’s that fully complete a story: who, what, when, where and why. With this, that and explained that his framework really wasn’t an EA framework but rather an ontology. Personally, I couldn’t agree more. You can see you post here on this topic.

imageAnother important point that John made was in a similar vein as Jeanne Ross. He chose just to think about EA profession and how we been conducting ourselves. Well Jeannie focus on the interpersonal or sauce skills Mr. Zachman looked at it from the perspective of what we do as enterprise architects. You know do that he used was comparing what we do to either a manufacturer or in engineer. John’s point was that we call ourselves or contrast we do with engineers but reality we can Dr. sells more as manufacturers. Meaning that there isn’t much that is truly engineered and thought through with great detail and rigor but rather we are more supply line manufacturers crunching out widgets.

This is a very interesting analogy and one I don’t fully think is easily understandable however I get the incident and agree with it. If you’ve heard me talk you know that I talk about architecture versus implementation. This is essentially what Mr. Zachman is talking about here. Architecture is all about planning, designing and engineering. The things we do after Architecture are all about executing meaning we going bill or in John’s terms manufacture.

After getting some fundamental framing on how are conducting ourselves in this profession in a bit of setting stage for what’s next, John went through his ontology or what is commonly referred to as the Zachman framework. He referred to it as the periodic table of elements for enterprise architecture it has all of the fundamental elements of what we need to do in enterprise architecture. What how I refer to it, it’s a measure of completeness. But it’s up to you to figure out the right questions to ask and how to implement this tool. It’s not predicated that every box gets checked off or all questions get answered that’s where your judgment comes.

When John talks about the usage of the pure a table for enterprise architecture he talks a great deal about how to compose an implement it. It’s so he draws analogies from the chemistry world. He challenges us to think about using those foundational elements versus what he refers to ask composite. Already prefabricated or combined foundational elements of the Zachman framework to make business decisions. His assertion and I agree is that when we do that mean heritage whole set of constraints or objectives that we know me know he’s trying so for. So my take a step back and looking at all the foundational elements might be a really good thing. However keep in mind having composites isn’t entirely a bad thing in my opinion, however you want to make sure that you understand all the characteristics of it.

The last and final messages that John sent was around misconceptions of the framework. Mr. Zachman made it very clear that his framework was never intended to operate on its own. It is merely an ontology.

Again, Thank you to the attendees

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