Enterprise Architecture Lecture Series

Imagine you wanted to run a lecture series or course on Enterprise Architecture. Let’s say you ended up with 6 themes, such as:

  • The Alignment Trap
  • The EA Profession and the Discipline
  • The Value of Enterprise Architecture
  • Architecting Work Practice
  • Living Enterprise and Metropolis
  • Publishing and artifacting

Now, you get to select one piece of literature for each module. Which books/articles would you use?

I will soon share my own more conventional answer to this, but here, I want to offer an unconventional answer, and suggest looking outside the disciplinary EA literature. So, if you should nominate just one author, whom would you choose? 

My nomination goes to Richard Sennett (@richardsennett), professor of sociology at London School of Economics.

The Alignment Trap

Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation
In this brand-new thought-provoking book, Sennett discusses why this has happened and what might be done about it. Sennett contends that cooperation is a craft, and the foundations for skillful cooperation lie in learning to listen well and discuss rather than debate. In Together he explores how people can cooperate online, on street corners, in schools, at work, and in local politics. He traces the evolution of cooperative rituals from medieval times to today, and in situations as diverse as slave communities, socialist groups in Paris, and workers on Wall Street. The book addresses the nature of cooperation, why it has become weak, and how it could be strengthened.



The Profession and the Discipline 

The Craftsman
Defining craftsmanship far more broadly than “skilled manual labor,” Sennett maintains that the computer programmer, the doctor, the artist, and even the parent and citizen engage in a craftsman’s work. Craftsmanship names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, and good craftsmanship involves developing skills and focusing on the work rather than ourselves. Sennett explores the work of craftsmen past and present, identifies deep connections between material consciousness and ethical values, and challenges received ideas about what constitutes good work in today’s world. Unique in the scope of his thinking, Sennett expands previous notions of crafts and craftsmen and apprises us of the surprising extent to which we can learn about ourselves through the labor of making physical things.



The Value of Enterprise Architecture

The Culture of the New Capitalism
In this provocative book Richard Sennett looks at the ways today’s global, ever-mutable form of capitalism is affecting our lives. He analyzes how changes in work ethic, in our attitudes toward merit and talent, and in public and private institutions have all contributed to what he terms “the specter of uselessness,” and he concludes with suggestions to counter this disturbing new culture.





Architecting Work Practice 

The Corrosion of Character
Drawing on interviews with dismissed IBM executives in Westchester, New York, bakers in a high-tech Boston bakery, a barmaid turned advertising executive, and many others, Sennett explores the disorienting effects of the new capitalism. He reveals the vivid and illuminating contrast between two worlds of work: the vanished world of rigid, hierarchical organizations, where what mattered was a sense of personal character, and the brave new world of corporate re-engineering, risk, flexibility, networking, and short-term teamwork, where what matters is being able to reinvent yourself on a dime. The Corrosion of Character enables us to understand the social and political context for our contemporary confusions and Sennett suggests how we need to re-imagine both community and individual character in order to confront an economy based on the principle of “no long term.”



 Urban Life vs Enterprise Life

The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities
With an eye toward the architecture, the art, the literature, and the technology of urban life, Richard Sennett gives an account of the search for shelter and the fear of exposure to strangers and new experience in Western culture – and how these two concerns have shaped the physical fabric of the city. “Why do we avert our eyes when we encounter the unaccustomed?” asks Sennett. In answer, he moves between past and present from the assembly hall of Athens to the Palladium Club; from Augustine’s City of God to the Turkish baths of the Lower East Side; from eighteenth-century English gardens to the housing projects of East Harlem; from Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy to subway graffiti. The Conscience of the Eye is an exploration of the politics of vision.



Publishing and artifacting

The Fall of Public Man
“Public” life once meant that vital part one’s life outside the circle of family and close friends. Connecting with strangers in an emotionally satisfying way and yet remaining aloof from them was seen as the means by which the human animal was transformed into the social – the civilized – being. Sennett shows how our lives today are bereft of the pleasures and reinforcements of this lost interchange with fellow citizens.  And he makes clear how, because of the change in public life, private life becomes distorted as we of necessity focus more and more on ourselves, on increasingly narcissistic forms of intimacy and self-absorption. Because of this, our personalities cannot fully develop: we lack much of the ease, the spirit of play, the kind of discretion that would allow us real and pleasurable relationships with those whom we may never know intimately.

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1 Comment.

  • Hey John
    Really nice to meet again and talk this week :-). I can suggest “The real value of IT” by Richard Hunter, fellow at Gartner, and George Westerman, reseacher at MIT. They draw on more than 10 years of research and their conclusions are wery similar to the way I understand and practice EA. I will be delighted to present the content myself on such an occasion. Have a look yourself.

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