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EA as a Profession -real possibility or an unfettered ambition
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EA as a Profession -real possibility or an unfettered ambition

Posted By Jason Uppal, Friday, March 4, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2016

EA as a Profession – real possibility or an unfettered ambition by Jason Uppal

I was trained as an engineer and economist. I worked nearly 25 years as an engineer, manager, executive and social change catalyst. During my career, one thing had remained constant.  I always thought my job was to optimize what we have, transform what we can using known good practices/technologies, innovate new and make the current value chain dramatically more productive than current, not just for shareholders but for all stakeholders.

For the last fifteen years, my work has been recognized as an Enterprise Architect. My peers have granted me the highest EA Distinction – Open CA Level 3 certification – Chief Architect. During this period, I witnessed many trends, fads, new shiny objects such as  IT Architecture, Business Architecture, Solution Architecture, Drawing Boxes and Arrows Architecture, Blue Sky Thinking Architecture.. to just name few. With all this churn and noise, one wonders – are these noises created in self-serving mode or  are we going after some larger goal .


This brings me to the current topic in hand – if we want to be recognized as professionals like engineers, doctors, accountants, even lawyers, electrician and plumbers, we need to define what it is that we do and how does it serve the public. Only then can we have our effort recognized as a profession and find a way to get ourselves entrenched in legislation.

Here is my proposal, and I would welcome the  opportunity to hear your ideas:

Proposal - Uppal Act

Good Organization Index : Our workforce has changed, but the workplace remained the same. If you need proof  go speak with a 60 year old and ask him/her their expectation when they graduated from colleges and ask a college student today. These two worlds are miles apart. Today we need to find a way to measure  Goo Organization Index.  A place where productive dialogue takes  place and work place is exciting and innovative. Everybody wants innovation, but culture in most organizations is anything but innovative. My last workplace, all team members had food testers.

Method – just like accountants have figured out how to create financial governance index we can create a good organization index and governance framework . We apply our architecture thinking and develop this process, implement broadly and then get the political  elite to put it into a legislation. All politicians want to be cool, they just know how. Imagine – Trump with first legislative agenda – Good Organization Index – Uppal Act.

By doing this, we would have taken first steps towards us being a profession and do common good – we can stop wasting our young talent.


Looking forward to your feedback

Jason Uppal



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Michael Fulton says...
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Jason, Can you expand a little bit on what you are wanting to create and how it relates to EA as a profession? I am not sure I get what you are asking to do.
Permalink to this Comment }

Jason Uppal says...
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2016
Michael .. among many things, a profession serves the public good .. how can EA profession serve public good .. my suggestion was Good Organization Index ... like CFO has Sox compliance .. not the same way but you get the idea
Permalink to this Comment }

Darryl Carr says...
Posted Friday, March 25, 2016
Jason, I suggest you look at the work being done by Paul Preiss' organisation Iasa Global. The have some definitions on what constitutes a profession, and material relating that to architecture.

Iasa's work aside, yes we should be working toward EA as a profession, with all that it entails.
Permalink to this Comment }

Aishwarya Goyal says...
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Jaosn, in my view, EA is the framework which gives you a process or framework based thinking but it wont tell you the 100% correct way which you can align in your real world situation (as it might be different).
Experience says that keep things simple so that target audience and your successor wont find it difficult to understand and take it forward.
Permalink to this Comment }

Michel A. Behr says...
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2016
Jason, just my 2 cents: not sure if what I will describe is a "difficulty" or just an "inevitable reality", but I think the range of possibilities in terms of what an Enterprise Architect can do is very wide when compared to other more specialized professions you mentioned. Attempting to a summarized description, I would say this: just like a "traditional" architect "designs buildings and advises in their construction" [1] what an Enterprise Architect delivers is not the enterprise itself, but the design of it - and he/she also advises on the enterprise "construction".

This paralell seems to lead to some ellucidative differences:

1. The role of an Enterprise Architect, most of the time, is to transform an enterprise, not to design it or advise on its "construction" from scratch. That imposes a whole different set of challenges that a "Traditional Architect" by contrast doesn't have to face (most of the time anyway).

2. The Traditional Architect deals with concrete, "real" things, whereas an Enterprise Architect deals with more abstract things - e.g. the relationships between elements of the enterprise, artifacts, plans, systems, applications...

3. As a consequence of the last item, the responsibilities assigned to a Traditional Architect are clearly defined and less subject to variations - to start with, how much is an enterprise ready to change?

4. The work of a Traditional Architect is somewhat independent of other professionals - he/she has to comply with principles, rules, norms, and requirements from the client, but other than that, he/she is "free". An Enterprise Architect on the other hand has to "sign-off" with many different stakeholders, deal with complex "office politics" conflicts, and take under consideration a much larger set of restrictions - although I presume Traditional Architects also deal with some "husband/wife politics" at times... :-)

5. What a Traditional Architect designs and helps build is something fixed, subject to few changes afterwards. An Enterprise Architect coordinate the "design and building" of something that will be changing from Day #1.

All that being said: an Enterprise Architect delivers (documents, plans, meeting minutes, systems, "sign-offs", etc.), and he/she DOES things (coordinate meetings, present a workplan, advise stakeholders, etc). So I think there is a "light at the end of the tunnel", but the "final answer" will probably not be as crisp as one could expect.

Now, as a final comment: what is an Enterprise? TOGAF for example takes EA from a more IT angle, but there are important dimensions like strategy, competition, markets, economic trends, legal environment, that will hardly all get contemplated in a typical EA assignment. So I guess that also adds to the challenge of getting to a crisp definition for what EA is or is not as a profession - that is, the definition of the "boundaries" for an Enterprise in terms of what "layers" will get contemplated or not.

Anyway, I think it is a very interesting theme to discuss - hopefully we will see some advances in the future - I think EA professionals would benefit from a better definition. Although as time passes and the world changes faster and faster, it seems to get harder and harder for anyone (not only EA professionals) to be able to explain to family members what it IS that we actually DO at work! :-)
Permalink to this Comment }

Michel A. Behr says...
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2016
(sorry, just including a reference I forgot to put at the end of my last post).
Permalink to this Comment }

John D. Sanders says...
Posted Friday, September 30, 2016
This may be overly simplistic but I have always seen the EA role as a bridge builder; someone who understands both business and IT and can translate the complexities of both sides to the language of the other.
Permalink to this Comment }

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