Holistic Architecture: A new term replacing current confusion

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Within a business it is crucial that all participants operate from a shared understanding.  Consistent misuse of the terms ‘IT Architecture’ and ‘Enterprise Architecture’ as synonyms limits the scope of Enterprise Architecture reducing its value to the business. As the misuse is so widespread I suggest we adopt the unambiguous term ‘Holistic Architecture’ which brings with it no baggage.

The issue of communication is one reason why a new term should be introduced. Thomas Kuhn (Structure of Scientific Revolutions), in 1962, introduced a. concept of incommensurability. With regards to this situation the problem is the preconception that individual users have of the term Enterprise Architect. Unless they have the same definition then any communication between them will result in a mismatch of expectations. Having lost the initiative in the use of the term Enterprise Architect we should now educate others in the use of a new term rather than attempt the ultimately futile act of re-education. 

Avoiding the use of the term Enterprise Architect and introducing something like “Business/IT Strategy Architect” in order to dispel misunderstanding confirms my view that an Holistic Architect is a better choice. Stringing together a number of descriptors before the word Architect tends to be a clumsy attempt to solve the problem. Architect by itself is not sufficient as it is recognised that there are many aspects of architecture which can be explored and in which some individuals may have deep skills. The use of a composite descriptor such as “‘Business/IT Strategy” also seems to reinforce the concept that an architecture is segmented. I would contend that whilst there are multiple facets to an architecture it should be regarded as an integrated whole.

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