Setting the ‘Stage’

I have had the opportunity to be both on and behind the stage in a number of amateur productions.  Enterprise Architecture is like the theater before it gets customized for a particular play.  Depending on the size of your organization, this could be something as large as Universal Studios, or as small as a school gym.

If you have been back stage as an actor, you see the raw aspects of the set.  The unfinished backs of sets, some jerry-rigged wiring, props and assorted things, actors in various stages of dress.  But when you step on stage – all of that disappears and you (and hopefully the audience) are transported into the setting that has been created.

So Enterprise Architecture creates the sound stage, prop room, sets and a whole bunch of reusable components that can be used to create a set.  A set within which the actors can be bring to scenes to life that tell a story.  That set is a Solution Architecture.

Solution Architecture

So what’s missing from the Solution that is described at the highest level in the Enterprise Architecture?  Basically the actors (people) and props (experience devices).

Solution Architecture

The solution architecture canvas adds two additional zones from the Enterprise Model. People and experience devices.  All of the other components of the Solution Architecture is be inherited from the Enterprise Architecture.  By doing this, it allows for the lower level of details to be defined for specific business solutions over time rather than waiting for all levels of detail to be created from the top down.


One of the most powerful techniques for creating models for the people using the  solution is the persona from Alan Cooper.  I used to call this group users, but a recent blog posting suggested that was not humane.  It convinced me that we get better design only if we see them as people.  So I agree – let’s start by calling them people!    Rather underused as a technique, but there’s lots of great examples available for you to start building your own.

Experience Devices

Increasingly these experience devices not what we have traditionally expected.  No longer is it just a computer, phone or tablet.  Now we have passive devices and sensors everywhere connected to the Internet.  No matter how people engage with the solution, this is where technology finally exposes the rest of the solution.

Adding the narrative

So now we have the set, but someone still has to write the script.  The test of the solution is that the script that can be narrated using business processes, scenarios or other storyboards to put the people in the solution and bring the story to life.

Linking Solutions to the Enterprise

Before you start building solutions, develop an initial top level ontology using the Enterprise Blueprint.  Then start building Solutions that using the blueprint that starts to extend the enterprise model into individuals solutions and see what kind of patterns start to emerge.