Beyond Alignment (2013)

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Book: Beyond Alignment (2013)

Review by Ian Glossop

I can do much worse than quote from Peter Bernus's foreword to this book:

"Today we are at the crossroads, because the evolution of Enterprise Architecture (EA) discipline requires that the multiple origins of EA be synthesized and harmonized. This is a challenging task due to the path dependencies that exist within the discipline-based communities behind their respective standards. Therefore the system concepts inherited from these origins need to be re-expressed in an interdisciplinary language of systems both acceptable and useful for all.

The development of an interdisciplinary theory of systems understood by theoreticians and practitioners of all constituent disciplines is a very important agenda."

This book, comprising 22 quasi-academic articles of varying length, that might have appeared in the Journal of Enterprise Architecture or similar journal, explores the relationships and commonalities between various strands of Systems Thinking and Enterprise Architecture. It is an important contribution to that agenda and the ongoing discourse. I particularly enjoyed and would recommend the contributions of Mesbah Kahn - "Embedding Systemic Thinking into Enterprise Architecture" and James Martin - "Transforming the Enterprise Using a Systems Approach" - but the general quality level of all the articles is very high.

I should have liked to seen a greater emphasis on Soft Systems Thinking and Socio-Technical Systems and perhaps some discussion of Operational / Operations Research (OR) and Enterprise Architecture. I would also have liked to have seen a greater contribution from the academic systems community - people like Mike Jackson, Gerald Midgley and John Mingers in the UK - the contributions of Bud Lawson, James Lapalme and others in the book noted. Perhaps a follow-up volume?

It might also have benefited from a little more editing to shorten sentences and improve the clarity of expression - though it remains very readable given a certain level of previous knowledge of the subject, or subjects.

The most serious criticism I have however, is the complete lack of a proper index. Unforgiveable in such an anthology - and for this reason alone it cannot get five stars.

Nevertheless this is a "must-read" for any professional Enterprise Architect, Systems Thinker, Change Management consultant or general Manager and a very valuable addition to the bookshelf of any professional Enterprise Architect or anyone interested in interdisciplinary / multi-methodology approaches to change in enterprises and development of the theory.