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Welcome to the STREAMS Wiki

Defining STREAMS

What is STREAMS?

STREAMS is an acronym that stands for:

 Systems Thinking, Real Enterprise Architecture and Management Science.

It is a set of ideas about how to build and manage an Enterprise based on a common, rigorous STREAMS Philosophy. It leads to methodologies, methods and techniques for building, managing, evolving and innovating Enterprises that can be applied in practice but, like an Engineering approach, its methods are grounded in rigorous research and understanding.

Common to the three main strands, or tributaries, of STREAMS is the Use of Models: conceptual models of a variety of descriptions and characteristics ranging from highly complex mathematical models informed by volumes of quantitative data grounded in empirical observation and measurement to simple qualitative models expressing some simple truth. The purpose of the models is to guide Decision Making.

STREAMS is a set of ideas that are both transdisciplinary and integrative of theory and practice. It is "Trans-disciplinary" in the sense that it eclectically draws on ideas, theories, principles and methods from a range of academic disciplines - deliberately paying no heed to the traditional divisions in universities - or similar academic institutions. It is "Integrative" in the sense that is seeks to blend these ideas into a coherent, well-founded theoretical framework - but also incorporate emrpically grounded and proven ideas and practices from Practice, not just academic theory. STREAMS is not intended to be an academic exercise in the social science but theoretically-sound ideas and methods for practitioners in engineering enterprises.


Operational Research is an older Discipline of Practice, dating back to the 1960s or maybe the post-World War 2 era, that has clear relationships to Systems Thinking and Management Science. In many ways Operational Research can be regarded as the predecessor and forerunner of Real Enterprise Architecture. Had that discipline been the fundamental basis for the collation of ideas the acronym would have been "STORMS" - and indeed there is some reason to think this would have been a good set of disciplines/ideas to put together. However, STREAMS considers Real Enterprise Architecture to be a more modern form of Operational Research and more modern discipline appropriate for the 21st Century. Others consider Operational Research to be more or less synonymous with either Systems Thinking or Management Science - although some academics would ardently dispute this - and so would add little to the mix. Also STREAMS suggests a smooth confluence of ideas whereas STORMS suggests a violent tearing apart of ideas by a community. So we have STREAMS, not STORMS.

More information: Operational Research

Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking is the aggregative and integrative term used in STREAMS to refer to various Systems Thinking traditions, disciplines, theories and practices derived from a number of sources - both academic and practitioner. Following Prof. Michael Jackson, STREAMS divides Systems Thinking into three broad "traditions": Hard Systems Thinking, Soft Systems Thinking, and what Jackson shyly called "Coercive Systems Thinking" - but what in STREAMS we call more plainly "Systems of Power Thinking". Each tradition of Systems Thinking grew out of, and to an extent challenged, a certain set of philosophical assumptions. Hard Systems Thinking, for example, can be thought of as exemplifying the traditional realist-positivist assumptions that underpinned 18th, 19th and 20th Century Science and Engineering.

STREAMS attempts to integrate 'correct' principles from different philosophical traditions in a coherent framework that avoids the extremes of either principle or emphasis of dubious philosophies (given that nothing in Philosophy can ever be completely falsified and found to be 'incorrect').

More information: Systems Thinking

Real Enterprise Architecture

Real Enterprise Architecture is a Discipline of Practice - or Practitioner's Discipline - that seeks to establish guided, if not fully controlled, evolution of enterprises by establishing normative (governing) systems within and throughout the enterprise. These governing systems are based on the usage of a common, widely-shared coherent model of the enterprise and its context. It therefore comprises the two essential aspects of 1) model-making - constructing accurate and useful models - and 2) model-using - using models to make better decisions about the enterprise. Because of the scale and complexity of modern enterprises Enterprise Architecture as a discipline usually uses modern information technology (IT) - as opposed to traditional "pen-and-paper" - to implement and manage the model [see Ashby's Law - the model has to be of a similar level of complexity to the actual enterprise].

In this sense Enterprise Architecture is a new professional practice that is a part of "IT-Enabled" or "Computer-Assisted" Management. Real Enterprise Architecture is not a method (or "methodology") of IT - or Information and Communications Technology (ICT) - systems design. However, given the ubiquity and necessity of modern ICT to enterprises, Enterprise Architecture is often concerned with how ICT is used in enterprises.

   Many business-folk have never heard of Enterprise Architecture.
   Which is not surprising, because most of the literature in the 
   field suggests it is about IT, and only about IT. There 
   might be a few throwaway references somewhere to some blurry
   notion of 'business architecture', but that is about it. Hence
   of no relevance to everyday business really.
   Which is a problem, because real Enterprise Architecture is
   not much about IT at all. Or rather, although IT is significant,
   it is only one small part. [It] Turns out instead that that blurry
   'business architecture' is not something that can be skipped over
   in a rush down to the technical minutiae: it is the core of
   [Real] Enterprise Architecture.
   [Real] Enterprise Architecture is about the architecture - the
   structure - of the whole of the enterprise:
   [Real] Enterprise Architecture is the integration of everything
   the enterprise is and does.

Real Enterprise Architecture is a central foundation for STREAMS and regarded as a new evolution in the practice of enterprise management. It builds on a legacy of a more professional approach to enterprise management that has been evolving both in Practice and in Academia since the 1950s - and hence STREAMS seeks to not re-invent past knowledge - such as that developed in Systems Thinking, Operational Research and Management Science - but to re-use, re-cycle and re-capitulate such knowledge in a modern technological world.

More information: Real Enterprise Architecture

Management Science

Management Science can be characterised as the usage in organisations of scientific, mathematical models to (help to) solve organisational problems. According to Lancaster University:

        "Management Science is concerned with developing and applying models and concepts
         that help to illuminate management issues and solve managerial problems."
         (Lancaster University - Management Science)

Many organisational problems (or "issues") are fundamentally quantitative in nature, whether or not there is a representation as a mathematical formula (or set of formulae), and could be solved easily and quickly if managers were able to select and apply the right mathematical or numerical techniques. Management Science - or the study of it - makes those techniques available to managers and allows them to construct the right numerical or mathematical models that properly reflect some aspect of their enterprise and enable well-informed decisions to be made about that aspect or alternatives to be efficiently evaluated, without changing the organisation experimentally. Management Science has been closely associated with Operational Research - and could be regarded as the quantitative arm of the discipline. The methods and techniques of Management Science are discussed on the STREAMS Management Science pages.

In STREAMS, the numerical and mathematical models produced by managers in the course of making good decisions, need to be incorporated, integrated and made coherent with other models produced elsewhere in the enterprise to form a coherent enterprise model.

More information: Management Science

STREAMS Philosophy

The STREAMS Philosophy is a collated set of coherent philosophical principles and assumptions that underlie and support, in a truly foundational way, the STREAMS ideas. In a sense all the STREAMS ideas can be derived from the STREAMS Philosophy, though in practice many originated elsewhere - and have been retro-fitted into the STREAMS Confluence.

The STREAMS Confluence is the coming together of a set of ideas about how to build, change and manage enterprises.

More information: STREAMS Philosophy

Indexes / Bibliography

Author Index

The author index catalogues all the individuals who have made significant contributions to the subject-matters of STREAMS.

Topic Index

The topic index lists all the individually identified subjects included in the STREAMS confluence.

Bibliography / References

The Bibliography / References indexes the published books, journal articles and other publications referenced by STREAMS.

STREAMS Case Studies

Case-study based teaching is a method brought to prominence in the study of the Management of Enterprises by Harvard Business School - and in recent years has been extended into the social sciences more generally as the "case study method". The case study presents a selection of a real-world situation or scenario which is interpreted in the light of a particular theory to illustrate the theory. There is often a suggestion that the theory is more generally applicable. The strengths of case studies include that they are empirically grounded, that they are often quick and easy to develop, that they can be highly illustrative of the theory or problem and because they are drawn from the real-world they are realistic (unlike confected textbook examples) and can have a powerful effect on the thinking of the case-study students.

However, from a social science perspective, case studies have several severe weaknesses - including the "interpretivism problem", "the special-case problem", "the hubris problem" and the "unactionable description / historicism problem". The "interpretivism problem" - refers to a general problem with Interpretivism wherein the interpretation (and implied support for the theory) may be convincing more because of the quality of the rhetoric with which it is presented than any empirical evidence or theoretical merit. The "special-case problem" observes that the evidence in case studies may be highly selective, the case scenario itself untypical and "contra-" or disconfirming (of the theory) evidence consciously or unconsciously suppressed (or subject to 'bias'). This means that the conclusions are not generalizeable and the theory not more widely applicable. The "hubris problem" refers to the human cognitive habit - often unconscious - of attributing the cause of 'good outcomes' to themselves and of 'bad outcomes' to "external factors". This problem is particularly bad in organisational management where any good performance or behaviour of the organisation is attributed to the management whereas any bad performance or behaviours are due to "circumstances beyond our control" - such as market conditions, legislation, rogue employees etc. The "unactionable description / historicism problem" refers to the issue that the case study may degenerate into either pure description or a self-justifying explanation of historic facts from which no valid (scientific), testable theory of wider or future applicability can be extracted. Case studies therefore have a somewhat lesser standard of academic rigour than proper empirical studies (in the social sciences).

Nevertheless case studies have a place in the ongoing critical discourse that extracts objective knowledge (World 3 entities) from individual and small group interpretations and perceptions (World 2 entities) (see STREAMS Philosophy) - so long as they are accepted for what they are and not given overdue weight or credibility. They are above mere opinion - but below empirical studies; they are the observations, heuristics, tendencies and "rules-of-thumb" that need to be explained by real theories in sciences (hard and soft) and engineerings (hard and soft) where positivist experiment is not a practical possibility.

STREAMS therefore makes space for Case Studies here: Case Studies.

STREAMS Blogs and Book Reviews

Untested hypothesis, speculation and opinion from STREAMS authors can be found here: STREAMS Blogspace. Reviews of books relevant to STREAMS can be found here: STREAMS Book Reviews

STREAMS People Pages

The STREAMS People pages provide links and references to people who have been important in developing the STREAMS ideas and whose ideas have been included in the STREAMS Confulence.

STREAMS Education and Consultancy

STREAMS is an enterprise whose common, shared goal is to advance the management of the change in enterprises towards being more engineering-like - practical but based on knowledge and method - and less of a political black-art. It does this by freely exchanging knowledge of effective methods of organisational and technological change. STREAMS is not in the business of selling either Education or Consultancy services - and indeed many of the knowledge items, methods and techniques are available from academic sources for relatively low fees. However, some of the STREAMS contributors are very highly qualified or experienced or both, in their fields, and may be willing to assist in some form in driving and delivering enterprise transformation using the STREAMS Know-How. If your or your organisation are interested in acquiring some STREAMS education or consultancy services please send and email to outlining what you perceive your needs to be. This will be circulated to the STREAMS contributors, who may get in touch to see if they can provide some of the needed services.

While introductory modules may be taught at undergraduate level as part of other courses, essentially Systems Thinking, (Real) Enterprise Architecture and Management Science (an Operational Research) are post-graduate subjects (commercial certification training notwithstanding). The following pages list some of the education opportunities available.

Systems Thinking Education

Real Enterprise Architecture Education

A number of universities globally offer Master's degrees and postgraduate certificates in Enterprise Architecture.

Management Science (and Operational Research) Education

Becoming a STREAMS Author, Contributor or Reviewer

Fundamentally, the STREAMS Wiki is a wiki - a two-way communications channel where ideas on good practice can be exchanged and shared - and is therefore open to all knowledgeable parties to contribute to the level they wish to. However, unlike other Wikis on the Internet, the STREAMS Wiki seeks to maintain the quality of the content by adopting the peer review system from academia. So while all contributors are welcome to talk about the ideas presented - on the "Talk Pages" - only the content that has been through the peer review system can be linked into the STREAMS structure. Therefore the content-authoring and editing access to the wiki is restricted. If you would like to become a STREAMS author or editor, or indeed peer reviewer, please send an email outlining your professional (practitiioner) and academic qualifications, and your intended role and contribution to

Further guidance for potential and actual STREAMS authors ca be found here: STREAMS Author and Contributor Guidance

STREAMS Blogspace

The STREAMS Blogspace is an area where non-peer-reviewed articles can be lodged and discussed. The articles may be edited to insert links back to the STREAMS wiki. If you would like to become a STREAMS blogger please send an email to

Lexicon / Glossary

The meanings of the unusual terms used in the STREAMS Wiki are defined / described in the Lexicon / Glossary.


STREAMS is the copyright and intellectual property of Glossop Mallard Consulting Ltd., but is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike policy and license. By all means use it - but please acknowledge its provenance.


STREAMS Main Page Systems Thinking Real Enterprise Architecture Management Science Main Page#Indexes / Bibliography STREAMS Blogspace