Can #entarch work in a fundamentally political organisation?

All organisations experience politics. There seem to be 3 kinds:

  • internal political wrangling (office politics) in organisations bigger than 3 people
  • external politics in which the organisation interacts with its environment
  • actual real Politics which affect governmental or quasi non-governmental organisations more directly

I’m struggling to find much writing on the first topic from the point of view of enterprise architecture. Given that EA is about turning vision and strategy into effective change, I feel this is an omission.

At the beginning of the chapter on Political Strategy in Mintzberg’s “Strategy Safari” book there is a great quote from George Eliot which I think gets to the core of the problem:

Fancy what a game of chess would be if all the chessmen had passions and intellects, more or less small and cunning; if you were not only uncertain about your adversary’s men, but a little uncertain also about your own; if your knight could shuffle himself on to a new square by the sly; if your bishop, in disgust at your castling, could wheedle your pawns out of their places; and if your pawns, hating you because they are pawns, could make away from their appointed posts that you might get checkmate on a sudden. You might be the longest-headed of deductive reasoners, and yet you might be beaten by your own pawns. You would be especially likely to be beaten, if you depended arrogantly on your mathematical imagination, and regarded your passionate pieces with contempt.

I think that if we are going to successfully run an enterprise architecture function in a political environment, we need to be clear on what the purpose is, and perhaps more importantly who’s purpose it is. Does an EA function exist to optimise outcomes using analytical methods, or to optimise political outcomes for a particular stakeholder group?

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