Enterprisography - Views and Viewpoints

As used here, the term "enterprisography" refers to the techniques and tools used to capture and analyze information about enterprises.  The sections below consist of sample architectural views that may or may not prove useful in modeling entire enterprises and subsystems of organizations.   


Enterprise ecosystems

Multiple enterprises interact with each other in marketplace environments. Increasingly, partnerships of supply chains compete against another partnerships of supply chains to gain market share. It may be somewhat arbitrary to distinguish the internal complexity of an organization from the relationships across the ecosystem.  Generally when we talk about enterprise ecosystems we look at relationships among enterprises, not within enterprises


The purpose of the ecosystem perspective is to understand the dynamics among enterprises.
  • Descriptive - Ecosystem views are descriptive of the supply chains and alliance networks that involve multiple enterprises.  Metrics on flows within ecosystems can provide significant business value, if the data is accurate and timely.
  • Prescriptive - The very idea of enterprise ecosystems is a possible prescription.  Based on Coase's Law there are those who claim that technology brings down transaction costs to where they are not a barrier to extreme specialization. 
  • Predictive - The concept of business ecosystem can help us predict the emergence of complementary enterprises whenever there is a breakthrough that becomes commercialized.  In the reverse case, when the central core of an industry declines, it predictably tends to take down its partners and complementors.

Organization structures

One of the most common ways of thinking about the architecture of enterprise is the organization chart. Everyone is interested in the “org chart” because it lays out many of the important functional specializations and power relationships in the enterprise. This tends not to be a stable architecture, because in most enterprises the chart itself, as well as incumbent responsibilities of groups and individuals, is in a constant state of flux. Organizational structures included hierarchy, matrix, M-corp, etc.



The viewpoint of business intent covers the range from the overall business model of the enterprise (how we make money) to operational goals and objectives.  The other aspects of the business (including IT), can be evaluated in terms of how they support, or do not support, specific aspects of intent.



The purpose of understanding business intent is to focus attention on and account for the motivating force that is behind business actions and decisions.


Power architecture

The basic relationship in most enterprises is that of employer and employee, extended through limited power sharing to that of boss and subordinate. Manifestations of power include responsibility, accountability, authority, autonomy, etc.  Power is kind of the dark side of sociality, and not often explicitly described aside from the formal organization chart.  But “everyone knows” the power of the boss’s secretary, the superstar developer, etc. whose power is incommensurate with their formal role.


A key dimension of power within the enterprise is described by Berle and Means in their book The Modern Corporation and Private Property , 1932, Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means:  “have we any justification for assumption that those in control of a modern corporation will also choose to operate it in the interests of the owners? The answer to this question will depend on the degree to which the self-interest of those in control may run parallel to the interests of ownership and, insofar as they differ, on the checks on the use of power which may be established by political, economic, or social conditions... If we are to assume that the desire for personal profit is the prime force motivating control, we must conclude that the interests of control are different from and often radically opposed to those of ownership; that the owners most emphatically will not be served by a profit-seeking controlling group.”


The purpose of a power-oriented viewpoint is generally  to understand how things get done, how power structures align with roles and accountability, with processes, and other aspects of the enterprise.

Roles and accountabilities

Roles and accountabilities constitute a design pattern where organizational roles are populated by individuals who are accountable for delivering negotiated outcomes to other roles. Negotiated terms and conditions (funding, authority, resources, etc.) can be associated with the primary deliverables. (Haeckel, 2008)


Decision architecture

Enterprises encounter steady streams of decisions in the course of doing business.  These range from simple front-line decisions with customers or clients to complex and far-ranging strategic decisions, such as a corporate merger or acquisition. The key here is that reduction of uncertainty in the decision-making process depends on the information that reduces uncertainty to the level where a decision can be made with confidence.


The purpose of a decision architecture is to create a key linkage point on the one hand between business processes on the one hand, and data structures and flows, on the other.  This builds on the assumption that most, if not all, enterprise data is a concern for making informed decisions.
  • Descriptive - This is primarily descriptive
  • Prescriptive - Some consultants aim to improve the decision-making faculty.
  • Predictive - Analysis of decision-making style and patterns can provide insight into how an enterprise is likely to respond to given situations

Processes and procedures

Process is linked with procedure to signify the organized activities of the operational side of the enterprise, where processes are relatively deterministic and repeatable. This is an area where business has focused massive attention, on the assumption that ICT can be used most effectively, to enforce procedures, to support repetition, and to take over from people various behaviors that can be completely codified. This is also an area where the architectural view has spawned a number of tools to help the practitioner.


The purpose of process modeling is wide-ranging.  This is a perspective that helps focus efficiency and cost containment, as well as designing behavior of the business and the IT support for this behavior.
  • Descriptive - This is a very robust descriptive approach, to  the point that business process often is the only approach considered.
  • Prescriptive - Some process patterns are prescriptive, or seen as best practice.  In more and more cases, processes are being standardized, and those standardizations form a strong basis for prescriptions
  • Predictive - Good process analysis can definitely predict impacts of process changes, or changes in the situation.  This is especially true when simulation tools to examine the detailed dynamics of processes.


The idea of work practice is specifically juxtaposed against the process or procedural viewpoint. At the heart of this view is the recognition that practitioners have various skills and know-how that are brought to bear when called upon. Practitioners form communities based on learning and improvement of their knowledge and skills. This includes specific types of role-players, such as mentor and legitimate peripheral participant. (Lave, 1991) This sets up specific kinds of relationships between master and apprentice, or similar senior-junior practitioner complementary role-playing. Practices deal in both skills and lore. Practices have processes, and they participate in processes that invoke various practices.


Boundary architecture

This reflects how boundaries are created and bridged among communities of practice by boundary objects. Star and Griesemer identify four types of boundary object:

  1. Repositories of modular, indexed collections of objects that people from different worlds can draw on without direct negotiation with each other;
  2. ideal types as commonly understood abstractions;
  3. coincident boundaries as concepts that have common scope for participating communities, but that have different internal contents in each; and
  4. standardized forms that capture data from various viewpoints of discipline and practice.

An example of boundary objects are method-based work products, which span specialized practices that work together to produce software.


The purpose of the boundary and boundary object point of view is to extend the practice perspective, and focus on the information needs for different practices and disciplines to be able to work together.  This information perspective feeds into application and data development.
  • Descriptive - The boundary viewpoint is primarily descriptive, of either the present or preferred situation.
  • Prescriptive - Taking a boundary point of view is not automatically prescriptive.  It is more exploratory.
  • Predictive - When groups are brought into a need to work together, it is predictable that boundary objects will be useful, and will most likely arise. 

Institutional architecture

As we use the term here, "institutional" refers to organizational elements that shape enterprise behavior based on established custom or law (e.g. “the institution of marriage”), as used by institutional economists. (North, 2005). Organizational design is largely about the selection of institutional elements to be applied. A key design point is how to enforce or constrain institutional forms through technology. 



The purpose of studying the institutional architecture is that these institutions intersect with all parts of the enterprise, including the culture, the processes, the branding and messaging, etc.  In particular they form the basis of much of the encoding that is supported by ICT.
  • Descriptive - An institutional analysis can describe the current structure of the enterprise, as well as articulate the impact of institutional changes.
  • Prescriptive - Institutions themselves are often sources of prescriptiveness.  Models of enterprise are often very prescriptive about institutional patterns, even though the designers may not realize this explicitly
  • Predictive - Certain enterprise types would tend to predict various institutional patterns in their makeup

Brand architecture

There is a branch of marketing devoted to study of brands. People in that discipline use the term “brand architecture”. This  “reflects the extent to which the brand spans product categories, subcategories, and markets,” (Aaker, 2004) and addresses the scope of a given brand in relation to other company brands, as well as its relation to competitor brands and portfolios. Technology can project the brand, to make the business system visible.


The purpose of a focus on brand is based on the realization that the brand is the identity of the enterprise and its outward manifestation.  This can either be supported or thwarted by any of many functions and organizations in the enterprise, so that the study and understanding of branding can be central to the overall understanding of the enterprise.
  • Descriptive - Brands tend to be highly thought through, using tools of marketing specialists.  Other parts of the business (including the IT function) can benefit from a deep understanding of this essential aspect of the enterprise
  • Prescriptive - Any number of firms exist to make prescriptions about branding ideas and initiatives. For our purposes, we would encourage those prescriptions to include considerations of how branding and messaging impact the actions and structure of all other parts of the enterprise.
  • Predictive - A study of branding should be predictive about how things are done within the enterprise.  The extent of match or mismatch on those dimensions should also be predictive of success or failure of the enterprise itself.

Cultural architecture

Sometimes referred to as “corporate culture”. Hard-nosed business people take culture very seriously. “In all of my business career, I would have always said that culture is one of the five or six things you worry about if you're a leader. You worry about markets, and competitors, and financial assets and strategy. And somewhere on the list is culture. What I learned at IBM is that culture isn’t part of the game. It is the game.” (Gerstner, 2002)


The purpose of viewing the enterprise from a cultural point of view is to help assure the effectiveness of interventions (solutions, applications, consulting, etc.).  It is much easier to implement changes that are in keeping with the culture that those that are not.
  • Descriptive - A good descriptive representation of the cultures of an enterprise can shed light on various important issues and how they can be addressed
  • Prescriptive - Cultural practices can be designed, and there is a significant consulting industry to do just that.  An example is Sara Moulton Reger's technique -- patented, practiced and written up in her book Can Two Rights Make a Wrong: Insights from IBM's Tangible Culture Approach.
  • Predictive - The ability to perceive and understand cultural factors can lead to predictions of how various interventions and stimuli will be received by organizations. 

Social networks

In addition to any formal organizational structure, a lot of what is accomplished in organizations is done informally, in spite of the standard systems. A discipline has grown up around studying patterns of informal interaction, and forms the basis for this architectural view. Tools and applications address social networking to enable communities of interest and practice. (Granovetter, 1973)


The purpose of the social network viewpoint is to get an angle on how the enterprise works beyond the official organization structures and processes.  It seems commonplace to observe that the business of the enterprise gets done in spite of the formal systems.  The informal networks and channels that are observed in the current situation may give clues about opportunities to redesign the formal to better conform with the way people are getting the job done.
  • Descriptive - Mostly descriptive, it seems
  • Prescriptive - Possible to prescribe certain measures to foster certain kinds of networking behavior.
  • Predictive - Certain kinds of formal structures spawn recognizable types of social network configurations.  It is apparently commonplace to find the wily clerk in the mold of Radar O'Reilly in military organizations. 

Emotional architecture

Ties in to branding and other aspects of business.  It is not easy to represent this, or even to discern it, but this is a major influence on buying behavior, employee productivity, customer relations, etc. 

Emotions of interest include attraction, desire, repulsion, expectation, excitement, enthusiasm, anger, outrage, joy, sorrow, altruism, fear, greed, etc.


Semantic architecture

The semantic architecture cuts across these other architectural view listed under "enterprisography". It is a way of exploring what people really talk about and worry about within the context of their shared enterprising. This approach calls for a separation of concepts from the language that is used to express the concepts. This is a very tricky matter, but important for effective analysis and positive intervention in the affairs of communities seeking improved communication, coordination, or collaboration.


The purpose of semantic viewpoint is to focus intense attention on the meaning conveyed within the enterprise by participants. The basic idea is to understand the concerns of the enterprise as a precursor to making positive and effective interventions.
  • Descriptive - This approach is generally aimed at description of the concerns and thinking of the participants in the enterprise.
  • Prescriptive - The main way that business language is becoming prescriptive is through controlled vocabularies and standardized transaction patterns, as exemplified by RosettaNet. From a leadership point of view, Steve Haeckel reminds us that Confucianism puts an emphasis on rectification of names.  "A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. ... Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."  In all kinds of enterprise there is a role for leadership to assure that communications are clear.  This is acknowledged in certain situations through formalized or scripted language, and there are consultants who help focus on language content (emotionally-charged words in customer conversations, etc.)
  • Predictive - One thing that is easily predicted is that in any enterprise situation there will be conflicts of understanding, based on how different communities in that enterprise use language.  We can predict that this situation will be exacerbated any time new groups need to interact or merge operations, to the extreme case of mergers and acquisitions at a corporate level.

Capability modeling

Capabilities provide ways of looking at an organizational entity, (e.g., organizational area such as business area) from the perspective of what the organizational entity is able to do or provide in the way of useful affordances toward the accomplishment of desired results (e.g., business results for a business entity). A result is something valued by the organizational entity or one of its stakeholders, and elicits work or other investment in order that such a result can be realized. A capability represents an ability of the organizational entity to provide or produce some result. A capability net results from analyzing dependencies among various capabilities that have been identified.

Capabilities are distinguished from processes, in that processes rely on a time-ordered sequence for definition, whereas capabilities have no explicit time sequence and instead facilitate achievement of a result.  The basic technique for building such a model is through the usual methods of understanding business areas -- reviewing documents and talking to business people.  In this case the mindset is not "What do you do?" but rather "What do you need in order to achieve required or desired results?"

The preceding language is a simplified version of the description to be found in United States Patent 7580913 (Complete patent can be found at this URL: http://bit.ly/bRQI2Z )


The purpose of the capability perspective is to understand what the enterprise needs to be able to achieve, independent of the sequential or isolated activities that it uses to achieve its objectives.  From this perspective, the capability viewpoint is orthogonal to process and procedure viewpoints, and even from the practice viewpoint, since a practice may include multiple capabilities, and vice versa.
  • Descriptive - Capability models form a kind of calculus, between the various costs to provide capabilities and the value that they provide to various role-players inside and outside the enterprise.
  • Prescriptive -With a capability model it is possible to explore dependencies that can point out missing or redundant capabilities in the chain of linkages that build toward a desired result. 
  • Predictive - It is predictable that any capability identified will have upstream and downstream dependencies.  It is also predictable that there will be process snippets embedded in many of them and that a larger process view may be needed to understand how capabilities are to fire off in the course of doing business.