I am learning Mandarin with my daughter at the moment. Mainly to keep one step ahead of her so that I can help her with her homework. In order for non-Chinese natives to understand the Mandarin language, help with input of Mandarin into Computers a romanization of the Chinese language is used called pinyin
The character for water in Mandarin is
The pinyin for water is shuĭ
In English this is pronounced shway with the “way” pronounced with a tone that goes down and then up. Click here to here what it sounds like
So what has all this got to do with IT you may say? Well at the weekend I was reading an interesting blog from Peter Kretzman entitled Complexity Isn't Simple: multiple causes of IT failure. There where some interesting debates in the comments regarding requirements analysis. As an aside my view on this is that it is the complexity of requirements and number of requirements that are a major factor in IT failure. Peter mentions how the telephone has evolved over the years from what it was in the 1980's to what it is now. Think the iPhone or Android phone today comapred to what you had in the 1990's. What would have happened if organizations had tried to make the iPhone in the 1990's? Probably a disaster. Anyone remember trying to get e-readers in the 1980's? Remember the Newton? The mobile phone of today has built up over time. At each stage adding a little bit more value. Making sure that additions work and integrate. This is what organizations should do with new ideas. Start small and then build up over time. At each stage adding a little bit more value. Rather than trying to do it all at once. Something that can help you in this endeavour is a set of guiding principles to ensure new bits fit and help the whole. Maybe an Enterprise Architecture? But that is another story.
Back to pinyin. Whilst reading this I thought about how we use Enterprise Architecture to not only articulate a single version of the truth for an organizations future state but also as a means of ensuring that all parts of an organisation speak a common language and understand each other. It is the pinyin of business.
So if Mandarin is the language of the IT organisation. Lots of symbols, which are meaningless to the rest of the organisation. Then if all those who use speak in romanization languages are the non-IT departments of an organisation how do they communicate with each other? Pinyin of course. Mandarin (IT) speakers understand it and are taught it. Non-mandarin (non-IT) speakers can relate it to their language and understand it also. Therefore pinyin is a form of Enterprise Architecture.
Which all relates to some thinking that I have held true for sometime. Enterprise Architecture is nothing new. It is an approach and a way of doing things. It is more important to use the principles and approaches that Enterprise Architecture provides and advocates rather than going around spouting we must do Enterprise Architecture, we need an Enterprise Architecture. Just do the right think and call it whatever is meaningful to your organisation. Find what it's pinyin translation is.