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Degrees of simplicity

Finally, there is a simple answer to all those tasked with organizing chaos! And the answer is ...drums rolling... 42!

Well, not really. The actual answer is C = F^3.11

where C is the complexity in Standard Complexity Units (SCUs) and F is the number of business functions implemented within the system. In his whitepaper - Mathematics of IT Simplification - Roger Sessions (of ObjectWatch)lays out foundation for quantifying complexity (with a U.S. Patent 7,756,735 for a mathematically-based methodology for minimizing the complexity of large IT systems and enterprise architectures).

This is a huge step forward - "you cannot control what you cannot measure" as Tom DeMarco noted in his "Controlling Software Projects" book


Forest behind trees: Story of Enterprise Architecture

I was listening to Story of Human Language audio course the other day. Dr. John McWhorter was explaining how European languages came up with the idea of gender for inanimate objects. The example he was using was silverware in German, with spoon being “he” (der Löffel), fork being “she” (die Gabel), and knife being of neuter gender (das Messer). The current theory maintains that this is the result of gradual changes, small steps taken one at the time that lead to the situation as we see it now. And each of the steps made perfect sense to the people at the time. Yet, the notion of gender in a language, left alone attribution of a specific gender to an object, appears manifestly arbitrary to non-native speakers.

It had occurred to me that this could be a perfect metaphor for ad-hoc Enterprise Architecture without roadmaps: a series of decisions that were a good idea at the time leading to a sorry state of chaos because there was no life-line stretching from "as-is" into the future state

The second distinction made by the professor was that of a language complexity inversely reflecting advancement of a society. Despite popular notion that the more evolved society would have more complex languages, in fact the opposite is true. A language used in a fast paced society loses many accoutrements considered necessary in less advanced societies (e.g. compare the etiquette of a French Royal court of Louis XIV with that of modern France) .

Applied to Enterprise Architecture this would imply that in the organizations with evolved EA programs the IT systems landscape will be less – not more – complex, and more efficient at the same time.