Reinterpreting TOGAF’s Enterprise Architecture Principles Using a Cybernetic Lens

In the literature, there are many definitions of Enterprise Architecture (EA), but most of them have three items in common: elements, relationships and principles. Among these, principles represent an essential element in the definition of EA, and some researchers posit that they are the main element in this definition. However, despite the recent advances in defining enterprise architecture principles (EAPs), this notion is suffering from the lack of a theoretical foundation that provides a logical framework for defining them. Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model (VSM) and its application to IT governance, the Viable Governance Model (VGM), have shown to be comprehensive blueprints for designing viable organizations and IT governance arrangements, respectively. Similarly, in recent realizations of EA, the design of the whole organization, and not just the IT, is brought into consideration. Therefore, this paper aims to establish whether the laws and principles of cybernetics, especially those embodied in the VSM and the VGM, can provide a sound theoretical basis for deriving EA principles. This paper investigates the principles defined in the Open Group’s TOGAF based on the theoretical concepts drawn from the VSM/VGM and cybernetics more broadly. This investigation demonstrates that the principles in TOGAF can be derived from the laws and principles of cybernetics.