SEA Change: How Sustainable EA Enables Business Success in Times of Disruptive Change

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Leo Laverdure and Alex Paul Conn


Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a key tool to help businesses transform themselves to meet changing business challenges. To do so, however, architectural methods must themselves be adapted to focus less on technology per se and more on how these technologies enable the business to survive and thrive over the long term—to be sustainable—in the shifting, uncertain business context. We call this shift to Sustainable Enterprise Architecture (SEA) a “SEA change”. The practice of SEA differs from the usual practice of EA in a number of ways. Sustainable architecting emphasizes the long-term perspective, focusing on how the enterprise can identify and respond effectively to a range of strategic disruptions. It is based on systems thinking; is continuous, iterative, and adaptive; and calls for integrated strategic planning, architecting, governance, and learning. It considers sustainability the primary system quality and organizes other system qualities in support of sustainability. The enterprise’s approach to sustainability is recorded in a formal sustainability architecture, which describes the threats to sustainability in the business context and defines sustainability goals, models, principles, policies, and standards to address them. It pays close attention to strategic resources and the pragmatic integration of societal, economic, and environmental considerations. It recognizes that sustainable architecting is a cultural change, and provides a set of essential checklists to guide that change.

pp 9-21

About authors

Leo Laverdure is a managing partner of SBSA Partners, LLC. He has led a number of Enterprise and Solution Architecture programs at HP and other companies, serving as lead architect for HP’s Adaptive Enterprise and heading up their Architect profession. Leo holds a BA from Harvard University. He is a member of the Sustainability Commission for the town of Groton, Massachusetts.

Dr. Alex Paul Conn is a managing partner of SBSA Partners, LLC. He has extensive experience as both a practitioner and professor in computer systems architecture and engineering, concentrating on the early business-critical development phases. His focus on system qualities stresses the importance of minimizing the disruptions introduced by changes in systems architectures and associated policies and governance. Alex received his PhD from University of California, Berkeley.


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