One of the manifestations of the mid-Level 2 sticking point referred to in an earlier post is around Enterprise Architecture (EA).  At the risk of over simplifying, way back, most IT shops had some kind of Technology Architecture (TA) capability – usually focused on selecting and enforcing standards, providing an overall schema and logic for physical hardware, networks, and perhaps delivering technology roadmaps (e.g., what gets retired, what replaces it, how).  Typically, as TA evolves (matures?), there is an increased focus on the information and data domains, and TA becomes Information Technology Architecture (ITA).  Note: sometimes the labels don’t properly align with the reality, so we find Technology Architecture efforts referred to as ITA, but they really do a poor job of addressing the information domain, and ITA efforts referred to as EA that do a poor job of addressing the business process domain.

The next shift is when ITA evolves into Enterprise Architecture – and the really big shifts occur.  One way to characterize this shift is that EA becomes very visible, (compared to TA and ITA’s inclination to be in the background and transparent to the business.  EA surfaces and addresses the big issues around business operating model, and truly begins to connect business and IT in new and powerful ways.  But to my point about discontinuity, the shift does not occur because you work harder or smarter at ITA.  Rather, ITA, which tends to be IT-driven, inside out, as it were, and bottom up (to a degree) morphs into EA which tends to be business-driven (or at least business focused) and top down (to a degree).

So, I think one lesson here is, if you get to be really good at ITA, you are going to have to re-think how you got there, your management structures and organizational implications, and how those must change in order to get from ITA to EA, and get to Level 3.