Gartner urges more 'design thinking' to break enterprise architecture out of its silo

Summary:Design thinking -- already popular in business circles -- comes to IT. It will also change the shape of enterprise architecture.

According to a new statement from Gartner, most enterprise architecture (EA) initiatives "remain trapped in the IT department," and the consultancy recommends a new approach it calls "hybrid thinking" to break EA out and into the wider organization.

So what exactly is "hybrid thinking"?  Hybrid thinking is actually another way to describe design thinking, which is a holistic approach to problem solving -- versus throwing technical fixes at problems.

So how does this help enterprise architecture?  Gartner provides some flowery language, suggesting that it "combines the analytical mastery of architects with the intuitive originality of designers." In other words, human sensibilities are required to tackle complex, intractable issues.

Gartner's Nicholas Gall puts it this way:

“By integrating design thinking, which is already very popular in business circles but is virtually unknown in IT circles, enterprise architects can focus on the right tempo of operations, enabling them to center their outcomes on influencing people, rather than systems.”

Gall's proposal seems to extend the principles of Agile development methodologies, in which developers work closely with business users every step of the way. Along these lines, Gall urges directly involving users in testing and prototyping ideas early to get immediate feedback.

As part of this thinking, Gartner also predicts that, by 2013, more than 20% of organizations will explicitly design their businesses from the "outside in" – up from less than five percent in 2009. Not sure how in the world they came up with this stat, but it sounds good.

Topics: CXO, IT Priorities


Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. Joe is co-author, along with 16 leading industry leaders and thinkers, of the SOA Manifesto, which outlines the values and guiding principles of service orientation. He speaks frequently on cloud, SOA, data, and... Full Bio

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