Enterprise Design Framework: Big Picture

I enjoyed reading Intersection: How Enterprise Design Bridges the Gap Between Business, Technology and People by Milan Guenther when it was published. Since then I keep referring to the book for insight and recommend it to other people who design and deliver digital services. I also wrote an Amazon review to prove it.

Milan and the folks at eda.c managed to put a set of different design disciplines in a meaningful context with their enterprise design framework. In itself, this accomplishment deserves recognition.

As every other model the enterprise design framework makes conscious decisions to include some aspects of the modelled domain while excluding others. With a respectful and appreciative nod to Milan and friends I’d like to discuss some things I view differently.

The big picture is the first of the five layers of the enterprise design framework. Its three elements are identity[enterprise] architecture and experience. The intersection of these elements is labeled enterprise design.

While many equally useful definitions of architecture exist, I find this one particularly useful:

All architecture is design but not all design is architecture. Architecture represents the significant design decisions that shape a system, where significant is measured by cost of change. —Grady Booch

Consequently, I have difficulties seeing enterprise design as a subset of enterprise architecture. If I have to speak about enterprise architecture, I’d view the relationship the other way around. (The term architecture is abused so much that I hardly find value in using it anymore. I’m quite happy with design as used by Herbert Simon.)

The enterprise design framework’s briefing poster says: “Take a few steps back and look at your enterprise from some distance. What is it all about, why does it exist?” To me, this asks about the why people choose to participate in the enterprise, i.e. participants’ motivation. This then seems to be fairly well aligned with the time-honoured tradition of exploring stakeholders and their interests.

Identity (described to relate to branding work) seems to be only one aspect of that exploration rather than a distinct concern at the big-picture level. Other relevant aspects are purpose and values (hat-tip to Tom Graves).

Experience design provides valuable methods for conducting this exploration, although I think I’d discuss this at a lower level of the framework. I’m not yet sure where, but the anatomy level definitely will have to talk about experiences. (More on anatomy in a later post.)

So, this post is not about the enterprise design framework being wrong or about me being right. I just view and do some things differently…and learn as I go.


5 thoughts on “Enterprise Design Framework: Big Picture

  1. Pingback: Enterprise Design Framework: Anatomy | Oliver's Blog

  2. Pingback: Enterprise Design Framework: Frames | Oliver's Blog

  3. Pingback: The service concept revisited #3: where are the people? | Unfashionable

  4. Nate Gerber

    Hi Oliver!

    I’m a fellow soujorneur and creative soul hailing from Toronto, Canada. Also very much a big fan of Tom Graves work, and count Tom as a valued friend on the other side of the pond.

    I happen to be finding your blogs incredibly useful. Just wanted to hat tip to you 🙂 would love to learn more about what you’re up to in the world!

    Best regards,


    1. Oliver Baier Post author

      Hi Nate,

      thank you for your kind words. I’d like to find out what I’m up to in the real word, too 😉

      I’ve just turned independent, so this statement is not just ironic. Conceptual design / conceptual architecture is very hard to sell, although may people begin to appreciate it when they see it in action. Let’s see where this takes me.



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