BLURB: System theory for architects

“The most important work on EA and applied System Theory today.” 

“Makes EA more powerful, coherent and usable.”


It is said that enterprise architecture regards the enterprise as a system of systems.

Enterprise and solution architects are supposed to study business systems and design changes to them.

Regarding those changes, architects deliver decision support to executives and design guidance to system developers.

The concepts and principles of systems can help them to do this efficiently and effectively.


You would assume therefore that architects know general system theory, but for the most part, you’d be mistaken.

So, this work is written for enterprise and solution architects

It is relevant also to teachers of Information Systems, Computer Science and Systems Engineering courses.


System theory ranges widely over

·         the abstraction of systems from regular business operations.

·         the description of system structures and behaviors.

·         complexity – both essential and accidental

·         information, communication, language and logic

·         data structures and process structures.


This work gives insights into:

·         system theory’s origins in biology and sociology

·         system theory concepts and principles

·         systems thinking branches like system dynamics and second order cybernetics

·         the evolution of humankind, language, logic and the “types” essential to computing

·         the application of system theory in the architecture of human and computer activity systems

·         the difference between agile system development and agile systems

·         tradeoffs between this and that way to modularise a system.


The work refreshes and integrates ideas that have slipped from attention in recent years.

It is partly inspired by “An Introduction to Cybernetics” W. Ross Ashby, Chapman and Hall, London, 1956.

It may be seen as a 21st century version of "Data and Reality", William Kent, 1978 (more recently AuthorHouse, 2000, ISBN, 1420898884, 9781420898880).

The discussions of abstraction might be seen as reminiscent of “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” Douglas R Hofstadter 1979: (new edition ISBN: 9780140289206)


The work explores what it means to formalise social systems and digitise business capabilities.

It clarifies the uses of abstraction in modelling systems using graphical languages (like UML and ArchiMate) and architecture frameworks (like TOGAF and Zachman).

And so helps architects to explain what can and cannot be achieved by enterprise architecture.


Some say enterprise architecture has lost it way, pulled one way towards technology road mapping and the other way towards business management consulting.

This work positions enterprise architecture as filling the space between sociological systems thinking and IT strategy.

It explains general ways of thinking that can help you make practical decisions about the application of specific methods.

It also addresses distinctions between society and the individual, actors and roles, identity and change.

It may challenge what you believed beforehand about description and reality.