BLURB: System theory for enterprise and business 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.

Yet few enterprise, business and software architects recognise or understand the breadth and depth of system theory.

This work is written for everybody interested in system theory and its practical applications in defining business capabilities.


This work draws on various theories to explain and discuss what a system is.

It starts from a description theory based on the perspective of an evolutionary biologist.

It looks at systems through the lenses of the scientific method, type theory and the philosophy most compatible with them.

It shows where system theory is applied in enterprise and business architecture methods and modelling languages.


The ambition of this work is to prompt responses like those below.

·         "All our enterprise/solution architects follow the principles outlined in this work.”

·         "This work is central to our university course in Information Systems/Computer Science/Systems Engineering; since it brings together ideas about society/culture change, computer science, solution design, project management, and technology road mapping.”

·         “This work convinced me (scientist/philosopher/mathematician) to adopt a practical idealist philosophy.”


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

It might be seen as a 21st century integration and extension of “An Introduction to Cybernetics” by W. Ross Ashby, and "Data and Reality" by William Kent,

The discussions of abstraction might be seen as reminiscent of “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas R Hofstadter.


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

It shows how service contracts, business processes and organization charts can be seen as applications of system theory.

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.



·          “An Introduction to Cybernetics” W. Ross Ashby, Chapman and Hall, London, 1956 (pdf document now available on the internet).

·         "Data and Reality", William Kent, originally 1978 (more recently AuthorHouse, 2000, ISBN, 1420898884, 9781420898880).

·          “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” Douglas R Hofstadter: originally published in 1979: 20th anniversary edition with a new preface by the author, ISBN: 9780140289206.