Enterprise as a System-of-Systems


My journey to understand the Enterprise started when I met Will Hopper, a co-author, of 'The Puritan Gift'. The first management principle in the appendix of the book is:

"All successful organizations, however simple consist of systems within a system".

The following questions came out of this simple statement:

  • What is the organization as a system?
  • What are the systems within the system?
  • How are these systems changed?

There have been many attempts to answer these questions. Some have been organization specific, some with terminology that few within the enterprise would be able to understand, etc.

I wanted to understand the enterprise without inventing anything new. Our current practices should be close as we have had some successful organizations. I have explored the following areas:

Overview of the Enterprise Ontology

One of the necessary elements of a systems approach to understanding the enterprise is an Enterprise Ontology or Conceptual Model. This model is patterned after Figure 2 of ISO 15288:2015. This has been a very important improvement in understanding the enterprise.

Overview of Enterprise as a System of Systems Conceptual Model for System Breakdown Structure

This model captures some of the key elements identified in an enterprise.

AVPD and Enterprise SoS Architecture Description Framework.

This following process has been used to create the Enterprise SoS Architecture Description Framework.

Process to Create Sys ADF, Create an SD using the Sys ADF and then Create an ADF and AD for a System-of-Interest.

System descriptions have been created for all of the systems identified in the ontology.

Enterprise Systems from the Enterprise SoS Conceptual Model and Typing

An underlying assumption now is that an Enterprise Architecture may actually be a set of architecture descriptions that are created from light weight Architecture Frameworks created for a specific class of systems-of-Interest. (more on this on the main site).

Enterprise SoS Viewpoints

The following viewpoints / views have been identified from the AVPD to design the Architecture Description Framework.

Viewpoint Relationships Enterprise (SoS)


A prototype Enterprise SoS Architecture Description Framework is now being tested.


NOTE: This approach has also tested the concept that an organization may use many light weight Architecture Description Frameworks to describe the full enterprise. This approach provides for a modular system of systems approach to the enterprise to include all forms of technological systems.

See the following: