In order to perform optimally and to implement changes successfully, enterprises must operate as a unified and integrated whole. Unity and integration can only be achieved through deliberate enterprise development (including design, engineering, and implementation) and governance.
Enterprises are essentially social systems, of which the elements are human beings in their role of social individuals, bestowed with appropriate authority and bearing the corresponding responsibility. The operating principle of enterprises is that these human beings enter into and comply with commitments regarding the products (services) that they create (deliver). These coordination acts occur in universal patterns, called transactions, together with the concerned production act.
Note. Human beings may be supported by technical artifacts of all kinds, notably by ICT systems. Therefore, enterprises are often referred to as socio-technical systems. However, only human beings are responsible and accountable for what the supporting technical artifacts do.
There are two distinct perspectives on enterprises (as on all systems): function and construction. All other perspectives are a subdivision of one of these. Accordingly, there are two distinct kinds of models: black-box models and white-box models.
White-box models are objective; they regard the construction of a system. Black-box models are subjective; they regard a function of a system, which is a relationship between the system and some stakeholder(s).
Both perspectives are needed for developing enterprises.
Note. For convenience sake, we talk about the business of an enterprise when taking the function perspective of the customer, and about its organization when taking the construction perspective.
In order to manage the complexity of a system (and to reduce and manage its entropy), one must start the constructional design of the system with its ontological model, which is a fully implementation independent model of the construction and the operation of the system. Moreover, an ontological model has a modular structure and its elements are (ontologically) atomic.
For enterprises the meta model of such models is called enterprise ontology. For information systems the meta model is called information system ontology.
Note. At any moment in the life time of a system, there is only one ontological model, capturing its actual construction, though abstracted from its implementation. The ontological model of a system is comprehensive and concise, and extremely stable.
It is an ethical necessity for bestowing authorities on the people in an enterprise, and having them bear the corresponding responsibility, that these people are able to internalize the (relevant parts of the) ontological model of the enterprise, and to constantly validate the correspondence of the model with the operational reality.
Note. It is a duty of enterprise engineers to provide the means to the people in an enterprise to internalize its ontological model.
To ensure that an enterprise operates in compliance with its strategic concerns, these concerns must be transformed into generic functional and constructional normative principles, which guide the (re-) development of the enterprise, in addition to the applicable specific requirements. A coherent, consistent, and hierarchically ordered set of such principles for a particular class of systems is called an architecture. The collective architectures of an enterprise are called its enterprise architecture.
Note. The term architecture is often used (also) for a model that is the outcome of a design process, during which some architecture is applied. We do not recommend this homonymous use of the word.
For achieving and maintaining unity and integration in the (re-) development and operation of an enterprise, organizational measures are needed, collectively called governance. The organizational competence to take and apply these measures on a continuous basis is called enterprise governance.