The problem arises when business strategy needs to cross over into world of IT operations for implementation. Or when IT strategy needs to cross into business operations for implementation. And more often than not, this is the case. This has been quite nicely described in an article [“Strategic Alignment: A model for organisational transformation through information technology,” in T. Kochan & M. Unseem, eds,Transforming Organisations, Oxford University Press, NY, 1992] by Henderson and Venkatraman, quite a few years back.
And each time the cross over happened, translation is required to and fro between these organisational units.Enterprise architecture function is on the cross-roads of these four arms of business, carrying out that translation. Since EA function is at the boundary of strategy and operations, it has to deal with both 'Micro' and 'Macro' at the same time. For the same reason it also has to deal with 'What' and 'How' at the same time. The key is to understand, that while EA is accountable for 'What' and 'Macro' part, it is responsible for 'How' and 'Micro' parts.
In lay persons terms, at strategic level the EAs are influencers. Their advise is accepted in making decisions. This role is bestowed upon them because they are thought to be capable of making things happen on the ground. The decision makers listen to EA about 'What' part because they expect EAs to take responsibility for the 'How' part.
Following this logic clarifies the duality of EA role.
- Strategizing and architecting at Macro level
- Consultancy and Governance at Micro level
While EAs want to spend more time on former than later, their wish may or may not be granted based on maturity of the IT organisation. And I am afraid, that is a sad fact of life in enterprise IT.