Much has been written about the human factors in the IT-business. In his renowned book “Peopleware” (1987), Tom De Marco describes typical social behavior during high-pressure IT-projects: most of the time attendees of meetings discussing complex topics do not get the whole point but are ashamed to admit that they do not understand an issue. They simply do not say ‘Sorry, but I don’t have a clue what the bullshit-bingo on your slides is all about’. This typical behavior tends to make things even more complex. Thus today’s culture of IT-projects almost forces us to veil things. Veiling communication, however, leads to unsatisfactory IT-solutions.
Enterprise Architects and IT-people, in general, are often not educated in communication skills like asking the right questions. Educated at technical schools or universities most of them have been trained to engineer highly sophisticated technical solutions for problems that can simply be described by the people in demand. In Enterprise Architecture, however, things are the other way around: business people are never capable to delineate their complex and unconscious demands. Requirements must be unveiled by people skilled in asking the right questions. In listening intently. In gaining trust with the business people. If you as an Enterprise Architect want to bring innovation with true business value to your customer you have to focus not so much on the analytical, technical aspects of Enterprise Architecture but on the social aspects.
What you should do:
- Be aware that Enterprise Architecture is a lot about mediating between stakeholders
- Train your listening skills and learn to ask the right questions (more to come in the next blog episode)
- Do not step into solutions too early. Social veils are denser than it seems
- Help to raise the level of trust.
- Create a social climate in which everybody can admit that he/she does not understand an issue