AT #40: Four Skills for the Successful Enterprise Architect

AT #40: Four Skills for the Successful Enterprise Architect

In our last blog post, we discussed why enterprises cannot be architected but must be grown. We argued that the role of Enterprise Architects must change from purely engineering to engineering & business & social.

As an EA: establish a framework for growth. Plant the seeds. Do some weeding and fertilizing now and then. With a bit of luck, you will have a nice, healthy, growing enterprise a few years down the road. EA succeeds when enterprises are treated as complex systems that are constantly changing and adapting.

This week we want to discuss the skills required for this new kind of Enterprise Architects: Read More

AT#39: EAM – Be a Gardener not an Architect!

AT#39: EAM – Be a Gardener not an Architect!

“I think there are two types, the architects, and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows.”

Novelist R.R. Martin

 

Over the course of my twelve years of experience as an Enterprise Architect, I have seen EA initiatives in more than twenty large companies; only two or three of which were successful, i.e., they had a significant or even noticeable impact on the real world’s software-projects. A pattern I saw, again and again, is that the ‘planning-oriented’ top-down, engineering approaches typically employed by EAs do not work when faced with the unknowability and unpredictability of real-world bottom-up software development projects. This observation made me think that enterprises aren’t architected at all. Defining a target state for five years later? There are too many unknown influencing factors. Read More

AT#31: Soft Factors of Architecture – Part 3: Communication

AT#31: Soft Factors of Architecture – Part 3: Communication

Enterprise Architecture (EA) often focuses primarily on the analytical modeling aspects and this is, of course, an important part of the work. However, practice shows that EA is much more about communication. You simply need to elicit the wisdom of business people to create your architecture maps. Enterprise Architects, and IT-people in general, however, are often not educated in communication skills like asking the right questions and listening intently. Educated at technical universities most of them have been trained to engineer highly sophisticated technical solutions but not so much in the soft skills.

The following communication skills are mandatory for any successful Enterprise Architect:

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AT#30: Soft Factors of Architecture – Part 2: Unveiling

AT#30: Soft Factors of Architecture – Part 2: Unveiling

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. Read More

AT#29: Soft Factors of Architecture – Part 1: Trust

AT#29: Soft Factors of Architecture – Part 1: Trust

The stake of Business- and Enteprise Architecture is to ensure that the overall IT landscape and its solutions stay maintainable instead of increasing complexity with each project. Architects, usually without formal authority over other persons working in the projects, have to find soft ways to drive their stake,  and this is always the hardest part of the job. 

“In Enterprise Architecture roles, emotional intelligence (EQ) accounts for more than 90% of a person’s performance and success.”
[Gartner Group]

I have been working in the field of Enterprise Architecture (EA) for almost 12 years now. Over these years I have seen many unsuccessful EA initiatives. Half of the large IT transformation projects I worked in failed to a large degree due to insufficient influence of the architecture team. EAs often simply did not have the “right”social/soft skills.

Motivated by this observation I want to start a series of posts that deal with the “soft factors” of architecture, which are IMHO way more relevant than the analytical/technical bias prevalent in the field of EA. Today’s part 1 explains why building trust should be prio 1 for EAs.

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