I know many of my readers are not officially business architects and might not want to be. They simply want ideas to help them be better leaders and managers. However, I also know there is a large contingent of you who are business architects or are interested in becoming business architects as well as some who are already practicing business architecture in your current role. This post is for you.
Business architect is an important and rewarding role. It is also a demanding role frequently requiring its practitioners to stretch their personal boundaries beyond their comfort zones. I see many business architects struggle with resistant organizations without recognizing they themselves are half the problem. If you want to be a business architect, here are seven questions you should ask yourself:
- Why do I want to be a business architect? I don’t mean why your organization needs a business architecture. I mean what specifically about the role excites YOU. What is it in your personal makeup that resonates with business architecture? Though this sounds like a simple question, it is often the hardest one to get a crisp, clear answer on. I find that most would-be business architects haven’t given it much thought.
- What skills do I possess that would make me a great business architect? Most of the skills you need for business architecture can be learned with a little discipline and patience. Others will take some serious hands on experience. What skills have you developed in other roles that will apply here and enable you to move ahead quickly?
- What personal attributes do I possess that would make me a good business architect? Business architecture requires a broad set of skills but it also requires a rare set of personal attributes – primarily around how you see the world and how you prefer to work. It isn’t enough to be good at the technical details like strategy mapping or capability modeling. You need to have passion and the right “mindset” to become an excellent business architect. Most importantly, how you like to interact with others.
- Do I have a strong relationship with senior business mangers? A beautiful model or well-designed process will not influence many people. Influence is founded on relationships. If you are not already engaged with business leaders at some level, the question you should ask yourself is, “Why not?”
- Am I willing to work outside the mainstream? Business architecture is still a relatively new role. Very few business leaders understand why it is important to them and their organizations. Even when it is well-established, business architecture is not in the mainstream of activities that drive revenue or create savings – though it contributes to both. It is going to take a while for business architecture to become a recognized mainstream role. Are you willing to work at the margins until then?
- Am I a leader or do I want to become a leader? It is easy to tell if you are already a leader. Just look around and see if people are following you. If you are not, it is much harder to figure out if you really want to become one. In today’s world, it is difficult to openly admit that you don’t want to become a leader. But the reality is, many people don’t. They are much more comfortable in an individual contributor role. Leadership is an incredibly difficult job and at times very lonely. Business architects must lead to be successful. And just to be clear, leadership has everything to do with influence and very little to do with management.
- How much risk am I willing to take? Because business architecture often confronts cultural and organizational norms, it can be a professionally risky endeavor. If this wasn’t true, your organization would already have a business architecture or at least be doing all the things a business architect would do.