The Holy Grail for business architecture startups is executive sponsorship. Though difficult to get, executive sponsorship can quickly move a business architecture program forward with funding and influence. However, executive sponsorship doesn’t provide the power business architects think it does and comes with its own set of risks. Some executive sponsorship challenges to consider:
Executive sponsorship is difficult to get – Executives are not very big on theory – they look for results. CFOs, CIOs, COOs are most often looking for bottom line budget savings and want it quickly. CEOs, P&L managers, and product owners are looking for top line revenue growth and increasing strategy effectiveness. Business architects want executives to buy into the theory to gain an opportunity to produce results. Executives want business architects to produce results to prove the value of the theory. Guess who wins this argument.
Executive support is easy to lose – Executives are an ambitious lot. They change jobs frequently both internally to new roles and externally to new companies. CEO tenure rates have been climbing recently but their longevity is significantly less than ten years. The average CIO tenure is less than five years. So before you rely too heavily on your executive’s support you should think about how long you have before they move on. It might be sooner than you think.
Executives have short attention spans – I cannot count the number of times someone has told me their executive is ADHD. Most executives seem to have an amazingly short attention span. Once the novelty and newness of business architecture wears off, their interest will shift elsewhere. So even if your executive sticks around and generally supports what you do, she is unlikely to keep a high level of advocacy for an extended length of time.
Surprise! People don’t always listen to executives – Research shows that only 30% of employees are engaged. This means that 70% may or may not follow the executives lead. For some reason we think executives are omnipotent and that everyone does what they say. Do you ALWAYS do what your boss wants? If everyone really followed the CEO’s lead, would we need business architecture? Think about it.
Executive support does not give YOU credibility – No matter how much support you initially get from your executive, you have to earn your own credibility. Relying too much on executive influence is one of the deadliest mistakes a business architect can make. Executive endorsement may get people to support business architecture but rarely is it enough to get them to fully embrace it. Using the “The CEO said” approach will work right up until they leave (see above). At that point, all the people who signed up because the CEO said so, will turn on you. And they will be vicious. If you use this model, keep your resume up to date.
The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________