6 years, 7 months ago

The Ninety Degree Shift

Relating back to a previous post on the “Law of Navigation”, I was thinking and pontificating about this idea the other day. I contend most enterprise architects (EA) progressed out of some technical discipline within the IT world. Some, like myself, were grinding out code for a living and have (had?) deep expertise in .NET, J2EE, or other similar technology stack. Others grew from the infrastructure side with deep knowledge of hardware systems, operating systems, and storage. In either case, those earlier in their careers had an opportunity to go deep and narrow with a particular discipline.

As these professionals move into a role as a solutions or enterprise architect, however, there is a shift in perspective that takes place. Or, must take place. Because now concerns are cross-cutting. With solution architecture, perspectives across business and technology domains within a give timeframe while enterprise architecture cuts across the same domains but over a longer time period. Its the shift from going deep in one domain to going across, latitudinally across multiple domains. Its the ninety degree shift. [If you need an acronym, let’s use NDS or 90DS. I’ll trademark it later.] The concept is not original as Peter Hinnsen mentions the idea of “t-shaped skills” in his book The New Normal. I’m simply labeling and emphasizing the fact for those either venuring into EA for the first time or those who are grooming clients/staff for the role.

Yes, your EA making the ninety degree shift will “appear” to have less deep skills in a particular business or technology domain. Those deep skills have been shifted from focusing 180 degrees downward to 90 degrees left and right of the architecture domains. But much of EA is about leadership, vision, and organization. All that raw material making up an enterprise or ecosystem requires effort into orchestrating it into an optimized whole driving value for customers, shareholders, and other stakeholders.

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