6 years, 7 months ago

5 Must-Have Characteristics to Enable Enterprise Architecture Successfully

Last week I talked about Enterprise Information Management.  This week I would like to talk about 5 Must-Have Characteristics to Enable Enterprise Architecture Successfully.

A lot of organizations have tried to implement Enterprise Architecture in IT, but have had a hard time gaining credibility within the organization and communicating its value effectively. Many are now turning to consultants with strong EA backgrounds to come in and help make EA successful.

There are 5 characteristics that we should ascribe to in order to enable a strong Enterprise Architecture foundation for an organization.

  • Transparency
  • Integrity
  • Selflessness
  • Empathy
  • Effective Communication

Transparency

Wikipedia defines transparency as the perceived quality of intentionally shared information from a sender. It implies complete openness and creating a trusted strong foundation to build upon. I would highly recumbent to meet with all the stakeholders and ask why do they care about having an effective EA organization. Getting everyone to explain what it means to them and the reasons why they’ve come together to build it, helps everybody identify the things that need to be fixed first. This helps set expectations from the beginning and prevents people from thinking that others have hidden agendas.

Integrity

Random House dictionary defines integrity as adherence to moral and ethical standards; soundness of moral character; honesty.  This translates to putting the organization first, being transparent, and sharing the truth about how to successfully enable an organization’s EA team.  Just be honest.  We as consultants often feel like we are failures if we do not come off as the smartest person in the room, but operating that way will cause people to stop trusting you.

Admitting we don’t have all of the answers, is more powerful than trying to answer to every single question without making any sense. We need to be committed to partnering with our customers to succeed, and acknowledge our shortcomings to really help them get the results they are expecting. I know this is not easy, but if you do it you will not only gain their trust quickly, but also their respect.

Selflessness

Random House dictionary also defines selflessness as having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, and money; unselfish.  This is a quality that runs counter to traditional consulting, but it is essential to the success of any organization.  Good things happen when we set aside our own desires and ambitions to focus on enabling a customer to be truly successful with an effective EA strategy.  The funny thing is, by not focusing on self or the consulting firm, the customer will be more successful which in turn makes the consulting firm more successful.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to feel and share emotions that others are feeling.  It is extremely powerful when helping organizations with EA because we have all been there and have experienced many of the same issues our customers experience at one time or another.  Sharing our experiences implementing EA and being able to put ourselves back in their shoes to understand where they are in their EA journey, will help you build trust, credibility, and a great working relationship.

Effective Communication

Communicate, communicate, communicate!  If you have read any of my past blogs then you know that I reference communication in most of them.  It is so extremely important and seems so obvious, yet many consulting companies do not communicate very well at all.

Effective communication begins with ensuring that the person or organization you are speaking to clearly understood what you just said.  Likewise, you need to ensure they know that you listened and clearly understood what was just communicated to you as well.  An effective way to do this is to state what was just said in your own words so they can correct any misinterpretations.  Furthermore, after every meeting send an email with your interpretation of what was said and who said it.  This will keep both parties on the same page, as well as, keep expectations in check.

Time For Change

Traditional consulting does not hold to the above characteristics.  It was built on the principle of do enough to keep the customer, while perpetuating the belief that the organization cannot execute without the consultant sticking around indefinitely.  It is time we let this way of thinking go and change the perception that consulting companies are only interested in profits rather than customer success.

EA enablement is not easy, but if you can instill these 5 characteristics into the fabric of your company and your consultants, your chances of success will increase exponentially.

Have you successfully enabled a successful EA strategy for an organization and if so, what made it successful?  What other characteristics do you think will increase the chances of success.  Join in the conversation and share your thoughts.

See you next week, same time, same place.  

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