A slightly humorous post on fashion and enterprise architecture.
On two separate occasions I’ve been privy to conversations among enterprise architects discussing fashion. That’s right; grizzled veterans (guys) of the business world musing over what to wear. It was like an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” gone bad.
It started with Mike Walker mentioning this in February 2014’s edition of The Open Group conference in San Francisco. His talk was focused on business architecture work he performed with is client and during the Q&A the answer drifted into a conversation about what he was wearing – and reading. It was about business fluency both visually and intellectually. While I crave a casual Friday/work-at-home-casual wardrobe option like the next guy, I could see where Mike was going.
Fast forward to June 2014 when I’m attending my company’s annual internal EA bootcamp. I meet up with others who have completed or taught the internal business architecture certification. Somehow we got onto the same topic and my informal focus group was on the same page as myself and Walker. What we wore (and read) mattered more than one might initially think.
Have I sniffed the dry erase marker one too many times?
I think enterprise architecture, while birthed in the primordial stew of the IT department, is as much a business planning discipline as a technical discipline. Its about making better enterprises, not better software systems or projects. So why not look the part?
Many professions have their respective uniforms. Ministers wear the clerical collar. Doctors wear the white coat. Soldiers and first responders have their uniforms. Should we as enterprise architects, or whatever business-focused title one might use, dress for business? Suit and tie, or something along those lines?
I think we need to look and talk business. We need to build fluency on the stakeholders’ challenges, the motivations, and the pain at the business level. We’ll have time (or need to make it) to address the underlying technical challenges. But I’ll venture a guess there is as much going on outside the technology domain which needs our attention.
What are your thoughts? Does the enterprise architect’s wardrobe really matter? What other factors boost your own business-centricity as an enterprise architect/business designer?
Caveat – the reality is personal, articulate knowledge is most important for any profession – including enterprise architecture.