Facing the choice of hiring a LEAN Expert, an Enterprise Architect or two production workers, what would be the best choice? The choice is rarely presented in this fashion, but as the cost is comparable it is a choice taken daily by enterprises across the world. Where would you put your money? Being an Enterprise Architect, you are likely to see the benefits of this choice, but is the Enterprise Architect also the CEOs preferred choice? Let us try to unravel if EA is the best hire!
What motivates the enterprise
At the core of any enterprise, we have the production, its related staff and machinery. On top of this we have management and administrative employees needed to enable the production. This is the core of the enterprise no matter whether it produces physical products or services.
Beyond this core we have “the hordes” of Management Consultants, Project Managers, Strategy Workers, LEAN specialists, Enterprise Architects, Advertisers, R&D scientists and similar groups. All of these groups have one obvious commonality – they all contribute value indirectly. Part of the capitalistic realization is that standstill is an impossibility – develop or die! Development is where “the hordes” fits in. This actually means that anyone from “the hordes” are in competition.
From my observations, the value add from “the hordes” always seems to fit under one of the following goals:
- Make more money
- Increase impact (usually for the same or less money)
This I call the ‘overarching goals’ and clearly they fits privately owned production and service companies but they also seems to fit public companies and even organizations within the field of charity or religion.
To achieve these overarching goals there are a multitude of approaches. E.g. ‘make more money’ could be achieved from increasing the operational efficiency, which then could be done through improved production tools, which then again could be attained through improved IT support, and so on. This way we can drill down and analyze the valuead in both depth and wide as illustrated below.
Anyone not being part of the core production should be able to explain their value add within this structure.
Some groups focus their effort on a limited number of boxes, others on a plentitude or even all. If you effort is focused on a limited number you may think you are not in job competition with other groups – e.g. R&D, Price Analysts, LEAN experts. This is wrong. As the enterprise has limited resources, they have to choose where to invest their money and they will pick the employees best at helping the enterprise attaining the overarching goals?
The most attractive group of employees are the ones best able to achieve the overarching goals. This is where EA is in competition => for EA to be the better choice, our products has to be the best at assisting the enterprise attaining the overarching goals.
The best employees to ‘Make more money’ / ‘Increase impact’
Having clarified the playing field and the competitors we can now evaluate who would then be the best choice of employees to drive development toward the overarching goals – ‘Make more money’ / ‘Increase impact’.
Let us start out by imagining an enterprise with only the essential production staff, machinery, management and administration in place. Where should they put their money in order to ‘Make more money’ / ‘Increase impact’? Is the best choice to invest in a R&D Scientist, Price Analyst, Market Analyst, LEAN Expert, Management Consultant, Project Manager or an Enterprise Architect?
To be the best choice some of your core qualities should be:
- A proven track record
- Low implementation risk
- Low time to first results
- Long term effect
- High impact on enterprise performance
Now let us call a meeting with the CEO and top business executives of our imaginative enterprise and ask them to rate the various groups. A qualified guess would be that the resulting evaluation would look close to the following:
|Proven track record||Low implementa-tion risk||Low time to (first) results||Long term effects||High impact on enterprise performance|
|R&D Scientist||Yes||Medium – high risk||2 – 10 years||High (if successful)||Yes (if successful)|
|Price Analyst||Yes||Low – medium risk||Month – few years||Medium||Potential|
|LEAN Expert||Yes||Very low – medium risk||Month||Medium||Likely|
|Enterprise Architect||Blurred||High risk||1 – 3 years||High (if successful)||Yes (if successful)|
Further groups and criteria could easily be added, but it is unlikely to change the conclusions toward EA significantly. Obviously, you can challenge the factual correctness of analysis. However, factuality is irrelevant! What matters is the perception by the business executives. Given the number EA-initiatives with blurred results, a widespread perception is that EA is a risky endeavor. You may be able to explain why your approach to EA will lead to a big success, but our CEO and his top business executives are chosing whom to hire without asking you; you and your viewpoint on EA have no influence – the EA track record does.
If this analysis to a tolerable degree represent the perception by the majority of business executives, we can now evaluate how well EA meet the competitors.
Looking at the analysis, on the good side EA shows interesting qualities in the long term and on ongoing enterprise performance and it can provide results on an attractive horizon. On the dark side, a high number of failed and unsuccessful EA initiatives speaks their own language – risk is high and track record is worrying. In short – our CEO and his business executives are unlikely to pick Enterprise Architecture as best choice!
Fortunately, to those of us who thinks EA is a serious candidate for best choice we have one group of business executives likely to take a different view on things – the CIOs! The CIOs are likely to find EA highly interesting, and reality is that the significant majority of Enterprise Architects report to the CIO (my guess is a figure of 90% or more).
Should enterprise architecture refer to the CIO?
Believing that EA can be of crucial importance to many enterprises having a natural sponsor is great. Having identified the CIO’s as the primary EA customers I have to say that the attitude of numerous Enterprise Architects are gravely concerning. Look at the following comments on EA:
- “root problem of most EA failures is the lack of mandate due to reporting through a specialist area and not to the CEO”
- “CIO role does not have the ability to support EA through funding, responsibility or influence”
- “EA must have the enthusiastic and knowledgeable support of the CEO”
Many Enterprise Architects disapprove of the CIO as the sponsor of EA – I take a different view!
For two reasons I take quite a different view.
- At first, the above considerations leads me to conclude that the CIO is currently the best available sponsor of EA.
- Secondly, I have big difficulties seeing the downside when the CIO offers a challenging and influential position enabling me to
- improve linkage of strategy, business and technology in our enterprise
- strengthen the business
- build a successful EA initiative
- and to report to a business executive that are happy with and highly reliant on my deliveries.
I will claim, that most Enterprise Architects today are well placed with the CIO – and the CIO’s seem to support this viewpoint by hiring skilled Enterprise Architects!
Whether the CIO on the long-run is the optimal reference point to EA is another question. But is it important? A successful EA initiative is anyway a good starting point developing an even stronger future position.
Looking to Gartner, the CIO’s position is currently undergoing important changes. Some CIO’s will face degrading influence as their job tunes in on the operational part of IT. Enterprise Architects have no role with the operational CIO’s. However, other CIO’s will, in the words of Gartner “play a strong digital leadership role in the transformation of their businesses”. I will be happy working for a CIO aiming for this future and I will be happy helping extend his (and thereby my) influence.
Skip the reference discussion! Go build an EA success
When non-productive, time-consuming CEO/CIO-reference discussions takes place during working hours, our EA colleagues are on a very wrong track. Your boss (the CIO, right) may choose to accept the discussion, but later do not think he is going to stand up for EA (if EA is moving on, why care). Not only are these discussions non-productive and time-consuming, they are as well career terminating and leaves the rest of us with yet another failed EA-initative.
Instead, spend your energy building an EA success with the best available sponsor (the CIO). Only by changing the EA track record and risk level will EA become of interest to a broader group of business executives and the CEO. Only through a track record of successes EA hiring an Enterprise Architect will be the best choice.