Once upon a time there existed in the land of IT the PMs, Analysts and Developers, roles were few, well defined, few solutions needed more than a handful of people to work together and all was good. Change happened, complexity incr…
“Influence: Science & Practice” by Robert B Cialdini is my latest addition to the must-read non-architecture books for Enterprise Architects.
I’ve been reading it for the last week and I’ve lost count of the number of excellent messages, obse…
Who would make a good Enterprise Architect? This is a question I get from time to time and it’s not an easy one to answer, mainly because the definition of an Enterprise Architect and the expectations of the role varies from organisation to organisation. Just taking a look at two articles that describe the EA role and it’s easy to see why many people want an answer to the question.
An enterprise architect requires a unique blend of skills. At various times he or she needs to employ the characteristics of an artist, a guru, a coach, and a spy. As an artist, an enterprise architect needs to be creative by looking beyond the “right” answers to uncover new solutions to old problems. The enterprise architect also needs to be a guru—someone who understands some topics in depth, but can address a breadth of business and technical topics.
As a coach, the enterprise architect must bridge both business and technology, be able to find points of influence in both camps, and ensure that technology stays off the critical path. Finally, as a spy, the enterprise architect must be able to work across the enterprise, see patterns across disparate business needs, and define solutions that satisfy multiple business needs. Enterprise architects grow from within the technical architecture ranks, learning how to be artists, gurus, coaches, and spies as they work their way from being technical specialists, through application or infrastructure architects, eventually to enterprise architects.
Visionary, Evangelist, Strategist, Trusted advisor & Devil’s advocate
From my earlier posts you would also guess that I would add salesperson to the list. So where do you find people that fit this profile and understand all the technology aspects that are a pre-requisit? I don’t have the answer, but I do know some assumptions I’ve seen in the past are not always right.
Assumption 1 – there is a clear career path from developer/analyst through project architect then to an applications or infrastructure architect role and finally to the EA role.
Assumption 2 – an EA is fundamentally a technical role.
I don’t believe an EA is fundamentally a technical role. It does need someone who really understands the IT environment, in applications, technology, infrastructure and operations but it also needs someone who understands the business activities and how to align the two. This is where I believe there is a discontinuity in the career development plans many organisations have that are based on assumption 1.
So who would make a good enterprise architect? Someone who’s had the experience described in assumption 1 and also has had to work well outside the IT comfort zone. This could be a secondment into a business team, working for IT suppliers on sales solutions or consulting roles which broaden perspectives.
- “Enterprise architecture as strategy” by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, David C. Robertson
- “Beautiful evidence”, Edward Tufte
- “Hope is not a strategy”, Rick Page
All the good intentions to write this blog fall apart if I keep cancelling the daily reminder to put something in. Today I was spurred back into action by someone mentioning they had started to read it (Jon you’re the spark today!) – now that’s not going to take long I thought, so time to post some more.
This all started because of a presentation at a conference last week – I’ve been asked many times since then for a reminder of the key book recommendations for further reading. Before I list them here’s a little insight into why I recommend them. Firstly, these are to my mind some of the key non-technical subjects that enterprise architects need to be proficient with. I’ll go further and say it’s subjects like these that separate the system /infomation/ technology architect from the enterprise architect role. I did say ‘some’ of the subjects and in future postings I’ll get to the rest (but you won’t find many technical entries!)
There are many postings on the internet which attempt to define the EA role, probably with as many variations as there are EA positions. I liked this as I browsed the list thrown up at www. live-com. I’m going to partially define the role by example of one of the roles the Enterprise Architect takes on-chief salesperson for the EA work. And with that definition back to the books which help the EA create the ‘sales materials’ and go about selling them.
So now I’d better justify this selection. Jeanne Ross et al do a great job with real evidence to show how to take Enterprise Architecture work to the top table and clearly show it as the IT strategy. One of my favourite mechanisms for doing just this is the creation of a one page view that links all the critical pieces together. If ever thought I would write the book on this approach I’ve given up the idea now. Just buy this one and do it. My one criticism is that the examples used are a little simple, they give all the right ideas but one fell example world be great. I speak from personal experience here- my audience at the conference wanted more real-world examples. the problem is these usually contain a lot of company details which people don’t want to shave. But having said that I’m going to try & create some generic versions now.
When it comes to putting the information on a page the master is Tufte. The 6 principles he describes in his new book should become the mantras for effective EA communication. One of his other points I’m going to throw in now comes from his thinking on the shuttle disaster. There are a number of points to draw from the analysis but the one I will highlight is that splitting information down into individual entities and then presenting them does not allow the audience to easily work out the relationships and the consequences. In EA terms the entities are necessary to have enough detail in the decomposition to fully define processes, applications, information and technology but you cannot present them independently (or even in small groups) to describe the architecture – a good description of an EA might well include business, information, application and technology all on one page linked with justifications, strategic direction, opportunity, timelines and benefits!
Hope is not a strategy is a good book out of the many that are available to describe the sales process for complex sales (responding to RFPs, developing demand etc). Why is this important to the enterprise architect? Because the architect has to sell the architecture to people in IT and importantly across the whole business. But they have competition -every sales team that turns up, well prepared, with a solution that fits the business need, regardless of how it fits with the architecture plan. So the enterprise architect needs to be a salesperson and that means having the having the materials, processes and information that sales teams work with. More on this in a future blog and also in the conference materials.
The conference papers have all been posted http://www.microsoft.com/uk/msdn/architecture/architectinsight/2007download.mspx and you can access the worksheet I used here http://download.microsoft.com/documents/uk/msdn/architecture/architectinsight/2007/Enterprise/ENT06-Creating-Core-EA-Diagrams.pdf