Monday, November 28, 2005


Enterprise Architecture and Courage

Throughout many of my blogs, I have used the phrase strong technical leadership assuming that many folks understood my intent. Figured it was time to break down this phrase into the attributes and characteristics it represents...

Whenever I refer to the phrase strong technical leadership in context of enterprise architecture, I hope to make a point that EA cannot be done simply by managing your way through a process. The folks who have attempted to manage their way through processes and have failed all have very similar backgrounds. Usually the common criteria for failure is in choosing someone from the management ranks who has barely ever written a line of code in their life.

In the same way, that a 18 year old private goes into battle with a Sargeant who has done it before, enterprise architecture requires leadership not just management. Imagine if your town hired a police chief that was a good administrator but didn't know how to arrest a criminal or fire a gun? Do you really think the recommendations made by this chief no matter how sound they are will be followed?

While I advocate that every enterprise architect do their part to encourage strong technical leadership amongst their ranks, I think it all really boils down to one word: courage. One could do Zachman frameworks and other forms of comprehensive documentation all day but in order to do real enterprise architecture, it requires practice and hard work. Courage is required of individuals as failure is almost guaranteed, especially early on.

Hopefully though, you will apply principles of the Agile Manifesto to your enterprise architecture efforts which your failures will be limited in scope to a couple of weeks, at which time you can reevaluate the situation and adjust accordingly.

Successful EA requires lots of iterations. Some of these iterations are for learning and adjusting while other iterations bring stability. One gets good at EA by practicing EA. Enterprise Architecture requires interfacing not to just each other (aka ivory tower building) but talking with business folk, the myriad of project teams, insultancies, human resources and even other enterprises.

Strong technical leadership requires the confidence to step up and be savage in the desire to enact positive change in the face of tradition. This is the ultimate in risk management (one's own career) but when done well it can be hugely rewarding and incredibly valuable to the enterprise and the individual.

Hopefully, next week I intend to blog on incorporating information protection into enterprise architecture practices. In other words, enterprise architecture requires courage...

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