Thursday, August 24, 2006


Enterprise Architecture: Culture is the manifestation of Leadership

The vast majority of large enterprises have IT budgets that are growing faster than their business. Maybe the problem resides not in outsourcing, project management or any other second class concern but is an indicator of the lack of strong technical leadership...

We wouldn't hire a doctor no matter what his credentials were to run a large police department any more than we would hire Johnny Knoxville to run the Federal Government simply because he has the ability to influence others. IT can describe an organizational structure or it can describe a discipline. This leads to the conclusion that just because you work in an IT organization, doesn't make you an IT professional.

Enterprises that acknowledge the distinction between IT the organization and IT the profession tend to have more successful cultures that grow and thrive and most importantly don't have obscene costs that business folks rant about. Successful enterprises have strong technical leadership and the culture that encourages even more of them to be created.

Culture is the manifestation of growth and wherever you find growth you can also impute leadership (either as literally leading edges of a growing organism, or as the motivation behind growth). In enterprises that have strong technical leadership, the recognition of the importance of IT exists not just because the leader happens to be technical, but because of the value it brings to others.

Many organization features the typical structure of employees reporting to managers reporting to executives. Poison in that environment is mistreatment of people causing low morale, high turnover, poor quality - in other words, poor culture - which causes poor performance as in failure to meet business objectives or seize opportunities. If the leader has walked in the shoes of those below him, mistreatment is less likely to occur.

The funny observation is that a pattern exists amongst most good enterprise architects in that they tend to suck at management but are great leaders. Leaders often emerge when problems arise. Often you will find a lowly architect taking charge of the team when management above is sick. Even though the gallant architect has no authoritative power, he has effective power because people will listen to them when they will not listen to their management. Leaders are the one with the real power. And of course they affect culture. They're the ones with the power to do so.

Enterprise architects need to have an agenda where people come first and the first order of change is culture. Remember, people, then process, then tools in that order...

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