Friday, December 29, 2006


How to become an expert on Enterprise Architecture

Surprise, the secret answer isn't to buy the bestselling book: A Practical Guide to Enterprise Architecture. The real secret is to be passionate about something...

For the superior performer, the goal isn't just repeating the same thing again and again but strive for higher levels of control over every aspect of their performance and interactions with others. Within the IT ecosystem, I often hear developers complaining that all architects do all day is draw pretty diagrams that no one pays attention to. While this may be true, reality says that they are cheating themselves out of making themselves better at their own profession.

Most of us want to practice the things we're already good at, and avoid the things we suck at. We stay average or intermediate amateurs forever. I wonder what would happen if project managers, software developers and if folks in the QA department asked themselves, I wonder if studying enterprise architecture would help me in my own position and what they would rationalize?

I would say at some level that I probably understand the discipline of enterprise architecture more than anyone else in the blogosphere yet I am not an expert. No this is not a humbling moment where I say I have so much more to learn. The ability to call oneself an expert is heavily dependent on changing the perceptions of others, something which I suck at.

Many enterprise architects who substitute process for competence are missing out where they have the most leverage which is those who are satisifed with what they are currently doing. In my travels, I frequently run across folks who say that they know there is a better way to do task X, but I already know how to do it my way. They acknowledge that there way is less efficient and less powerful but this continues to thrive because they feel comfortable.

This of course begs the question of should folks feel comfortable or not. Is work all about a coffee clutch where we have nice social conversations with each other or more about running a business. Should a business care more about folks feeling comfortable or making a profit? Yes, I get that you can do both, but really which is more important?

What would happen if I could convince all those HR generalists who love their competency models to throw them in the trash and even convince myself to move away from areas of strengths (note: strengths are different than competencies) that I have which have made me ultra-successful towards situations where even I don't feel comfortable.

I wonder if you put me in charge of a very large project that is doomed to failure or at least mediocrity because they used folks from India instead of folks with a vested interest in success and required me to actually add on even more people against every principle I believe and then required me to deliver a wonderful status to executives that all is well, would this make me a better architect? Maybe I have become a better architect because I have deferred obvious predictable failures to others.

Does outsourcing = failure? I believe so. Getting one's hands dirty makes one learn from their own experiences. If you don't make mistakes then how can one learn? At some level, outsourcing is a mistake, only I hope that folks will learn from it.

I guess I have too much integrity to do certain things. I wonder though if I could help make it easier for others to continue on the path to becoming expert? Remember, being better is better. Whatever you're better at becomes more fun, more satisfying, a richer experience, and it leads to more flow. Maybe, my next book should be on how to have fun doing enterprise architecture?

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