Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Thoughts on Unskilled Enterprise Architects

With the discipline of enterprise architecture fast on the rise within many enterprises, many folks without the right competencies will find themselves in a situation where they get promoted to a position of greater responsibilities but fundamentally don't have the skills to do the job. Today's posting is all about the difficulties in recognizing one's own incompentence...

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. Overestimation of one's abilities or lack of occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the meta-cognitive ability to realize it. Participants in a recent study scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability.

Charisma can take one a long way in many IT shops but it isn't sufficient to ensure long-term sustainable architecture. Of course, enterprise architects need the ability to influence, sell, align or whatever the management-by-magazine term of the day is, but process should never be a substitute for competence.

In terms of the study, folks whose test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their meta-cognitive competence helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

This begs the question of when IT executives babble about leadership, have they thought past the basic need to influence and have reached the conclusion that self-reflection and tuning oneself is just as important?

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