Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Enterprise Architecture and Clarity of Purpose

Todd Biske asks do you have clarity of purpose in your job, your projects, your teams, your commitees? I am proud to say that I am part of the masses who can proudly respond that everything is clear as mud...

Declarative living reaches out to the human aspects of IT and requires each of us to constantly reflect on how we can do things better. As Todd stated: We go through life being told what to do without being told why. Some things need to be done on trust- trust that the person giving the direction understands the purpose. If they don’t, then the problem can begin.. I wonder if Todd has observed that trust as a concept is fast declining. My thesis says that trust is on the decline because of the very thing we believed would help the cause of enterprise architecture. We do Powerpoint in order to sell ideas and sometimes do too good of a job at it. We overpromise and then underdeliver resulting in an erosion of trust which only causes us to do even more powerpoint in order to maintain credibility. I suspect that business folks are hooked on the crack we sell and forgot the long-lost art of conversation, the days when we used to actually talk with each other face-to-face. Powerpoint is not a conversation, it is a one-way monologue.

Todd went on to say: Most EA’s I know, myself included, would consider themselves big picture thinkers. Our purpose, however, is not just to establish strategic direction, but to ensure that strategic direction is followed. If all we do is create Visio and Powerpoint, and don’t also include planning, communication, and mentoring which made me think more deeply about my own condition. The funny thing is that I used to do more mentoring when I wasn't an enterprise architect. Back in the days when Americans used to write code, we use to write code and help others do it better. Many enterprise architects have simply forgotten their roots. Maybe Todd can talk about his ideas around the importance of mentoring in a future blog entry as this is where EA collectively is weak and declining.

If I were to go on the defensive, I would say that mentoring is a lot harder in the world of outsourcing. America is destroying the career path of many by outsourcing to India. If there are no developers wanting to be architects and in general, the masses of youth who don't want to even consider IT as a career, then whom do we mentor? Maybe, I have made a point or maybe I have simply made an excuse. Either way, EA also needs to figure out how to make itself sustainable and I can't think of too many things more important than mentoring others...

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