Friday, March 18, 2011


Six Things to do if you are a new practitioner of Enterprise Architecture

Recently, a friend pinged me celebrating the fact that she was newly appointed to an architecture role. Of course, she made the fatal mistake of asking me what it takes to be successful. Anyway, I figured I would share my own thoughts and guidance to her in a public way...

1. Ask lots of questions: Being the new guy or gal affords you the opportunity to ask really dumb questions and get away with it. Usually your first ninety days is when you will be forgiven for not understanding certain processes or practices. More importantly, having a fresh set of eyes on existing approaches may allow you to expose issues that others may not see. If you are in the right culture, the asking of questions will further increase the culture of dialog and collaboration.

2. Find ways to contribute early: Some call this quick hits, but even before that, relationship building is easier when it is two way. Don't worry about making yourself look good or at least hold off till annual review time and instead figure out ways to help others have a good day.

3. Listen: A popular management trend nowadays is to hire Enterprise Architects who are great conversationalists. In the end, the encouragement of those who take charge of conversations may feel right to some, but longer term sustainability requires someone who talks less and listens more. Set time to first engage, listen and learn.

4. Understand the business cycles: When are budgets done? When is the strongest quarter for sales? What are the milestone dates for the top X IT projects? Understanding dates will help you frame not just what is important, but what is more important.

5. Look for burning platforms: Yes, the dates will drive priorities but it is equally important for you to hunt down the issues, especially the ones no one else recognizes.

6. People over Process: Sure, doing the interview, they may have asked you about TOGAF, The Zachman framework and so on. Now, isn't the time to refresh your memory on the latest EA frameworks. Likewise, it is equally vital that you eschew conversations related to emerging technology such as the Cloud, Social Media, etc. Save your reading material for idle time while sitting on your porcelain throne and instead focus on people and relationship first, process second and technology a distant third.

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