Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Enterprise Architecture: Meeting Best Practices

In conversations with many IT professionals, I find that their Outlook calendars look more like Tetris than anything that makes sense...

Let's face it, the engineering discipline within IT has gone the way of the dinosaur and has been replaced with architects, executives and project managers who are masters at being short-form conversationalists. With that being said, the notion that IT has a communications problem is both true and false at the same time.

Whether everyone in IT understands the mission and the challenges of communicating in a global economy will continue to be elusive to most shops. However, there is a bigger challenge that is less frequently discussed.

So, lets pretend that I am a CTO for a Fortune 100 enterprise and my calendar is 80% filled with meetings. Isn't it reasonable to think that I should spend 80% of my time talking with workers that report to me? I think the answer is unequivocally yes but the challenge is when we think of this time as "meeting" time, we are automatically compromising a precious resource.

I do think there is a difference in spending 80% of your time with people that report to you vs spending 80% of your time with other than your own workers. The later is more indicative of a busted culture where time is spent in meetings with clients, project stakeholders and other external entities. In this model, the manager becomes more of an information conduit by which they shuttle what they have learned from partner organizations to those below them.

The premise is that the hierarchy lines on the organization chart are also the only communication conduit. Information can only flow along those lines. It is vital that enterprises separate out the paths of authority from the paths of communication.

Effective enterprises have eliminated all forms of narrow band communications by encouraging broadband thinking. When communication happens only over the hierarchy lines, that's a priori evidence that leadership management are trying to hold on to all control. This is not only inefficient but an insult to the people underneath.

So, don't complain about meetings and having too many of them. The key is to figure out their purpose. On the chance you haven't figured out that movements such as Facebook and Twitter are breaking down communication barriers in the outside world and that you should do this to yourself inside, you only are causing harm to not only yourself but your organization by attempting to control the message via meetings.

My go forward thinking in this regard can be summed up in three powerful words: Hyperlinks subvert Hierarchy...

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