Saturday, December 31, 2011


Did you lose your fancy job title?

During the Christmas holidays, I met up with a few friends who shared with me a story of several individuals I know who recently lost their fancy job titles. There are always multiple right perspectives...

How many architects does it take to change a lightbulb? The answer remains unknowable. What we do know is that many job descriptions suffer from title inflation. There are UI architects, Java architects, enterprise architects and so on. Sadly, many of this people have used the word architect in their job title to indicate seniority vs. ability.

As an Enterprise Architect myself, I am a student of simplification and a champion of rationalization. In short, I believe that too many people have the title of Architect and that we need initiatives to bring about industry-wide title rationalization. Simplification of job titles is one step that should be considered by Enterprise Architecture teams as a way of making IT appear less complex to the business. In doing so, the business has a better chance of understanding whom to approach with game changing ideas vs getting caught up in the quagmire of the plethora of titles.

While it is noble to do the right thing for the business, we also have to consider the impact of titles on the people who hold them. Usually, job grades are embedded in titles, and promotions make the new job grade public through a new title. A person’s job grade is generally considered public information. If employees are fairly placed in their job grades and promoted only when they are clearly performing at a new job grade, then salary differences based on job grade are generally perceived to be fair.

The negatives of title simplification tend to add confusion to the marketplace in that the range within a title now happens to be much broader. More importantly, removing titles from the toolbox of tools now means that the focus will need to shift to alternative rewards. Gone are the days where you could get away with giving an adequate pay raise with a snazzy new title.

For employers that are looking to make things simpler, I hope they will take the prudent course of action and acknowledge that titles are bi-directional entities that provide value for all involved parties.

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