Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Enterprise Architecture Talent Management Excellence

Figured I would share an interesting conversation I had yesterday with two fellow architects...

The funny thing about most corporations is that many of them have top talent that is heavily underutilized. For example, if I were to look across the street towards one Fortune 100 enterprise, I could find the father of one of the first object-oriented languages, if I were to get in my car and drive about four miles, I could meet the father of case tools, if I were to walk down the street I could run across the father of what is one of the first firewalls. The funny thing is that all of these folks whenever I run across them tell me that time at work is sometimes spent on outside interests.

Talent management nowadays seems geared towards leveraging average folks within the enterprise with the hopes of getting some productivity gains out of them. I haven't ran across a single executive that knew what to do with stars. Part of the problem that many executives avoid that causes the underutilization of top talent is the crutch of communication. Whenever magazines, industry analysts or top IT executives speak to the communications problem, what they are really saying is that they have a problem with getting average folks to buy-in. Top talent doesn't have a buy-in problem because they are usually the ones where shift happens.

Several of my peers joke that if say the Aetna, Cigna or Mass Mutual hired top talent that the very first thing they would do is beating them into submission and make them average. If they hired say James Gosling, instead of leveraging his expertise in Java, they would make him give presentations to CIO types on the value of generics. Likewise, if they hired Martin Fowler, they tell him that agile stuff is nice, but they really need for him to work on creating metrics for governance purposes. If they hired Grady Booch, they would assign him to quality assurance for India offshore development and possibly have him do code review of folks who only had one years of coding experience.

Talent management hasn't yet been discussed in the analyst community and its relationship to communication. The enterprise that has mature talent management practices acknowledges that communication not only is not the problem but that they should instead optimize show that communication is reduced.

A wise architect and I were debating that communication within the enterprise is NP-complete or just exponential. When an IT executive asks their team to increase communication, they of course don't want to lose productivity while doing so. So, if on day one, an architect needs to communicate to say ten people and then the enterprise goes through a reorg and tomorrow he/she is forced to communicate to one-hundred people is this sustainable? The real problem with communication isn't about volume but ensuring that one can communicate with only the right people while weeding out those who don't need to know, who will get it twisted or will simply defer until they know. With constant reorgs, changes in IT management, and expectations that communications can get significantly better (only marginal improvement is possible) the problem space of talent management and communication is NP-complete...

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