Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

Bringing an Enterprise Architecture to your company can be a battle, especially if the current culture is used to application silos and has no clear picture of the true costs and performance of IT. The most challenging part of implementing EA is dealing with culture change. I stumbled across a great article today in the current issue of the Architecture and Governance magazine. Here is an important quote from this article:

“Twenty percent of our success is the new technology that we embrace . . . but 80 percent of our success is in the culture of our company.”

The article goes on to describe characteristics of a culture where EA is accepted:
  • Collaborative teams vs. stovepipe
  • Information sharing vs. hoarding
  • People-oriented vs. bottom line focus
  • Emphasis on standardization vs. technological differentiation
  • Adherence to governance vs. “acting first and asking permission later”
  • Business focus vs. technology for technology sake
  • Performance measure (accountability) vs. "seat of the pants"
Here is my take. If you have a culture that fits the above description, you probably already have a well established EA. For the rest of us, we need to identify which characteristic(s) we are missing and devise a plan to change the mindset. Obviously, the more characteristics of your culture that are undesirable for an EA, the harder your job will be. David Linthicum wrote this piece yesterday called Why Enterprise Architects Continue to Fall Short with SOA…and Enterprise Architecture. In this article he points out three reasons why architects fail trying to deliver SOA. The last one is fear of change.
Fear change. If things are bad, than change is typically good. Unfortunately, change also means risk, and risk is something people typically don't like. The fact of the matter is that people are rewarded for maintaining more so than improving, and thus how many of the enterprise architectures out there are now layers upon layers of tactical one-off solutions designed to "keep things going a few more years." Somebody needs to have the political will to figure out a long term solution, using sound enterprise architecture approaches, including SOA.

Dave's point "Somebody needs to have the political will to figure out a long term solution" is what I am referring to as "fighting the good fight". As enterprise architects, chief architects, CIOs, and CTOs, we owe it to our respective companies to deliver value, efficiencies, and enable our business partners to achieve their goals. Too often, IT shops have become bogged down in keeping the lights on because they always take the quick and dirty route to solving problems. Always remember, the dirty hangs around long after the quick is gone. It is time to fight the good fight and build an architecture that allows your IT shop to be responsive to the business (agile) while building a sustainable architecture that supports both short and long term needs.

Last week I wrote a post called "Do you have an Architect personality?". James McGovern asked that I follow it up with a post about an architect's abilities. One of the most overlooked abilities of an architect is the ability to lead through change. Too often, the architect role is looked upon as strictly a technology role. This may be true if an architect works on a well established EA. But for most of us, either we are trying to implement EA or we are in the early stages of EA maturity and are still battling with politics, nay sayers, and resistance. Architects must be leaders and help explain WIIFM (what's in it for me) to each person who still has not joined hands with EA. Why must we change? What value does this bring? How will my job change? How will we have time to do it this way? These are all familiar questions that architects are faced with.

So what are some of the abilities that architects need?
  • Emotional Intelligence - ability to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of yourself or others.
  • Leadership - ability to affect human behavior to accomplish a mission or goal
  • Effectively Communicate - ability to clearly articulate (verbal and written) one's message. Includes ability to persuade, negotiate, articulate, sell, and others.
  • Intelligence - ability to learn and retain information about new technologies, processes, and solutions.
  • Problem Solving - Find solutions to complex problems, both technical and non-technical
  • Vision/Strategic - Ability to predict future patterns and plan accordingly. Create roadmaps and action plans for accomplishing goals.
This is a short list. I could go on forever but these are the key ones. To fight the good fight, one must have the determination and stamina to move beyond the daily grind and strive for the end goal which is to establish a functional and mature EA. If one chooses the easy way out ("that will never happen here" or "they are not ready for this yet"), then they are not doing the role of an architect any justice. Instead, they are simply a senior developer with a fancy title.


  1. Rowena  

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