8 things to do with your TOGAF Certification
You passed the tests! Now, what will you do with your TOGAF Certification?
When you pass the TOGAF certification exams you have taken an important step in becoming an enterprise architect. You understand the industry standard framework, and with the TOGAF ADM an approach to developing enterprise architecture.
I expect you are in the same place I was when I learned to titre in Organic Chemistry. You know important useful things and do not know how to put them to use. Let's look at 8 things to do with your TOGAF Certification to that will improve your confidence, skill, and usefulness as an enterprise architect.
Passing TOGAF Certification sets you at a new beginning
When we work with architecture teams, it is very common for the EA leader to start with TOGAF Certification training. The team gets an outline of how the various bits of enterprise architecture fit together. They share a basic vocabulary.
They also rarely know what top do next. Just me and titration.
Still looking for TOGAF Certification?
I spend a great deal of time building effective EA Teams. We split building an effective EA Team into:
- Mentoring and training for the team
- Enabling the activities that can use high-quality enterprise architecture,
- Developing an organizational specific EA Method & toolkit,
- Creating useful enterprise architecture
In this article, I'm going to touch on 8 things you can do with your TOGAF Certification.
- Get EA Done (GTD) through effective time management
- Clarify the purpose of your enterprise architecture delivery
- Develop enterprise architecture analysis skills
- Learn your organizational cadence
- Start an EA template library
- Start a Viewpoint Library
- Sharpen your critical thinking skills
- Start work on the EA use cases
Get EA Done (GTD) through effective time management
The first thing to do after your TOGAF Certification is to start at the beginning - become effective use of time. If you pull this off, you will have the time to do everything else on the list, continue your professional development, and continually deliver useful enterprise architecture.
Most enterprise architects have shockingly low personal productivity. There is a tremendous gap between the best and average. The high productivity enterprise architects we worked with are up to 50 times more productive. Seriously, 50 times.
One team we worked with took two years to develop a draft roadmap. They had meeting after meeting. Drew thousands of whiteboard images. They had a lot of good conversation. They took two years to deliver what I would expect one of my teams to do in two weeks.
After two weeks, my team would be in exactly the same place, with an untested answer to a complex problem. We would be ready to engage the stakeholders in detailed trade-off against competing interests. 50 times more productive.
Now there is a difference between my team's work and the two-year initiative. My team understands they are advisors, and that their opinion and decisions do not matter. We need to get our work to the point it is ready for the stakeholders, then we need to engage the stakeholders until they decide, or come-clean that they are going to defer. The two-year team was looking for the unquestionable right-answer. Here's a secret, there is never an unquestionable right answer.
In order to pull off 50 times the productivity, you need to
- know the question you have to answer
- know what you need to learn to answer the question
- gather and analyze until you have a candidate answer
- stop work
We use three techniques to get EA Done.
First, we start with the work product and perform a work breakdown.
Work Breakdown is a list of things
Contains 100% of the work defined by the scope and captures all deliverables
(Internal, External, Interim)
Arranges all major and minor deliverables in a hierarchical structure
Each level of decomposition contains 100% of the work in the parent level
Uses nouns—not verbs
Second, we track the work using a Kanban knowledge production model. That work breakdown provides a list of work products. Start at the most atomic and go. If you have it, check it off. If you don't perform the gather or the analysis.
Third, ruthlessly guard your work time. We use the Pomodoro technique. During a 25-minute work session no distractions.
It will amaze you how much you produce when you start with the question, then identify the work to answer it, and do the work.
Clarify the purpose of your enterprise architecture delivery
The second thing to do with your TOGAF Certification is to align your work to the value proposition of your EA Team.
I know you were told about the EA Team Leader's Guide and the Practitioner's Guide. These documents state every EA Team can deliver architecture to support strategy development, portfolio planning, project planning, or solution delivery. The question is where their sponsor and stakeholders expect them to work.
I cannot count the number of times I have seen architects assume they have to work to support solution delivery while they starved their organization for directional leadership.
Once you know where you should work, arrange your time. Look at where your time generates value. Look at where your time creates value for stakeholders, not implementers. Remember, enterprise architects serve stakeholders.
Keep in mind that it can easily take 10 times the effort to work on an equivalent portfolio question as a strategy question. Each of the projects in the portfolio can require as much architecture work as the portfolio.
If your primary purpose is Portfolio, and Secondary is Solution Delivery, you will easily spend 90% of your time on Solution Delivery. However, your primary is Portfolio. That means you need to complete all Portfolio work before Solution Delivery.
Develop enterprise architecture analysis skills
The third thing to do after your TOGAF Certification is to strengthen the core skill of developing architecture. Enterprise architects earn their living performing. This is important. We earn our living performing analysis.
Enterprise architects do not earn their living based on their subject matter knowledge. You don’t show your value by knowing the answer. So I'll say it one last time, you earn your living performing analysis.
You need to explore a system (some part of your enterprise). In your exploration, you need to understand how it works, and the cause of the deficiency your stakeholders want fixed. Then you need to develop the least intrusive fix to the deficiency. The fix you develop will face multiple conflicting options, facts, influences, and objectives.
You will need to guide your stakeholders through the choices and their implications.
Analysis, top to bottom.
You will need to create models of the real world. Models that highlight the source of grief, and the levers of change. Your analysis will come from exercising the model. You will inject it with different components, different associations, or change to components.
I expect that your current modelling skills are static box and line explanatory models. These are not analytic fodder. Explanatory models are the last artifacts produced.
This topic is so large we focus most of our EA training on it. Have a look at the exercises in EA with TOGAF and Navigate for an introduction.
Learn your organizational cadence
The fourth thing to do after your TOGAF certification is learning your organization cadence. Your organization will have a normal rhythm and cycle.
Use the clues of how your organization works:
- When is your sales conference?
- When do you do new product releases?
- When are your board meetings?
- When are your management offsites?
- If you are publicly traded, when are quarter and year ends?
These will tell you about the what drives your organizational cadence..
Your business rhythm drives external facing change. In North America, consumer organizations typically have a significant upsurge in sales after American Thanksgiving. Colleges and post-secondary focus on their fall and winter semesters.
Implicitly all activity in the company works around that focus and that rhythm.
Governance, or direction and control, has a rhythm around reporting and formally asking permission. We need to complete things in time to report. We need to wait until the next window for formal permission to proceed with significant change.
Depending on the level you work at decision rhythms and governance rhythms may be indistinguishable. Another way to think about your decision rhythms is to look at how your organization completes a decision it’s making.
If your organization needs to take decisions for a walk, you need to adapt to your organization’s decision rhythm.
We tie execution rhythms to the business rhythm. The unequivocal indicator is seasonal business activity.
Also, keep in mind your organization’s attention span. I’ve seen a multiyear roadmap rolled out twice annually as the brand-new shiny thing. None of the rollouts had any reference to the past or talked about the future.
Start an EA template library
The fifth thing to do after your TOGAF certification is develop useful Enterprise Architecture Templates. All enterprise architecture is knowledge manufacturing. Templates & jigs improve all manufacturing. Templates help you move forward by reducing the number of extra decisions you need to make.
We use three templates all the time
- Problem statement
- Option Document
- Decision Document
Problem Statement Template
In our Personal Kickstart program, we start with understanding why you are in the room. TOGAF Phase A starts with a Request for Architecture Work. We aim both at the same challenge, focusing your work on the issue at hand.
There is enough variation in potential work in architecture to support Strategy, Portfolio, Project, and Solution Delivery. When you add in the complexity of decision cycles, you might do anything from supporting direction for strategy and answering an implementation question for Solution Delivery.
The Problem Statement Template
- What type of problem space?
- Where are we in the decision cycle?
- Who are we helping (stakeholder / sponsor / implementer)?
- What is the hard problem?
- When is the decision needed in order to execute the change?
When we do option documents, we use bookends to drive out the hard questions. I ask my team two get to two different choices, and ruthlessly remove the wiggle room. I am aiming to put the hard choice on the table and drive the conversation there. We help no one when we paper over the choices.
Over the years, I have noticed that most of the middle options that are often presented as more realistic carry fewer benefits and more penalties than the book-ends.
Option Document Template
|Work to Realize||Impacts elsewhere||Risk (Uncertainty) to Realize||
Or criteria to select
(Avoid like the plague)
We make our decision documents crisp and authoritative. Remove softening and directional words. Be clear what was decided.
Decision Document Template
Testable statement of decision
|Implications||Implications allow you to highlight where the decision is painful, or there are limitations in scope
|Deferred Decision||Future decisions
It is best practice to defer every decision you do not need to make. You are avoiding the illusion of certainty and keeping as many options open.
Start a Viewpoint Library
The sixth thing to do after your TOGAF certification is develop a Viewpoint Library. In your TOGAF Certification you will have learned that you describe the Architecture in context of Stakeholder Concerns with Views. If you are like most students you remembered stakeholder, concern, view & viewpoint long enough for the exam. Then you started forgetting.
I'll be blunt, if you cannot describe the architecture in the context of a stakeholder's concern you cannot have any confidence that you have addressed the concern. Point blank, you cannot have any confidence.
Build your viewpoint l around the common concerns of your stakeholders. You will have recurrent criteria used to select options. Criteria like strategic alignment, feasibility, change impact, or resiliency. If these are the normal criteria get the architect described against these criteria before you go to a stakeholder.
Even better use the views to drive trade-off. Good architects always narrow trade-off discussions to competing criteria.
The TOGAF Series Guide for EA Team Leader's covers on developing an initial set of enterprise architecture views and a sample set of concerns. We have an article on developing architecture views. Our EA with TOGAF and Navigate course focuses the exercises on concerns and views.
Sharpen your critical thinking skills
The seventh thing to do after your TOGAF certification is sharpen your critical thinking skills. Quality analysis, and recommendation is the most valuable thing you can provide. To paraphrase one of my favorite stakeholder 'I can get sloppy thinking for free. Why would I pay for it?'
Critical thinking is a careful assessment of the process used to form a judgement. Evaluate the premise. Test the steps to the conclusion. If the premise is valid, and the steps are valid, the argument is valid. The conclusion is likely warranted. If either are invalid, we cannot trust the conclusion.
We routinely re-take these three free programs on critical thinking.
- University of Auckland Logical and Critical Thinking
- EDX Critical Thinking: Fundamentals of Good Reasoning
- Oxford Critical Reasoning for Beginners
Start work on the EA use cases
The eight thing to do after your TOGAF certification is start delivering useful architecture. Yes, you should be aligned to purpose, you should follow your organizational cadence. You should also just get something delivered.
All enterprise architecture is about change. All change is either disruptive or incremental.
The most common enterprise architecture use cases are:
- Mitigating Technology Risk
- IT Modernization
- Digital Transformation or Cloud Transformation
- Application Portfolio Rationalization
- Acquisition Integration
- Security Architecture
Look at your organization. Are any of these questions being pondered? Even better, can you see that any of them will be pondered in a couple of weeks? Start work. Be ready and deliver a useful analysis (keep in mind the productivity point-you only need to get enough work done to help with the analysis and decision making)
8 things to do with your TOGAF Certification
TOGAF certification was one step on the journey to being a better enterprise architect. You took the time to study your industry standard framework. You have a common language and conceptual model to do solid enterprise architecture.
But, like a college student you probably do not know how to put your foundational knowledge to work. The 8 things to do with your TOGAF Certification are starting points that will improve your confidence, skill, and usefulness as an enterprise architect.
If you would like to jump-start your journey we'd welcome you to our free Personal EA Kickstart program or any of our paid training programs.