Enterprise Architect

What is an enterprise architect? Someone who helps stakeholders make deliberate change. They use a consistent approach to simplify complex environments.

Enterprise architect is a profession, not a measure of seniority.
Enterprise architects have a unique advisory role and must serve others.

What is an Enterprise Architect

There are circular discussions about what is an enterprise architect. The work performed by an enterprise architect varies wildly. Our understanding of the profession should reflect this. Instead, we are sloppy with language.

We use several specialized terms to describe sales.

  • Enterprise sales
  • Inside sales
  • Business development
  • Outside sales

Imagine if they were all called "Sales." Welcome to most discussions about EA.

To understand there are four issues.

  1. Enterprise architect is not a seniority award
  2. An enterprise architect is a servant leader
  3. An enterprise architect supports others decide
  4. An enterprise architect's value proposition is their ability to analyze

At the core, enterprise architect is a job. It can be a profession. It is not a measure of seniority. It is never a measure of technical knowledge.

The job exists for a reason. To improve your organization's ability to make effective change. Select the right change. Direct and control the change.

Manage the Decision Cycle

Enterprise Architecture Decsion CycleSuccessful EA needs to manage the decision cycle to help stakeholders with deliberate change..

Foremost, this means you work before they decide. I am continually amazed at how people oversimplify a decision cycle. They think we gather some information and decide. Then we act. Seriously?

Decision processes are often complex. For a straightforward decision all we do is bring in the facts, analyze them according to an appropriate model. Comparing which online service to use, or which commodity branded product is a simple decision. Price and delivery terms of the only variables in the equation.

Hard problems have a complex cycle getting to a decision. Along the journey, we will many small decisions. All small decisions are subject to review. You need to hold small decisions lightly. They guide our journey they do not constrain it.

More complex decisions mix evidence, intuition, experience, and bargaining into the decision-making process.

Good enterprise architects need to manage the decision process.

What is Enterprise Architecture

EA is a simplified description of the complex real-world. The simplification lets us understand enough so that we can embark on change with confidence.

We understand what must change to reach an outcome and how to change.

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Security Architecture is a cross-cutting domain. It cannot exist in the absence of a business or information systems architecture.

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Why we use Avolution ABACUS

ABACUS supports an analytic approach to enterprise architecture. Enterprise architects who analyze a system will understand how to change it to meet a set of goals. ABACUS supports better architecture development.

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Enterprise architect jobs exist to

minimize difficulty with successful improvement

improve your organization’s ability to change

Enterprise architect is a profession

When we mentor architects, we spend a lot of time covering what enterprise architects do. Far too many people with the job title “enterprise architect” are not architects and do not perform enterprise architecture.

Enterprise architecture is a job. It is not a measure of seniority.
Enterprise architect is a profession, not a measure of seniority.

Our profession is transitioning from being invented to becoming stable. It may vanish. The work high functioning enterprise architects perform won’t go away. Organizations need the work. We just might not call it enterprise architecture.

An enterprise architect is Servant Leader

Never stop leading. This leading is the most difficult leadership you will ever do. No one works for you. You own no decisions. You support and manage stakeholder decision-making cycles. Then when the action starts, you stop.

One contradiction after another. Lead without doing. Advise without deciding.

Leading without power. Leading for others. It is servant leadership. Servant leadership traces its origins to Robert Greenleaf. He described servant leadership like this:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.”

If you need to decide, get a different job. If you need to execute, get a different job. Neither is what an enterprise architect does..

Keep in mind that often your stakeholders cannot articulate their real priorities. They will confuse tactical issues with priorities. They will confuse top of mind issues with where they’re trying to take their organization.

The art is teasing out the balance of short- and long-term objectives. Ensuring your advice recognizes all objectives as equally valid. If you ignore short-term issues, your architecture is addressing a subset of the stakeholder concerns. If your advice panders to issue-of-the-day, you are serving a subset of your stakeholder’s concerns.

An enterprise architect supports others decide

I cannot count the number of times I've seen struggling practitioners think they own a decision. Usually applying parochial criteria.

Enterprise architects have a unique advisory role and must serve others.

You’re in the room to serve your stakeholders. To provide them with the advice necessary to make better decisions about changes that will improve your organization. To provide them with the measures to ensure the changes realize the value they were expecting.

Stakeholders won architecture decisions.

Implementers (sponsors & implementers) own implementation decisions.

An enterprise architect's value proposition is their ability to analyze

How do you help others decide? It isn't specialized knowledge. That is the province of a subject matter expert.

In order to support good decision-making, you need to excel at analysis. You need to take a complex environment apart and simplify it.

You simplification has to do a set of very hard feats

  • Focus attention on the source of deficiency
  • Focus attention on the change that removes the deficiency
  • Provide the ability to decide if the benefit is worth to work and worth the risk

Your stakeholders will tie your value proposition to your analysis. You are going to have to weigh competing specialists and arcane knowledge. The value is being able to weigh.

In Conexiam's consulting practice, we also value hard truths. Don’t be afraid to tell the inconvenient truth.

Start in the same place I do when I’m mentoring an enterprise architect—why are you in the room?

You’re in the room to serve your stakeholders. To provide them with the advice necessary to make better decisions about changes that will improve your organization. To provide them with the measures to ensure the changes realize the value they were expecting.

They tie your value proposition to analysis. We tie your value proposition to hard truths.

It is a fun profession if you want to help others. We get a lot of satisfaction helping organizations improve dramatically.

Enterprise Architecture boils down to constraints. Every constraint has the potential to limit the creativity of an agile software development team. If there is no overriding need for constraint, do not. Just Don’t.

There is one basic rule for a high-functioning enterprise architect: never remove a degree of freedom if you don’t have to. Freedom to innovate and creativity are the lifeblood of agile software development.

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Enterprise Architect's Guide

Download the Enterprise Architect's Guide a TOGAF Series Guide on developing useful enterprise architecture. test

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