What personal characteristics, knowledge and skills are most commonly found in effective enterprise architects? Although not at all intuitive, several traits are even more important than knowledge of enterprise architecture.
As the discipline of EA has broadened beyond technical architecture in recent years to include business, information and solution architecture, deep technical expertise is even less essential – and can be a liability if the individual has a “favourite” vendor/product. The most effective enterprise architects have numerous strengths, which are even more important than their EA knowledge.
The Best Enterprise Architectures Think Architecturally
The best enterprise architects have a way of thinking that is distinct and different from other disciplines. Architectural thinking is not thinking like a business analyst, or a solution developer, or an operations manager, or a project manager.
Enthusiasm is the Key
A passion for life, work and Enterprise Architecture goes a long way. Far too many architects are rendered much less effective simply due to a lack of enthusiasm in their communication about Enterprise Architecture.
Knack for Explicit Architectures
There are three things that the best enterprise architects do here:
- They explicitly show how the current architecture constrains the enterprise. They show how the architecture limits operations or how it prevents the business from achieving its objectives.
- They explicitly show how a future architecture enables the capabilities that matter in the enterprise.
- And they explicitly show the future architectural options that are possible from current, transition and future architectures.
Being Articulate and persuasive
Enterprise architects must spend substantial time communicating and educating. Therefore, it is important that they have the skills to clearly communicate ideas in a persuasive, compelling manner.
Persistence is Essential
Enterprise architects are strategically inspired change agents. People tend to resist change (in most areas), and we certainly find this with the behavioural change being introduced by an EA programme. Therefore, it is critical to be persistent in pursuit of positive transformation.
Good enterprise architects view the enterprise or the scope of an architecture initiative as a system. They use systems thinking to analyse and understand the architecture. They do not just focus on IT!
TOGAF helps here, firstly by emphasizing the four high-level domain views (business, data, application and technology), and secondly by including a fairly wide range in the content framework.
Enterprise Architects Deliver Capabilities
Finally, the best enterprise architects focus their change efforts around business capabilities.
Each architectural change delivers either a new capability or a significant improvement to an existing one. EA is uniquely positioned to do this. Why? A capability is a complex and aggregate mix of different organizational components; all of the elements and components are crucial. Understanding such compound creatures is exactly what good enterprise architects do all the time. And EA techniques are the best way to formally describe such capabilities.
TOGAF is based around capability analysis and improvement. So there is a lot of help from TOGAF here.