Broaden Your Horizons

On every architect’s bookshelf you’ll find a lof of books. Unfortunately the titles of those books are likely to contain words such as: architecture, pattern, model, design and development (to name a few). I find it amazing that everyone talks about “business IT alignment” but many architects bury their noses only in technical books. Technical competence is the bare minimum that is expected of architects. To take the next step you need to broaden your horizons.

Here’s a suggestion – for every TWO technical books (or articles) you read, read ONE book (or article) from one of the following ‘genres’.

Personal Effectiveness and Branding
Time management and efficiency are critical to getting your job done. There is a limit to how much ‘harder’ you can work. Learn to work ‘smarter’. Everyone ‘knows’ how to chair a meeting or make a presentation. But not many know how to do it effectively.

Branding is important. One of the reasons IT folk have trouble interacting with the business is because they look, talk and act like IT folk. You can learn to ‘fit in’ if you make the effort.

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Leadership
Enterprise architecture should be about these three things. No book can teach you how to be an innovative and inspiring leader or the next billionaire entrepreneur. But you can pick up plenty of tips and ideas on how to think outside the box and get those creative juices flowing.

Sales and Marketing
IT folk are hopeless seem to sell their ideas. If you haven’t learned this by now, here’s a free tip: if you’re an architect and you’re relying on the technical brilliance of your ideas to speak for themselves – find another job because you’ll never be effective in your current one.

Personal Relationships
The trouble with any organisation is that it’s full of those pesky things called “people”. What’s even worse is that these “people” tend not to listen intently to your every word, mindlessly agree and then slavishly obey. Bit of a shame that. While you’re trying to invent some brainwashing device to make everyone see things your way, how about you read the odd book about negotiation, conflict resolution, dealing with difficult clients and ‘winning friends and influencing people.’

This list isn’t definitive – but it’s a start.

Broadening your interests will make you a far more effective enterprise architect. The non-technical side should be half of your job and you need to work on it just as hard as you work on the technical side.


2 Responses to Broaden Your Horizons

  1. E.A. Anon says:

    Good advice but maybe slightly missing the point as it depends on what the expectations of the IT / Business are of the EA group. In some (many?) shops, EA is indeed just technical and not expected to be any more than that. I agree that in theory EA could be/should be much more, but that’s not going to be achieved by having some techie EA guy reading a book or two on business strategy. For that you would need experienced business or business/IT hybrid types to come in and take the EA team to the next level.

  2. rafcammarano says:

    I agree that in many cases the EA Group is a technical function. While the tiny minority EA Groups have a proactive role in shaping business strategy the vast majority do not. However, in ALL EA Group must *engage* with the business. This interaction will be far more effective if the EA guys can communicate effectively in non-tech speak.

    And I absolutely agree – reading a book or two is not enough – a change in mindset is needed.

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