What does it take to become a star Enterprise Architect in 2022?
Avolution sat down for a panel discussion with three seasoned industry professionals to get their thoughts on the successful Enterprise Architect’s playbook. David Hornford is a Partner at Conexiam who has worked in a variety of industries and formerly served as the Chair of the Open Group. Christine Stephenson is a Consultant at Penrod Consulting who has managed many successful business units and has special expertise in strategy and IT management. Darryl Carr is editor of the Enterprise Architecture Professional Journal and a Consulting Enterprise Architect at JourneyOne with over 30 years of experience specializing solution architecture and enterprise architecture.
Here are three key takeaways from their discussion:
Soft Skills for Enterprise Architects
While technical expertise can be helpful, soft skills are often what set a star Enterprise Architect apart.
According to the panelists, collaboration is a key skill among high-performing Architects – knowing which experts to bring in at what time allows you to gain a complete view of the organization. “The skill of collaborating and knowing how to form an answer rather than having the background or experience to state the answer is an absolute critical requirement for the job” says Hornford.
According to Carr, empathy is another important skill to have. Being able to understand the concerns of your organization’s stakeholders helps you to tailor solutions and ensure you’re making meaningful changes. Critical thinking is also necessary to analyze and understand the problems your organization is facing.
Putting these skills into practice requires an open dialogue within your organization. Carr makes the point that as an Architect, you will need to question current ways of doing things: “Having the safety to be able to have those conversations and challenge the status quo and come up with ideas … is an important thing to encourage in organizations.”
Important Relationships to Build as an Architect
Enterprise Architects can’t work in a vacuum. Building relationships across the organization allows you to understand how things are functioning at the employee level and affect change.
“Happy employees are productive employees” says Stephenson, “so if we give them tools that are simple and enjoyable to work with then they’re going to be extremely productive.”
Stephenson also noted that the most important relationships she built in her career were with the HR Team. Working closely with them, she was able to make changes that improved employee wellbeing and demonstrated the value Enterprise Architecture can bring to an organization.
Hornford noted that working closely with business operations is the best way to zero in on where change is taking place in the organization. Carr argues that a successful Architect should be working to build relationships with everyone in the organization, as that can provide them with the viewpoints from which to analyze problem areas.
Enterprise and Business Architecture Frameworks
With numerous frameworks available to Architects, which are most useful in 2022?
The panelists agree that while frameworks are beneficial, they are only one element of successful Enterprise Architecture.
“Organizations are meant to be using these frameworks as references” says Stephenson, “they are not the prescription of how you do enterprise architecture.”
Whether you are using an broad framework like TOGAF or Zachman, an industry-specific framework like BIAN or DODAF, or a domain-specific framework like SABSA for security, you should think about your organization’s needs and the problems you are trying to solve. With the right framework, architects can understand problems and implement solutions faster.
In addition, architects can also supplement their practice with other solution development or change management frameworks such as PESTLE and Business Model Canvas that are not developed specifically for enterprise architecture.