The Enterprise Architecture Paradox (Chapter 8)


Breaking Down the Enterprise Architecture Paradox

1/ Depth versus flexibility

  • The businesses you support tend not to fit into one architectural model.
  • Different problem domains do not fit so well into one ideal mega-model view of the world.


2/ As is versus future state

  • Enterprise architects often spend far too much time inventorying where they are now, rather than thinking through where they are going.
  • Spend more time thinking about where we are going, not where we are now.

3/ Theoretical versus practical

  • Balance theoretical architectural models and tools with delivery needs of projects on the ground.
  • If your architecture organization spends too much time creating esoteric or very conceptual single models of the world, it is easy for them to become disconnected from the people who are actually trying to build and implement solutions.


Think About How You Manage the Function

1/ Be specific

  • CIOs who manage enterprise architecture functions are more apt to keep their groups focused on the future if they are specific about their goals.


2/ Resist sending your architects off on tangents

  • If you are constantly pulling your architects onto tactical projects, you may get a hundred little things done, but you’ll never get that long-term value.

3/ But don’t overlook the short term

  • To balance the long-term planning versus short-term value conundrum is to build a plan for every application.
  • By developing a plan for every application, you quickly save money by identifying applications that you can consolidate and simply shut off, while at the same time, you are setting the road map for the future.

Find the Right Talent
1/ Look beyond technology skills

  • Your enterprise architect needs to get out of a single model and be able to move from one technology to another, to be able to transition as the stack needs to transition.
  • You need to hire the right talent now to be prepared for a future you cannot see.
  • One key to staffing your enterprise architecture function is avoiding the temptation to promote your strongest technologist into the role; soft skills, are an important part of the equation.


2/ Make it formal and commit the time

  • While you’re always on the lookout for management potential, be eager also to identify people with the technical skills to develop into architects.


3/ Get ’em while they’re fresh

  • From the pool of recent college graduates. This way, new hires learn how we do business, and that drives consistency and productivity.


4/ Resist the urge to put them to work too quickly

  • Train them phase by phase, give ample time for them to understand and absorb the culture and processes of the organization.


5/ Go it alone

  • The best candidates to lead enterprise architecture often do not want the job. Or, they do want the job, and they take it, but not for long.


  • Grow your own. Keep an eagle-eye on your IT ranks and always be on the lookout for those beautifully blended technology executives. When you find one, develop her, but don’t mistake technical talent for EA talent.

  • Make them as senior as you can. When EA leadership roles report to the CIO, the search is more successful and the talent is better. EA leaders are wary of reporting too low in the organization where they will not have the vantage point or visibility to do their work. If you push EA leadership down too many rungs, you will wind up with solution architects, not strategists or visionaries.

  • Balance their work. Focus your enterprise architecture too far into the future, and they will wind up lost in academics and theories. Bury their heads in projects, and you’ll never have a roadmap. Like so much of the CIO’s role, managing the EA function is a balancing act.
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