Five MORE Questions Business Architects Should be Able to Answer

by Jeff Scott, on Oct 1, 2015 5:30:22 PM

Fiver_more_questionsFor the most part, business architects get to create their world. Their manager doesn’t know that much about business architecture and there are very few valid reference models to work from so we are free to build our business architecture program the way we want it. So why aren’t we building highly successful business architecture programs? I work with a lot of business architects. I find them to be highly intelligent, deeply dedicated to both their profession and their company’s success, and well-skilled at their craft. But I don’t find them to be particularly introspective. Occasionally it is helpful to step back from the day-to-day work and ask yourself some penetrating questions. Last time I wrote about the business architects personal perspective. Here are a few that just might help you build a better business architecture program:

What harm does business architecture do? Yes you heard that right, what harm do we as business architects do? No matter what our role, we look for the value we add and pay little attention to the problems we might be causing. If you are an advocate of systems thinking then you should know that anytime you interject a change in a system new problems develop. It may be true that the good we do far outweighs the bad but it is the new problem set we introduce that slows us down. We can move much faster if we understand the answer to this question. So, what harm are you doing and what are you doing about that?
Does your organization WANT a business architecture program? Not does it need one, but does it want one. If it does, you are in an extremely rare position. Very, very few business architecture teams are chartered by an executive. They are most often started through grassroots efforts that finally convince someone that it is a really good idea. So if your organization doesn’t want a business architecture practice today, how are you going to create that need and make them want it tomorrow?
Do you understand your organization’s culture and are you ready to deal with it?  Forrester and others have pointed out that the number one challenge for business architecture success is dealing with culture, and yet, most business architects ignore cultural issues completely. Does culture and politics affect the success of your business architecture program? Is it a problem for you to solve? If it is, what are you doing about it? If it isn’t, whose problem is it to solve?
What are business managers paid to do? Executives and managers are our target audience. While many executives might be focused on change, the manager’s role is different. They have a much stronger bias toward keeping things the same or at least minimizing risk and disruption. Do you have a deep understanding of what your managers are chartered to do, how they are incentivized, and how they think about their roles and responsibilities? If not, you should start some conversations.
Is it easier to build business architecture models or is it easier to attain organizational adoption? Ok, you know the answer to this one – building the models is the easy part. The real question here is how are you spending your time? Are you spending more time on building your organizational influence than on learning how to build better models? If not, shouldn’t you be?
Bonus Question.
What is essential to business architecture success? My good friend, and amazing thinker, Len Fehskens at The Open Group, pointed out to me that if architects are not successful then it logically follows that they are not doing everything that is essential to success. I don’t currently know what the “essential for success” list is for business architecture. But I am pretty sure knowing the answers to the five questions above and the five in my previous post is essential to success. Oh yea, you have to act on the answers too – even if you don’t want to.

The bottom line:______________________________________________________________________

Most of success in business architecture (as in life) has little to do with technical competency. It has much more to do with how you navigate the world around you. True, you can’t change much of it, but you can learn how to deal with it. You should be building a business architecture practice that works in your environment. 


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