Five Questions Every Business Architect Should be Able to Answer

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. As business architects, we put a lot of energy into modeling our organization’s strategies, processes, technologies, and capabilities – i.e. things “out there”, but we rarely take time to look under the hood and think about the things “in here”. Occasionally it is helpful to step back from the day-to-day work and ask yourself some penetrating questions. Here are a few to start with:

Why do you want to be a business architect?

I don’t mean what you want to accomplish as a business architect – lower cost, less complexity, more focused strategy execution. What I mean is why do YOU want to BE a business architect? Do you know? Most business architects I work with don’t. They find this question very difficult to answer. There are many easier professional paths to take – why are you taking this one?

What is your role as a business architect?

Hint, it isn’t to build a business architecture. Nobody cares about having one, they care about what you can do with it. Is your primary role to provide information, reduce complexity, facilitate decisions, enable strategy, drive change, or something else? How you answer this question says a lot about your approach to business architecture and your likelihood of long-term success. 

Does it matter where you sit?

Very few business architects report to the CEO and many are buried deep within the IT department. How important is organizational positioning to your success? If you think you need to report somewhere else, what are you doing to make that happen?

What does leadership mean to you?

Do you think of leaders as those “in charge” with “authority”?  Or do you see leaders as people who make things happen? You don’t have to be at the top of the organization to be a leader. In fact the people at the top got there because they demonstrated leadership at the bottom of the organization. Are you a leader? Do you want to be?

What personal changes are you willing to make to be a successful business architect?

Can you be a successful business architect with the skills and personal attributes you have today? What do you think you need to change about yourself to get your organization to follow your lead? Are you willing to explore the question of who you need to become and are you willing to change to become who you need to be?

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 “show up” and that is largely based on how well you know yourself. A little introspection can go a long way to enhancing your success.

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