The Middle Management Opportunity for Business Architects
by Jeff Scott, on Jul 23, 2015 12:30:00 PM
The Holy Grail for business architecture startups is executive sponsorship. Though difficult to get, executive sponsorship can quickly move a business architecture program forward with funding and influence. But what if you, like the vast majority of business architects, don’t have a direct line to senior executives?
Business architecture pundits tell you that you must have senior executive sponsorship to succeed; however, most of us don’t get that sponsorship day one. We typically have to earn it. Often the shortest path to success is not a straight line. Business architects are well connected to individual contributors and first level management and can use those connections to earn executive buy-in.
The typical middle management response to corporate goals and visionary strategy is “what the heck do I do now?” Business architects can help middle managers throughout the organization create a coordinated and constructive response to strategic intent. Here are four ways business architects can meaningfully contribute to the strategic dialog.
Create middle management focus groups to interpret executive goals and strategies. Work with one line of business, business unit, or department at a time to create a common response to corporate strategy and a common strategy implementation process. Use capability models, value maps, the business model canvas, and other business tools to help mangers discover their unique strategic contribution opportunities.
Align support groups with business unit strategy. Once one or more business units have a clear response to corporate strategy, business architects can help support organizations such as HR, IT, Compliance, and Shared Services tightly align their strategic activities with what the business units need.
Connect the middle management dots. You will be surprised at how little managers from one business area know about other business areas. Once you have helped multiple business units create their response to corporate strategy, help managers identify areas of synergy and leverage. When you do this in a “let’s build something together” approach you get much more support than when you are trying to gain synergies after the fact by taking things away.
Help middle managers solve their local problems. Not all problems are strategic. Every middle manager has a set of issues specific to the organization they manage. Help them solve these problems and you have an advocate for doing bigger things.
The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________
Middle managers are the lynchpin of strategy execution. They frequently struggle more than the executives above them and the individual contributors below them. They often control large budgets and other resources. Make this group your friend by helping them with their challenges. You will be well rewarded for this effort.