Why Do You Want to be a Business Architect?

by Jeff Scott, on May 19, 2016 10:55:39 AM

Before you read this post I want to tell you about our upcoming webinar: Strategy Execution 101, Friday, June 3, 2016 - 10:30AM ET.  Jack Calhoun and I will discuss  what you can do to improve the collaboration between leaders and business architects to yield better insights and better strategy execution results. More about this webinar in my next post. Stay tuned.


The first question I usually ask my business architect clients is “why do you want to be a business architect?” I think it is particularly telling that almost none of them can tell me. They can go on for hours about the value of business architecture and how it provides strategic clarity, creates synergy, and reduces operational complexity which is all true. But these are outcomes of having a business architecture not reasons for being a business architect. They don’t answer the essential question “Why do … YOU … WANT … to be a business architect?” What I am trying to get at here is the motivation for becoming a business architect. As it turns out, this is a really difficult question for most people to answer. Not because it takes a lot of data gathering and complex analysis but because it takes serious introspection and self-understanding. 

A while back I stumbled upon Simon Sinek’s TED video: How Great Leaders Inspire Action. It was really inspirational and gave me an entirely new way to look at what I do. I guarantee it to be worth the 18 minutes you will invest to watch it. The video is based on Sinek’s book: Start With Why which is good but not really great. Watch the video - it says it all. Sinek’s core idea is the golden circle. His fundamental message is simple but powerful: start with why. Most organizations describe themselves by what they do, but highly successful organizations describe themselves by why they do what they do. So, why do you want to be a business architect? This question gets to our beliefs about who we are and how we perceive our role. When we ask why, what we are really asking is what we believe about our organizations and the world around us that drives us to the think we way we think and do what we do.

This is a more important question than you might imagine. Your success as a business architect hinges on your answer. Business architecture is difficult to succeed at so why do you want to take it on.  Here are just some of the challenges:

High failure rates - Forrester’s research shows that over half of all business architecture initiatives fail. The majority of current business architects are struggling for relevance and there are very few business architecture practices that have reached full sustainability.

No one is asking for business architecture – While architects think business architecture creates great value and is something every organization should have, the concept is still unknown to most senior managers. It isn’t that they don’t like business architecture, it is just that they don’t know what it is and are skeptical of its value. The bottom line here is business architecture is a hard sell.

Few best practices to follow – Everyone wants to know what the business architecture best practices are but unfortunately there are very few to be found. There are a few things that seem like good ideas such as creating a standard engagement model and defining a strategy execution process but even these haven’t been widely proven to create success. Most successful business architecture practices are finding their way, creating a practice that resonates with their unique organization. This isn’t easy for anyone.

Business architecture goes against the grain – The organizations that need business architecture the most are those whose culture drives independent decision making and action. Dealing with culture and political issues is the number one issue for business architects and by and large we are not prepared for it.
The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________
People are attracted to business architecture for a variety of reasons. The problem is they have rarely thought about what those reasons are. Some are driven by ego and control needs. Some are naïve. Some misunderstand the role. The essential question for you is: “WHY?” 


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