Which Enterprise Architect did you mean?

The IT industry has a magnificent history of appropriating titles and then through the process of demand outstripping supply, diluting the skills and requirements for those roles to a new lowest common denominator based average.

Continue reading “Which Enterprise Architect did you mean?”

Is EA broken? Does EA have value?

These are the questions de jour on many forums, in recent trade articles and across the LinkedIn environment. It would be easy to simply respond with “no” and move on, but nobody has time for such a short response, so this longer response is required.

I have always been a huge fan of utilising analogies to explain concepts, so I shall not deviate from my previously successful actions and do the same here by exploring EA via the analogy of a Marketing Plan.

I doubt anyone would disagree these days that any corporation should operate without a Marketing Plan and that as such, any efforts expanded by a corporation would otherwise, at best, be considered ad-hoc and, at worst, wasteful and disorganised.

A Plan is, according to many dictionaries, defined as “a scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective”.

A marketing plan is not a spreadsheet of activities. It’s not an editorial calendar. It’s not a list of surveys, research assignments and campaigns. It’s not a budget or set of goals. It isn’t a set of articles or models from McKinsey. It isn’t something you think you have in your head.
It is a strategy.
It helps focus resources.
It is a plan for activities that stimulate objectives – like sales and growth.

The planning process helps you to understand the different factors that may affect your success. The process of creating a strategy plan involves three steps:

  1. An analysis of the firm’s internal and external environments;
  2. A decision on the what to emphasise and project; and
  3. The selection of action plans to guide the enterprise.

The very first, and arguably most important step, is to perform research and analysis of your business and the market it serves. Once you are confident that you know your business, your market and what you have to offer – then define your goals. With your goals in sight, you will then need to determine the guidance and tactics you will undertake in order to achieve them. Ideally, by mapping them into your landscape via some situational awareness.

Now, instead of worrying about the future, you actually have a sense of control over your direction, because your decisions, and any unexpected issues, are guided by an overall map and strategy governance.

This is as true for Marketing plans as it is Enterprise Strategies.

Throughout the processes of creating, implementing and evaluating your plan, it is important to realise just how valuable mapping and planning is for your company.

The secondary question of frameworks, methods or schools of thought are, to my mind, of little consequence in the overall argument. No amount of textbook correct implementation of FEAF, Zachman or <insert sparkly-new-fandangled framework here> is of any use if it does not produce – and communicate – a plan.

An Enterprise Architecture, just like a Marketing Plan, is a strategy that functions as a blueprint for everyone within the organisation to not simply see, but also to be guided by and follow. The company as a whole will know in what direction it is going – thus causing energy and efforts to be amalgamated and focused.

If you are not doing this as an EA, then yes, I may be inclined to agree that you are the problem and, by extension, your company is likely to believe that EA holds no value.

Whilst I may disagree with a few of the definitions spouted by many respondents and claimants of expertise across the many forums and articles I have read, my initial yardstick of measure will be the success the communication of “the plan” has had on the non-IT departments of the corporation – namely the support they offer and the amalgamated effort that is spent by those departments in aiming to achieve its success.

What social media can offer us as consultants …

At first glance social media might seem to be a bit of a productivity black hole.

Oh, don’t worry – I’ve heard a great deal of reasons and excuses of why it should be avoided.

At best, naysayers are happy to proffer it with a huxleyan warning that it is a cesspool of activity in which people can amuse themselves to death whilst being constrained into an electronic prison where we are targeted by vendors whilst fed a false sense of personal freedom. In fact, the worst thing I have seen it called is an electronic feeding ground for emotionally crippled, narcissistic pariahs.

Yet, to my mind, I think that the accessibility of immediate, transparent, global, (practically) free (as in speech, not beer) communication is one of the most breathtaking information advances since the telephone. Continue reading “What social media can offer us as consultants …”

Removing the blinkers: Being informed and questioning in the age of information overload

I have always work under the assumption that a well read individual is a better informed individual.

So started a conversation between a contact and myself recently.

Continue reading “Removing the blinkers: Being informed and questioning in the age of information overload”

The thoughts that raise the questions that invoke the thoughts that …

My brain is swirling with half-thoughts, musings, wonderings and a general mess of clues of connectedness.

There’s so many aspects happening that I don’t even know where to start. For example … Continue reading “The thoughts that raise the questions that invoke the thoughts that …”

2013: The Corporate (and IT) strategic trends

Over on LinkedIn, in a conversation regarding “Gartner: Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends For 2013” I made the call that the list is basically the top ten growth items from 2012.  So, the challenge was given to me “So out of interest what would you add to the list for 2013?”

I could not answer that in the allotted character limitation for LinkedIn comment boxes … Continue reading “2013: The Corporate (and IT) strategic trends”

the rules for blog entries should be the same as they are for essays

Looking at social media, my previous points in regards to socialisation, conversation and interaction still hold, but I do think that when writing, there should be some rules.

If you want to plan out a post, then think of it as an argumentative essay or scientific paper. There is no word limit, but anything over a thousand words and the TL;DR effect will kick in before anyone scrolls down past the first screen.

So, what’s the first rule? Have a subject and stick to it. You can’t cover everything. Don’t try. So, make your point up front. Whether it is an hypothesis, an outrageous claim, a statement of force or a personal appeal – state it.

Strongly. Clearly. Own it. Sell it.

Make no mistake, it’s on trial. You are its defender. So, make the case. Gather the evidence. Highlight the facts. Don’t fall into the common fallacies of logic.

It’s not going to be easy. It’s a hostile jury. They are jaded and sceptical. They’ve been exposed to so many lies and liars in their lifetime. Their automatic assumption is that you are as well. Get that jury on your side!

Careful though, because you need to make sure you are not self-convinced and find yourself seduced by hubris, pride or your own belief system.

Tear apart your subject. Play the devil’s advocate. Don’t become complacent or self-satisfied. Rip into it as if you’re the opposition.

Examine your reasoning. Why are you correct? Have you considered the opposite view? Where did your ideas and opinions come from? Who benefits from your position? Is it misguided? Look for flaws in your own logic and gaps in your evidence.

Be human about it. Sure, ensure your arguments are logical and support your position clearly, but be ethical. Be honest. Establish your position by being fair to opposing views. Connect to the audience. Bring in the emotional element. Share some empathy. Put a human face on the subject. Give the reader a reason for caring. What’s in it for them? Let them know!

So, now, structure it.

Introduce the topic, build the argument, bridge the audience, and the flow it down into the conclusion. It should be a conclusion, by the way. A conclusion is not just summary of what you’ve already said. It is your closing arguments.

Here’s the hard part though, because your blog should be part of your conversation with your readers, don’t forget to provide a way for your readers to interact with you.

Don’t close it off. Give your readers a reason to comment. Pose a related or follow up question. Seek alternative views, or advice. Engage them. Make them interested in participating with you and your conversation.