Technical Mastery is not a goal for an Enterprise Architect…

An enterprise architect is a true hybrid. You must be able to help business people of all disciplines work in problem spaces that cover the external eco-system, business models, operating models, processes, organisation, technology and information. The down side is that you almost certainly will not be an expert in any one area. 

You will be a jack of all trades, master of none. This leaves you open to accusations, particularly from IT architects, of being a lightweight, of lacking depth, of being technically weak and out of date. This can be painful for an enterprise architect with a background and reputation as a technology guru.

Business people tend to be kinder.  They appreciate someone who has come over to their side.  They need IT people who understand and view their problems as business issues.  They want an honest broker. But you are not one of them and you will be in deep trouble if you start to think that you are, but you are trying. 

Being a hybrid that has moved from IT, being a true enterprise architect, puts you in the middle. You are no longer in IT, but you can’t transition to the business.  You can add huge value by bridging the gap, you can also get lonely because you just don’t fit.

To remain valuable, you must be learning all the time. When a new technology arrives, you need to understand the key features. What business value can it add? What is just hype? Can you anticipate the gotchas? How does it supersede old solutions and address issues in older technologies?  What is the new language that goes with it, how does this relate to the old language?

Growing business capability is equally important.  This happens at several levels – what are industry trends, what is the latest thinking for improving business operations, who are the new entrants in the market, where are the threats, where are the opportunities, what is happening on the shop floor, how is technology changing the business?

You won’t have time to be an expert technologist but you will be able to engage in strategic decision making and set a technical direction that delivers business goals – and that is where an IT oriented enterprise architect can add value, not by indulging in technical mastery.

4 thoughts on “Technical Mastery is not a goal for an Enterprise Architect…

  1. When I started practicing enterprise architecture. I found it more difficult to build credibility with my technical architects, than the business. Constantly learning about new technologies and proving you know it was very important. Once my credibility was established with the technology side of the house, change became much easier. Enterprise Architect ARE truly hybrids.

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  2. One problem that a hybrid faces is when his technical or solution architects are vested in the success of a particular technology. In that case, he remains a hammer and, after exhausting his nails, comes looking for yours!Then, the non-technical architect is lost. He cannot burst through the wall-of-noise that he is being fed by the people he needs to trust, to find the real solution underneath that is actually right for the enterprise.So you are right: the EA is not highly technical, but he must be able to be, sometimes, to break through the bad habits and unprofessional practices that are rampant in a large IT shop.

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  3. Is this really so bad being an EA? I mean, I am actually in training to become an EA but this scenario you are painting give me bad thoughts about what I am getting into.I do enjoy being a techie but I do believe that technology for technology´s sake is meaningless. So help business get better is a true goal.Could you tell me about the rewards of this job ?

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  4. I think this is a good picture for the right person, you have to want to be a "hybrid". It is only through being a hybrid that you can be a major player in achieving large scale change. And that is where the big kicks come from for enterprise architects. You need to be a challenge junkie – there will be technical challenges but the bigger challenges are business and people related.

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