Human Dynamics in Enterprise Architecture: BiZZdesign’s Top Tips for establishing a Value-Driven & Influential Enterprise Architecture Practice

Brenda Cowie
Posted by Brenda Cowie on Apr 23, 2012

Enterprise Architecture

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This article takes you about three minutes to read.

As BiZZdesign is called in to help clients elevate their Enterprise Architecture programs globally, we have been on the front lines & observed, influenced and facilitated many discussions in order to move EA initiatives forward.

Below are some tips we have collected over the years:

  • EA teams often face great challenges in introducing new ways of thinking about and funding IT and getting senior level management genuinely committed to it. In some cases you must educate your superiors as to what EA can do for them, this can be done in workshops, sharing best practice information, outlining the value in creating re-usable building blocks etc. If the commitment to move forward is not in place, they run the risk of falling back to old habits.
  • EA teams must build the culture of taking IT to a higher level and reaping the benefits, always the overall message in your communications is that EA & IT should enable business success, not dictate how they do things, you position yourself as a partner to the business enabling agility and cost savings.
  • Sometimes you need to NOT label your initiative as EA. We have found in some instances that working in “Business Architecture” or talking about “Business Capabilities” gains traction for EA teams faster than presenting EA initiatives. Use what works in your organization. AS the success comes and the value is derived, people can then be enlightened as to how it ties in to Enterprise Architecture.
  • How to get people to share? In one organization we know, the new EA practice lead created an architecture “Town Hall” where architects found themselves discussing key challenges with architects from different groups in the organization(often, for the first time). Each architect was expected to attend each session and bring a question to pose to the group. This idea exchange became a real team building activity and fostered relationships between groups and people that did not previously exist.
  • The EA lead will encounter some Human Dynamics challenges on the journey to improving and maturing the Enterprise Architecture practice across the organization and must be prepared to face them. These may include:
    - financial motivators
    - political agendas
    - reorganizations
    - a lack of in-place incentives for personnel to follow the program
    - strong personalities (prima donna’s or independent spirits?)
    - working with cross-functional teams
    - team members with the wrong skill-fit for the task

A large component of the role is your ability to navigate, negotiate and influence those around you in order to do what is best for the organization as a whole.

  • The more you walk and talk like the business, the quicker and better your message will resonate with them. As a result of IT’s increasingly strategic contributions, the line between IT and the business is a blurry one. Get to know your business as much as you can in order to consider the various benefits and drawbacks of different approaches and ensure your message is consumable.
  • Find other groups internally that you can leverage. At one BiZZdesign client, a large complex organization, we not only trained their large group of architects in TOGAF but we also decided to train their PMO group as well but with a lighter course. Here was a large group who already had established relationships throughout the organization both on the IT and Business side. It was thought to be of great benefit to leverage that, get everyone speaking the same language and have the PMO group act as ambassadors of EA.
  • Be better able to Support your business through improved information sharing. This can be done in various ways. While technical improvements can enable information sharing, technical solutions alone are not enough. The goal is to transform the internal community in a way that results in much greater and more effective communication between different groups in the organization. Communicating the benefits and value of what you are delivering improves the quality, applicability, and usage of the results of your EA initiatives.

Developing a culture that rewards information sharing & cooperation is central to changing behaviors and the organization’s culture to one that works together for the benefit of the enterprise longer-term rather than having people focus on short term, immediate need gains is a key factor for success.

  • Enable the transformation of culture necessary for increased cooperation &information sharing between business and IT: policies, governance models, standards, personnel evaluation/awards, and compliance mechanisms. This must come from top-down and takes some time and concentrated effort. In order to enhance collaboration across the enterprise, some clients create award & assessment programs to transform the culture to a “responsibility to participate” mindset. Eg: some clients have stakeholders and partners connect on a time-imperative basis to fulfill their requirements.
  • Enterprise Architects (EAs) need to be talented communicators — capable of building support for common solutions, justifying architectural decisions and selling the value of enterprise architecture. Using analogies to get your message across to CIO’s and business people can be very effective in engaging them to your efforts. Enterprise Architecture initiatives can seem overwhelming, BiZZdesign’s approach is “Think Big but Start Small” and show value in increments. Just as someone who approaches a large weight loss goal of 100 pounds can’t expect to do it all in one shot. An EA initiative takes some time and a shift in the way things are done on a daily basis.
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