What makes a good Enterprise Architect?
Extracts of Comments By Roderick Lim Banda on Online Forum
LinkedIn Group Discussion - The Enterprise Architecture Network

This discussion thread was started by Mike Rowland. Below is a summary which I tried to do of the contributions after 4 pages. At the time of posting this page it was 18 pages and had 350 comments.

  • 1. A good EA is part scientist, part artist, part diplomat and all business.
  • 2. A good EA is a professional, a visionary leader, knowledge worker - knowing the business and the technology, possesse soft skills to converge ideas, analytical and problem solver, inspires/motivates others, are internal experts, has external network and personal advisors.
  • 3. A good EA must deal with the complexity of an enterprise and all its parts without losing sight of the whole.
  • 4. A good EA can produce business value in an agile manner by focusing on the picture of the whole of the enterprise, enough detail at a time and evolving the detail over time.
  • 5. A good EA is not a designated management position but is an influencial leadership role. To be effective, EAs must therefore influence change in a positive way, hence the art of diplomacy and people skills are the most important qualities for success.
  • 6. A good EA aligns the two separate disciplines of business architecture and technology architecture, in a systemic way to help an organization achieve its drivers which include the strategic objectives (revenue generation and cost control) and values.
  • 7. A good EA is able to map the strategic or high level picture and plan to its operational implementation.
  • 8. A good EA must have the ability to think and work towards making effective decisions and trade-offs for the enterprise and must therefore be able to abstract, think holistically, have a sense of future states, be strategic and tactical.
  • 9. A good EA possesses a balance of personal qualities to be unbiased or agnostic, pragmatic, enthusiastic, articulate, persistent, enduring, open, altruistic, accountable, honest and trustworthy.
  • 10. A good EA must excel under difficult circumstances and must therefore be able to cope with the pressures: be a natural leader; be able to work and collaborate with others and in teams; have a high tolerance for ambiguity; rapidly and continuously learn; be an extraordinary communicator; have great work habits and ethics; have courage but not blind conviction; and be passionate about and for the business.
  • 11. A good EA understands and can support the financial drivers of a profit driven business and the value of intangible assets which include human, organisational, information and intellectual capital of the enterprise.
  • 12. A good EA has the capability, understanding and skills of related disciplines such as project management, change management, service management, infrastructure and operations.
  • 13. A good EA has a wide range of experience in and across business and technology domains, including a broad cross-section of the external business environment, internal organization, business processes, operations, enterprise systems and applications, software development and technology solutions.
  • 14. A good EA must provide views of elements within the enterprise and their inter-dependencies and associations and have the ability to abstract complex views onto a single context or page.
  • 15. A good EA is able to facilitate, communicate and model views towards different stakeholder perspective, especially towards gaining the support and understanding of executive leadership, management, product owners and implemention teams.
  • 16. A good EA must have an understanding of what constitutes good architecture as a whole and architectural thinking which includes function, aesthetics and structure.
  • 17. A good EA must understand the enterprise strategic plan and the top-down and bottom-up changes that affect this, ensuring that these changes are documented and planned.
  • 18. A good EA must be able to forecast the state of systems which encompass the complex and adaptive nature of an enterprise and its current, changing and future states.
  • 19. A good EA must not be IT-driven but rather drive technology towards achieving business value.
  • 20. A good EA does not need to conform to a specific framework.
  • 21. A good EA as a structure could be a group rather than a single chief architect role within an organization.

The enterprise model is shifting globally from a purely profit driven approach to one that is much like the social enterprise model or triple bottom line approach where profit, social responsibility and the environment are key considerations for longer term sustainability.

It is true that in developed countries, the model is difficult to grasp from a pure financial modelling perspective. However, the increasing state of legislative compliance already creates a driver through governance that acts to force a triple bottom line approach so in reality, enterprises are already being forced to adopt a triple bottom line model. It may take some time before they adopt the spirit of social enterprise but I don't think there is much choice.

This is creating new opportunities for EAs who are able to leverage the so-called intangibles - organizational, human, information capital in an enterprise. This is exactly what we are trained to do. If we can measure ourselves in business performance terms and make ourselves accountable for reporting on the enterprise ability to meet strategic objectives, I think the EA program will be a more strategic and explicit endeavour with executive support.