Cognitive Dissonance

11 November 2013

I was reading this today:

http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/ea-matters/is-there-an-enterprise-architect-paradox-surely-is-57728?rss=1

It is a good analysis of the cognitive dissonance between what Enterprise Architects should be doing and the role and situation they often actually find themselves in. The term Enterprise Architect has been hijacked for far too long.
An Enterprise Architect should indeed be a senior leadership role, ideally reporting to the CEO.
 
The trouble I’ve often seen is that mid level executives often think that because they have been promoted into that role that their job title automatically gives them the skills and experience of a real enterprise architect.
 
News Flash: It doesn’t!
 
They do have the skills to set business strategy and provide direction of course (This is a Viable System Model System 5 role). But are they capable of plotting the effect on the enterprise architecture and planning an Business transformation roadmap? Often not so much. They understand the market realities and their customers. The Roadmappping and Busienss Transformation is more the domain of expertise of the enterprise architect (This is a Viabale system Model System 4 role).
 
Subsequently the mid level executives tend to think that real Enterprise Architects who engage with them are somehow after their job (instead of being there to help them) and spend their political capital to push them back to IT where they think they belong.
 
News Flash: Enterprise Architects don’t belong in IT!
 
There should be a Chief Enterprise Architecture Officer with a EA Management Office (or better still called the Office of the CEO) to support them, in the same way that a PMO supports Programme Managers. 
 
My advice is to educate the employers and teach them what an Enterprise Architect really does, and not let them employ other skills and erroneously call them Enterprise Achitects.
 
Its time Enterprise Architecture was taught properly in University MBA courses to the next generation of business leaders. Maybe then the cognitive dissonance will be avoided.
 
 
 
 
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3 Responses to “Cognitive Dissonance”

  1. Tom Graves Says:

    Great post! The only place I’d disagree with you is that I’d suggest you’re being overly-charitable to those executives: they may _think_ they’re enacting a system-5 role, but in practice it’s probable they’re not doing much more than a mid-tier system-3… for example, the too-common pseudo-’strategy’ of ‘last-year +10%’ is classic system-3 masquerading as system-5.

    Enterprise-architecture has a significant outward-looking system-4 role: for example, that’s explicitly a key function of the TOGAF-ADM’s Phase-H. But because often _no-one_ in business-organisations is actually doing system-5 either properly or at all, EA may well need to play a key role there too.


  2. Thank you for this post Adrian. Completely agree. With the ever increasing complexity, (perceived) emergency and competition, leaders just can’t realise where they risk to bring their company in with their decisions. The EA fixes that and much more. But EA keeps a red blinking sticker on his forehead saying “Don’t trust me, I’m IT”. simply because it was born in IT. Being taught in MBA would be a good way to get rid of the sticker. And you could introduce the matter with this article: http://blogs.hbr.org/2009/10/scientists-and-engineers-on-bo/.
    Be well! And a happy new year to you and to your dear ones.


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