Does the ten thousand hour rule apply to Enterprise Architects?

29 June 2017

Do some enterprise architects become masters at their discipline without hours of practice, or does it really take 10,000 hours?
Of course 10,000 hours is a long time. 5 hours per day for 10 years? Its not a fast process, and most people are always looking for short cuts.
Is 10,000 hours the average or the minimum?

Do enterprise architects need some innate talent, or can this discipline be learnt?
How long does that take? What do you need to learn?

“If you can’t explain enterprise architecture to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – as Einstein would have said.

What is Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is the process of understanding the business model, the enterprise vision and both the business and IT strategies and then enabling the effective execution of the resulting change initiatives.

Enterprise architecture does this by modelling the current state of the enterprise and defines a number of enterprise’s future target states, defines the dependencies, identifies the best investment initiatives, identifies the change initiatives and then plans the required business transformations in the future.

Business transformations includes defining holistic models and road maps of the change initiatives, covering all domains from a strategic, business, organisation, information, services, application, technology and infrastructure perspectives. Usually that also includes modelling the market environment (what the competitors are doing) and customers own architectures (customer’s own processes and customer journeys).

The goal of Enterprise Architecture is essentially to successfully manage the process from Strategy to Execution.
Strategy execution is generally an enterprise’s most challenging issue, especially with the current attention on digital or customer focused transformations.

What is an Enterprise Architect?

Too often the enterprise architect role is misinterpreted and misapplied. It is not another name for the IT architect or solution architect roles at a project development level. It is definitely not another name for a solution architect who has achieved a certain level of seniority.
A solution architect can’t call themselves an enterprise architect, without first attaining an expert level of understanding and knowledge of the business as well as of IT.

An Enterprise Architect is a senior management executive leadership role concerned with how an Enterprise works from a business perspective, planning the future of how an enterprise needs to be transformed and changed over time and how it need to operate in its future environment. Inevitably IT is a large part of that change but in itself doesn’t define what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

Becoming a master : Gaining Skills and experience

Ignorance brings chaos and not knowledge, and diligent study and learning is essential.

No matter where you start from, it is necessary to learn from others and apply what you have learnt. Finding the right mentor is important.

Enterprise Architecture is a broad discipline and skills and experience in programming and development will not make you an Enterprise architect.
You have to learn about how a business works in terms of its business strategy and business capabilities, how it delivers value to its customers with its Business Model and its value proposition. You have to understand what Business Capabilities an enterprise has and how those capabilities are realised in the future with a mapping to the staff, organisation structure, business processes, information/data needed (and flowing), enabling applications and the services they provide, as well as the underlying technology and infrastructure. Technology & infrastructure isn’t simply IT by the way, but can includes factories, physical facilities and machinery. Remember the Internet of things includes smart machines, Internet enabled cars, integrated factories etc, not just IT stuff.

What does an enterprise architect needs to know?

  • A clear understanding of what Enterprise Architecture is
  • Abstract thinking
  • Conceptualisation
  • Visualisation
  • Visioning
  • Discussing strategy and planning
  • Modelling the enterprise – to understand anything requires a mental model or an image of it.
  • Modelling the future change options and alternatives
  • Understanding Meta modelling and applying the important concepts
  • Understanding different stakeholders viewpoints
  • Identifying best practises
  • Understanding the enterprise architecture processes
  • Researching new topics
  • Following business and IT trends
  • Assessing opportunities
  • Critically evaluating information gathered from multiple sources
  • Evaluating investments
  • Evaluating future business and IT trends
  • Making recommendations
  • Analysing the architectures
  • Aligning business and IT
  • System thinking
  • Designing
  • Road-mapping and business transformation
  • Making decisions
  • Teaching and mentoring
  • Writing and communicating
  • Persuasion and influencing
  • Managing complexity
  • Managing performance
  • Providing value to the enterprise

Enterprise Architecture thinking and deliverables are often seen as purely to do with software delivery, solutions development, technology selection and specific implementation details. These are aspects of the work that is done, but only a fraction.

Its worth repeating that Enterprise Architecture covers changes to the whole business not only IT related changes.

What should an EA job specification look for?

  • 10 + years of experience of Enterprise Architecture including Business Architecture
  • An understanding between future strategy planning and running current operations and software development
  • Understanding how businesses work
  • An understanding the difference in scope and context between enterprise architecture and solution architecture
  • An understanding of stakeholder engagement, analysis and design.
  • A broad, enterprise-wide view of the enterprise and appreciation of strategy, business capabilities, business processes, services, information, data, enabling applications, technologies and infrastructure.
  • An understanding of governance, risks and compliance
  • A demonstrated ability to recognise structural issues within the enterprise, interdependencies, issues and challenges, influences, motivations
  • The ability to apply enterprise architectural principles to business problems
  • Experience using model-based representations that can be adjusted as required to collect, aggregate or disaggregate complex and multiple views about the enterprise
  • Extensive experience modelling using a variety of tools and techniques
  • Stakeholder analysis experience
  • Experience in establishing an enterprise architecture capability within the organisation.
  • Participating in strategy discussions and planning
  • Understanding evolutions and system dynamics
  • Balancing the requisite variety
  • Guiding the impact of strategy on business capabilities
  • Guiding business transformations
    Open minded and challenging group think

What are the habits of successful Enterprise Architects?

  • Use a business led Enterprise Architecture approach
  • Use business models to understand the business environment
  • Use business capability models to understand outcomes of value and planning of change with heat maps
  • Use strategy maps, Wardley maps and system dynamics models to understand  dependencies and evolution
  • Use information models to understand underlying data, information and knowledge
  • Use appropriate frameworks to apply consistent structure of key deliverables
  • Use appropriate EA tool to accelerate modelling and analysis of investments and options
  • Use appropriate approaches (Agile, Lean, Six Sigma, Iterative) at the right time (one size does not fit all)

Master Enterprise Architect

A master enterprise architect requires a unique blend of skills, which include keen awareness of the business, looking into the future, analysing trends, understanding the evolution of dependencies, dealing with various strategies, managing business transformations and change, dealing with stakeholders, understanding IT architectures.

Working closely with C level executives and senior management, master enterprise architects get into the detail of what makes a businesses successful by getting to the heart of their business strategies, goals and objectives, making better decisions and managing the complexity of strategy execution to enable the enterprise to gain maximum value from their investments in change.

How long does this all take? Roughly 10,000 hours, if not more…
Its worth reading the book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’ by Malcolm Gladwell

 

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