Saturday, June 29, 2013

EA as Communication Glue

Abstraction and agreement is the way forward, not elaboration and disagreement.

Enterprise Architecture may be a skill in documenting what others know but the EA must learn where the architecture can help improve weaknesses and take advantage of organizational strengths. The methods and techniques used to document and manage the architecture are important but building understanding and communicating among the many functions becomes the most significant contribution for an EA. To put simply, instead of being a guru, EA needs to become a communication glue,  to bridge the silo and mind the difference.

  1. EA#1 value - communication through coordination, and the resultant change. If the scope and content of business initiatives change as a result of EA's intervention in bringing coordinated efforts, aligned with strategy, then there should be immediate value. 
  1. EA can become one of the communication tools at the senior leadership team, to keep every party on the same page. Or, while the 'C' level may act on recommendations coming from an architecture initiative, they don't really use the architecture itself. The recommendations could just have easily come from some other processes.  
  1. The Enterprise Architecture is used to make strategic decisions for driving the future of the company. The data provided in the architecture provides guidance/direction on what steps need to be taken by the board to reach their strategic goals for the company. EA would result in decreased diversity of projects, or at least projects that focus on satisfying business initiatives linked to strategy 
  1. This architectural description may contain multiple views in order to convey the key concepts: It typically requires a good bit of accompanying text to describe the key concepts and processes to teams responsible for implementation. Maybe one of the underlying values of architecture is just having the holistic view available... and then be able to shape strategy; to get the most profit out of the way. USE the architecture to figure out the best way to make the right choices 
  1. In order to communicate better, what one would concentrate to communicate FIRST or MOST. Communicate FIRST- the EA implementation plan to the executive sponsor and other stakeholders in order to gain buy-in and support. These pre-documentation activities are important to ensure that the EA program has clear goals, remains focused, and is accepted throughout the enterprise. Communication MOST – EA practices require a holistic viewpoint and cross-functional support. The architecture also helps to communicate what needs to be done down the line to the various functional domain managers responsible for implementing those steps coming from the board. 
  1. EA Communication Theme: Abstraction and agreement is the way forward, not elaboration and disagreement. Agreements must be first obtained for context and problem definition. Then one may look for the right level of abstraction, the one that sets apart the relevant features and clarify the options at hand. Finally, everyone may agree or disagree with. Abstract means, take the thing under discussion to a higher level of abstraction (by Omission, Composition, Generalization or Idealization). Abstraction enables agreement, and empathic elaboration will further enforce the agreement.  
  1. Respect is the basis for any effective two-way communication. Respect does not require an arbiter - it requires a different mindset and different behavior. If I am respectful of your contributions, it is to recognize the value that they offer, to genuinely attempt to adjust my own position or mental models to incorporate and reflect the additional value or insight you are offering, Respect will seek to avoid argument, respect will take on a mode of listening and reflective-ness, seeking to express the new or modified way that might reflect the insights of the various contributions. It adopts more of a win/win rather than lose/lose or adversarial position,  and to move to a position which might work for more people rather than less people, whilst at the same time not losing the core value and integrity that might have attached to the base proposal. RESPECT means
         E: Effort
         S: Sense
         P: Polite
         E: Execution
        C: Communication
        T: Trustworthy


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