Breaking the glass ceiling for Architects

By | December 8, 2013

With technology top-of-mind in the C-Suite, I can not think of a profession that is growing in importance more quickly than architecture.  By that I mean enterprise and IT architecture.  Architects provide the technology leadership for an enterprise.  Yet, architects too often get stuck together into an “architecture” organization which over time becomes less relevant to the enterprise.  It is as if the important people in the enterprise want to insulate themselves from these architects.  One has to wonder:  Is it because the architecture team is not trusted as the most competent source of technology leadership for the enterprise, or is it because they have failed to prove that they know how to apply their vast knowledge of technology to its benefit?  Whatever it is, it is a problem both for the architects and the enterprise.  Why does this happen and how do we fix it?

I assume that you are an architect and I want to give you an answer that you can act on.  So I am not going to bother you with ideas like “assign every architect to a cross-functional team”.  I want to give you answers that you can act on immediately.

Furthermore, I will give you the benefit of the doubt:  I will assume that you are competent on the areas of business and IT that are most critical to the leaders of the enterprise where you work.

What’s left is communication.  I strongly believe that communication has been a limiting factor for me for most of my career.  I am still working hard to improve my communications skills.  Read on if you think it is also of importance to you.  I will give a hint on two main points and expand on them more in future posts and revisions to this post.  All I want to give you today are the short version of the answers and the source where you can learn more about the answers yourself.

The first point is that every communication needs to be relevant to the reader.  If your reader cares a lot about the “why” of something and you always seem to focus on the “what” then that breaks the first rule of a good communication–providing an answer to a question that is already on their mind.   The second point is to structure your communications so that, once you have the reader’s attention, the reader can easily comprehend your message.

The Pyramid Principle is a book that was recommended to me by a mentor.   As I read it I see that it addresses both of the above points about communication.  There are two versions of the book (both by Barbara Minto) and I honestly do not know which one is better:

I happened upon the latter in a bookstore here in Kuala Lumpur so that is the one I am reading now.

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