Help – there’s an architect in the boardroom!

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Not trying to be facetious, but apparently this is a typical reaction by most board members when confronted with certain members of this species. The title of Enterprise Architect (EA) may conjure up a vision of uber-geekdom & rarefied techno-speak, which can only get in the way of communicating with regular business folk (who are […]

Not trying to be facetious, but apparently this is a typical reaction by most board members when confronted with certain members of this species. The title of Enterprise Architect (EA) may conjure up a vision of uber-geekdom & rarefied techno-speak, which can only get in the way of communicating with regular business folk (who are dependent on technology to run their businesses efficiently). Therefore, it has become imperative to break down these barriers / perception, at the highest levels, and the good people at Capgemini’s University have designed just such a course to address this particular issue.

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The excellent Boardroom Enterprise Architecture course, (which I was fortunate to attend last week), does exactly what it says on the tin. It focuses on the key responsibility of an enterprise architect to communicate effectively with all stakeholders, especially those that operate in the boardroom. The following are some key messages / highlights from the course:
Found in Translation – We explored the role and value of enterprise architecture as a means for articulating the relationship between business and technology (especially as the gap between the two is now almost non-existent). The key is in communicating with the board in a language they can understand (i.e. not “architectese”)
Real World Perspective – A visit by Capgemini board member, Pierre Hessler, provided valuable insight into the various personalities, and agendas, of the individuals that might be found in a typical boardroom, e.g.:

  • They are often extremely goal-oriented, with above average intelligence, and not very easily convinced – (therefore must have robust / evidence-backed reasons to engage successfully with them)
  • They can be somewhat egocentric, and usually gifted with highly developed survival instincts / awareness – (it may be beneficial to align key messages to relevant areas of interest / immediacy
  • They tend to have a full plate and not really interested in taking on more stuff – (simplicity is key)

Techno-Transformation Leadership (even in uncertain times) – Also discussed the position of TechnoVision as a business transformation context for architecture, which opens up the possibility of translating the output from powerful tools like the TechnoVision Matrix into directly actionable business outcomes, based on the robust models and principles of Enterprise Architecture. This would provide the discipline, traceability and flexibility inherent in any well architected solution or system.
To conclude, I thought this was a timely and well facilitated introduction to the future of Enterprise Architecture, as an upstream enabler of real business transformation, and it certainly deserves the positive feedback from all attendees (see example here). Hopefully, as a result, this architect may soon be playing in a boardroom near you!

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