Why Does an Architect need this Skill?
Enterprise architecture is defined as
Enterprise architecture (EA) is “a well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, using a holistic approach at all times, for the successful development and execution of strategy. Enterprise architecture applies architecture principles and practices to guide organizations through the business, information, process, and technology changes necessary to execute their strategies. These practices utilize the various aspects of an enterprise to identify, motivate, and achieve these changes.”
Organizational changes, especially those that change the dynamics of the workplace can have unpredictable outcome. People and processes evolve in diverse ways as they undergo a change. No two individuals will respond in exactly the same way to workplace changes.
As defined above architects are key change agents, and are often critical to the success of organisational changes, working closely with all stakeholders (internal and external) to produce current state architectures, transition state, and a ‘To-Be’ architectures. Most enterprise architecture framework consider change management as a core competency of architects
Enterprise architects pool their domain knowledge with other skills such as leadership, persuasion, negotiation, communication and the ability to ‘Sell’ the value of particular option(s) to sponsors and key stakeholder so that their ‘shared’ vision can be realized.
Common tasks involved in this Skill.
The architect will be involved in multiple facets of leading a change within an organization. Most critical part is for the architect to think of change in a holistic manner and apply standard change framework to the existing change.
- Understand the scope of change, is it purely technical in nature or does it involve organizational structure change. In both cases there is an impact to people and culture, clearly define current state and final state. If the change is large or pervasive in nature the architect/strategist should also define a transit state.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate, throughout the change and keep the stakeholders well informed. Keep in mind communication is a fine art and few PowerPoint presentations might not deliver the message, so quality and consistency is crucial. This skill set is especially critical in changes that involve organizational wide change where fear and insecurity are heightened. Effective communication will create stakeholder buy-in and will lead to a shared vision. Keep in mind communication is bi-directional so solicit honest feedback. Lack of proper communication could lead to rational resistance which can further fuel irrational resistance to change.
- Be a change agent, lead and embrace the change rather than just delegating or defining the change. Create excitement around the change and engage people throughout the process, involvement breeds commitment. The architect should be viewed as the individual that champions the change.
- Facilitate the creation of the change team. Ensure that the change has executive level sponsorship, this will ensure proper level of visibility and support to lead collaborative change effort. The executive sponsor should assist in, mobilizing commitment from other executive level peers, creating or embracing the vision for the change and ensuring that it will align with the overall corporate strategy. Identifying sponsor is paramount to the success of the overall project. Other members of the team should include, subject matter experts (SME’s), functional, internal and external stakeholders.
- Evangelize and celebrate small wins it is on the critical path to the ultimate goal. Small wins, although might not be significant when compared to the big picture, however it will create the inertia that is needed to achieve the next big win. It is simple laws of physics objects in motion tend to stay in motion. As you accumulate more wins and consolidates your gains you will achieve a critical mass that will accelerate your path to the end state.
- Track post change progress, ensure measurement is linked to the strategic plan and don’t collect data just for the sake of collecting metrics. Ensure indicators have significance for the appropriate level, for example an executive sponsor might require more high level data than a line manager.
- Lessons learned, incorporate learning from current change, process should include the change team and the architect should facilitate and engorge open dialogue. The team should discuss how they can capitalize on what they did well, but it is also important to discuss area of improvement. The result of this exercise should be shared beyond the core team to assist others who might be embarking in similar initiatives. When conducting lesson learned establish ground rules that encourage candor and openness without making it personal. The trick is to keep the discussion focused around the challenges and emphasize on the solution rather than on the issue.
The first three tasks above are about creating a suitable environment for change, the next two steps are about engaging the whole organization in the process of change, and the final two steps is about tracking your change
What is their Ownership in this skill?
The architect(s) will lead the architectural aspect of the change, as well as guiding the change team in driving the change parameters. In larger organizations there might be multiple architects (as part of the enterprise architecture group) with different areas of expertise involved in this exercise. You might have infrastructure architecture addressing the core infrastructure solution and business architecture defining processes for the business needs to reach its goals. In smaller or even medium organizations the architect assigned to the project will perform all the aforementioned tasks
How is this skill used by the architect in daily activities?
The Architect would be expected to be able to:
- Understand what constitute a change to the organization and have ability to translate that to an actionable plan.
- Map current IT landscape, and planned future state and manage the transition from current architecture to target architecture.
- Apply architectural framework and governance to proposed change.
- Understand change impact on current IT framework and processes.
- If the change has an impact on the operating model of the organization, then architect needs to understand the organizational requirements as well as any governance and/or legal requirements and impact.
- Communicate the message on regular basis, do not assume others understand or agree on the need for change. Your message should be motivational as wells as practical in nature.
- Ability to translate change to technical design or process design.
- Ability to manage processes and people throughout change.