Home > EA > 4.Lesson Learned: Start From Yourself

4.Lesson Learned: Start From Yourself

“They cannot say what they want”, “They don’t [want to] understand…”, “They don’t care…”

Familiar? I am hearing “They” a little bit too often I would say. In my opinion, if you find yourself complaining (too much about executive management, project people or business guys, you should start thinking hard about yourself. If they don’t understand you, it’s your problem, not theirs. If they cannot say what they want, what can you do to help them express their needs in an understandable way? If you think they don’t care, what is it they do care about?

Simply, if “they” could say what they want, you might not be needed at all in the first place. So challenge yourself a bit, think hard what it could be that your customers might need and try to create a draft with some useful information. Approach your customers and humbly learn what they like or dislike about your “offer”. Tune it with them, ask for feedback. Avoid approaching your customers with generic proposition what you “could” do for them and nothing tangible in your hands.

And one more thing, very very important. It’s actually the first think to do before you start your EA endeavour (and perhaps the key message of this lesson): let your ego at home! Thinking that you’re the best, the smartest, the most knowledgable will just stand in your way to success, to gaining respect and trust.

Categories: EA
  1. September 23, 2011 at 3:09 am

    Great post and very good advice. I would add that listening is a key EA skill. There is a reason we have two ears and only one mouth! Thanks, Leo

  2. Steven Zsolnai
    September 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    … are you trying to become the only architect on this planet, by advocating that being an architect implies that you have to grovel for understanding and appreciation. Architects should say controversial things and if management do not accommodate this, then don’t want an architect – but they certainly would need one.
    Of course you need to play this by ear and should come up with answers to managements’ problems which are comprehensive and clear, but it should be the category of answer you very often see: very smooth, slippery stuff which everybody can agree, but doesn’t make a dam bit of difference.

    • September 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm

      Hi Steven!:)

      I definitely do not suggest to grovel – not even remotely – let it be for understanding or anything else. I do suggest to actually employ communication skills (or any other skill in that matter, visualization, persuasion…) to uncover and actively seek the way to express whatever you need to say in the way that will be understood. What I hate and where this post came from is whining about others not understanding/listening/caring and not trying to do anything about it. Because this is what I see as a key role of EA as well (and where all those soft skills should be applied to).

      Also I am faaaaaaaar from suggesting to say just what others want to hear. I didn’t mean to touch that topic in the post. Nevertheless, I can only hardly imagine EA in any non-controversial position. EA is about change. Bottom line. Proposing it or driving it, all the same in this case. And change always causes resistance, it’s going to “hurt” somebody. Many will disagree or actively fight against the change (and I’ve seen pretty nasty fights here;)
      So here one thing is to keep saying nicely abstract things that don’t really change anything and are nicely wide in interpretation, so everybody can agree to without changing anything at all. I do not suggest that, of course. The other thing is taking personal interest and drivers of individuals into consideration and presenting/selling the change the way they are likely to accept. And this is the art.

      I do agree though with is the fact that there are companies which do now WANT to have information, insight and transparency EA can provide (I don’t say they don’t need it, they perhaps need it the most). But that’s a different story, life in such an environment is tedious, frustrating and there just really might not be a “market” for what EA can deliver. And you know very well that we have managed to deliver some really cool value.

      Back to the point of the post. What I dare to judge here is on one hand complaining about “them” instead of trying to find information and the way in which to present the information to the customer. Because if others do not understand, I see the role of EA also in making them understand. (And frankly, you are in fact one of those from whom I learned quite a lot about communication and you also know that I don’t go far for criticism or pointing out problems big time;) On the other hand, I also judge the often seen “macho” style which creates more barriers than it helps to overcome. That’s it.

      And thanks for reading;)

  3. Steven Zsolnai
    September 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Ondrej
    I agree with what you say, of course and you pricisely answered to the intension of my provopcative note. Balancing the two sides in a continuous commonication process is key to the success of an effective Enterprise Architecture management function.
    Another key is to communicate the value proposition and gained benefits.


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