I’m a collaborative person, and most of the time, I’m quite content to make sure that other folks get the credit for little victories that I participate in, especially when that improves my relationship with them.

However, every now and then, it is important to claim credit for a success, especially if I can leverage it into “making my manager look good.” 

Enterprise Architecture walks a tight rope.  We are seen as obstructionist and difficult by some, ineffective and pointless by others.  The key is to stay close to the middle: involved, valuable, empowering.  To be seen there, it is important… nay, critical… that big successes that Enterprise Architecture really did have an effect on are visible to senior staff and the CIO. 

That’s a challenge, because our culture is odd this way.  In the Microsoft culture, a failure is always one person’s fault, but a success is shared by all.  I don’t know if this is intentional, but in an environment filled with competitive, intelligent, shrewd business people, it is somewhat inevitable.  That makes it hard to hit that ‘balanced success’ point without looking like you are trying to steal someone else’s good press.

The answer is to say “we did this together… and this was OUR ROLE, and it was important.”  You can’t make one of the other folks look bad in that, because you need them to keep working with you, even if they fought against you every step of the way.  So success is still shared, but the role of the organization is recognized.

And valued.

EA needs all the positive press it can get.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

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