Fascinating, sometimes, what happens when managers assign job titles. Today, I ran across a fellow, whom I will call Shawn, who works at Microsoft, and carries the title of Enterprise Architect. Now, it is possible that Shawn has, in the past, had a job similar to that of an Enterprise Architect. However, this person works deep in the heart of the software development team within Microsoft IT… in other words, even if he knows what an EA does… even if he wants to do the job… it is completely impossible for him to successfully perform the function of Enterprise Architecture given his position and location within the organization.
So, each time he introduces himself, and works to solve software issues, he creates an impression that Enterprise Architecture is somehow a function of software development. And that hurts. But it is not just him. I’ve seen many folks with the job title of EA who, when they speak, or work, or post messages on online boards, are clearly not among the ranks of Enterprise Architecture.
And that got me to thinking… how much does the “brand” of Enterprise Architecture suffer when this mistake happens over and over? In other words, how much does our profession suffer when people who are not positioned or supported to effectively act as an Enterprise Architect, or worse, have no idea what it means to actually perform the function of EA, carry around a job title of Enterprise Architect?
As many of you know, I’m not just an EA at Microsoft. In addition, I’m the operations manager for my wife’s business. In her small business, brand matters. We are careful about when and where we use the brand, how it is used, and what it represents. Brand is the “hook” upon which her business is defined in the minds of her clients and potential clients. It represents her value proposition. Brand matters, and we defend it.
But tonight, I am helpless to defend the brand of “Enterprise Architect.”
So I call upon the community to consider this: how can we effectively do the job of an Enterprise Architect, working with business managers, process planners, information architects, program managers, and techno-geeks, in a broad overarching role, depending on the good will, understanding, and contribution of so many others, if we cannot manage our own brand: our job title?
Add to that: on LinkedIn, there’s been a thread running for many weeks that started out as a simple challenge: describe the purpose of Enterprise Architecture in a 160 character SMS message. I’m sorry to say that there’s over 300 entries, no two alike. How can we defend our brand, and improve the penetration of Enterprise Architecture into organizations that would truly benefit from our presence, if we can’t even define the brand in a consistent and consumable manner?
Tonight, I’m venting. I’m offering up frustration, but no answers. For that, gentle reader, I beg your pardon.
We are not much more than a loose band of feral housecats, beholden to no leaders. We are fighting against ourselves, among ourselves. Working against each other instead of working together to build the brand of Enterprise Architecture. We exhibit the things we most deride in our business partners: lack of coordination, lack of leadership, and lack of vision.
And as a result, we are unable to control our own brand. Sad.