Building on “The Right Stuff”

I just read Chris Lockhart’s interesting post “The Right Stuff“.  In the post Chris wrote about his bias for selecting enterprise architects based on his career experience.  The main topics in the post are:

  • natural selection of IT architects
  • the big picture guy
  • the value of a liberal arts education
  • experiencing the business

Chris wrote about his strong belief that his liberal arts education was a significant influence on being an enterprise architect.  Here are some great quotes:

On the natural selection of IT architects:

I find it bewildering how, in a field that relies on human interaction, we don’t place more emphasis on people skills.

Architects who cannot effectively interact with other human beings are destined to be out-performed by other, more adaptable species.

There is always a challenge when we take deep technical people who are not communicators and put them into senior roles like an enterprise architect.  I wrote a post on “Enterprise Architects – What attributes do you look for?”  I wrote that ” Talent is significantly more important than Skills.  Skills can be taught, talent is something a person brings with them.  Communication skills are particularly difficult to find and cultivate in combination with IT experience.  In our IT department of 100 people, we struggle to find people who can be Strategic Practitioners.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against smart people. I’m against smart people who take refuge in detail. They don’t make good architects in my experience.

Beware the Enterprise Architect who is better at writing code than your developers.

Chris is bang on here.  Being able to abstract (conceptualize) is a critical talent. When we look for a Strategic Practitioner, here are the talents that we hope to find:

  • conceptualization – explaining complex ideas
  • enterprise perspective – big picture thinking
  • innovation – willing to try and fail
  • facilitation – consensus building
  • leadership – creating a vision and guiding people
  • communication – listening as well as presenting

In Feb 2008, I wrote another post “Being a Teacher works for me …“.  This post has similar themes to Chris’s post and my Strategic Practitioner post.  Using Myers-Briggs indicators can help identify architects in your organization.

Thanks for the post Chris. I will be checking in on your blog regularly.