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Why Execs Under-Appreciate Architecture — and 3 Steps That Will Flip That Upside Down
Your leadership team is in a tough spot. I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for them — as a business or enterprise architect, you have your own challenges to handle. But here’s the kicker: your challenges and their challenges are deeply intertwined — and solving your challenges may be part of the solution to theirs.
Let me explain.
Enterprise leadership teams are facing an unprecedented onslaught of change. The market is shifting beneath their feet, customer expectations are changing daily, and there is an unrelenting need to “go digital” (even if they don’t fully understand what that means).
Yet amid all that change, they are still expected to keep costs under control and meet traditional performance expectations — even while all that change is increasing operational complexity and reinforcing silos. Doesn’t sound like much fun, right?
This pressure is why it’s easy for them to ignore the vital work you do and why, if you come to them talking about the need to “invest in architecture,” it will fall on deaf ears. They are just too consumed with dealing with this onslaught of challenges to pay attention to what sounds to them like overhead. But what they don’t understand is that those investments in architecture that you’re asking for may very well be the answer (at least in part) to their challenges. So, it’s your job to help them understand that. And I’m going to help you do it.
The Business Challenges Distracting Your Leadership Team
Before we can get to the bit you care about — how to make your leadership team appreciate what you do — we need to start with their favorite subject: themselves!
I know that sounds a bit cheeky, but it’s not a slight. It’s just human nature: we’re all most concerned with our own situation and challenges, especially when things get turned upside down. And for enterprise leaders, the last decade or so has basically been a constant churn.
The playbook that they used to drive their day-to-day decisions has been thrown out the window, and they are now faced with a steady stream of novel challenges — situations that did not exist just a few short years ago. The consumerization of technology has changed customer expectations — and they remain in a continuous state of change no matter what your organization sells or to whom. The fact is that we’re all consumers, and it’s impossible for us not to bring the expectations set by consumer tech companies to every interaction we have.
This experiential shift is what is also increasing the pressure around all things digital. The problem is that it ends up creating this sinking feeling that they should be “doing more,” but they don’t necessarily know what that should look like. This ambiguity, as you might expect, leads to a lot of thrashing and flailing. The irony is that all the gnashing of teeth that these changes create obscures their real need: visibility, adaptability, and executional confidence.
And that’s where you come in. If you can present architecture in the right light and in the right way, it will become apparent to them that it is precisely what will provide them this powerful triumvirate — and you won’t have to sell it at all.