We sometimes get the question from customers: what kind of skills should they look for in the people they want to add to their EA team?
My answer is that an EA team should consist of people of varied competencies, but at the core, you need skills along the lines of those that a journalist has.
A journalist doesn’t necessarily have to be a good writer (although it helps) – a journalist is someone who uncovers and documents the truth.
Enterprise Architect as Journalist
Here are some features of the enterprise architect as journalist:
1. It is a person with good people skills, who can pick people’s brains without causing them consternation or stress.
2. The journalist is a communicator who can express the value of EA to stakeholders -- not that it is an ivory-tower, anal-retentive exercise, and also to alleviate the fears of people in an organization who think EA or more specifically, business process analysis (BPA), is something that the company is doing to promote efficiencies and lay people off.
In the nineties an acronymn 'BPR' became dreaded in the workplace. It stood for Business Process Reorganization. Just that word ‘reorganization’ was one that struck fear into most of the workplace. I worked in a large systems organization at the time, and we all hated those ‘BPR’ people. They were going to come talk to us, without knowing or caring about how we built great systems that we sold to our customers, and change things. They were bean counters who were going to nit pick and find ways to figure out who they could lay off. The acronym was doomed from the start.
What needed to be communicated was that making the organization more efficient shouldn’t mean layoffs – it should mean making the organization stronger, having everyone more knowledgeable of how to get things done, building better products faster, etc.
As Scott Ambler said in an original comment to this blog post when it was on EABlue.com -- "Good EA's have great “soft” skills. They work closely with the stakeholders of their work, communicating their vision, listening to their stakeholders, and evolving their vision over time."
3. It is someone who can get answers to the questions who, what, where, when, how, and why. The answers can come from picking people’s brains, and using state-of-the-art tools to interrogate existing systems and sources of record– something we at IBM have termed ‘harvesting’ the enterprise architecture. To harvest information, some technical skills may come to the fore, but that’s not necessarily the journalist’s job – thus the reason why you need people of some diverse skills on your EA team.
4. It is a person who will not accept one answer as the answer. Often times it means talking to people in several departments, with several views of what’s going on, to uncover the real truth. This is also where tool automation comes in -- the EA tool, harvesting from several sources of record -- enables the Enterprise Architect to run reports to find redundancies, discrepancies, and gaps.
There are probably more skills of the journalist as enterprise architect – you can feed back more qualities if you think of some. You might also suggest who, in the back of your mind, you fancy yourself as, as you go about your daily job – Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein, Lou Grant, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen – it may depend on what organization you’re working in and how many hurdles you have to leap.