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So we’ve talked about where Enterprise Architecture (EA) reports to in the organization, how EA should be structured and what EA team members’ reporting lines could be. Let’s now talk about what makes a good Enterprise Architect that can fill the light colored boxes below.

The answer is simple. Hire a bunch of unicorns. Good luck with that so let's be realistic.

Two skills are a must for every EA:

  1. Have broad AND deep process and/or technical knowledge for their domain By deep I’m not getting into the nitty gritty of what a product architect might know about a specific application or technology but the EA needs to have a good feel what typical capabilities are in their domain. This is needed both for the EA to do quality work and for the EA to have the needed credibility with the people he/she is working with and influencing.

  2. Be fact based It is hard to argue against facts which is why EA needs to be fact based. This means the EA needs to be open minded and able to constantly learn. No-one knows all the facts about everything. The EA needs to be inquisitive to get all the important facts on the table continuously building up their database of knowledge.

You’ll read all kinds of articles by smart people and organizations that the soft skills (communication, influencing, …) are just as or even more important. Hogwash! It is true that these are important skills but without the two above you’ll get nowhere.

I do agree that business/financial acumen and soft skills are very important. If you require all these to be present in your EA team member you are basically hunting for unicorns. You need to leverage the power of the team for all the other important skills. if your Data Warehousing EA is an absolute technical wizard but sucks at the soft stuff or can’t develop business cases then partner them up with your Manufacturing EA if he/she is really good at that. For cross-functional, complex transformations your EA team is involved in you will need multiple EAs. Partner them up to not only cover the technical skills but also to cover the soft or business skills.

Oh, and by the way unicorns exists. I’ve encountered a couple in my career. They just happen to be very rare.

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