You leave the office and head for the station. As you approach the forecourt there’s a newspaper billboard with the headline “Cure for All Cancers Found”. It seems improbable, but you pick up a copy of the Evening Standard to read all about it. It turns out that new research has been published that offers hope for some cancer patients, but it is likely to be a long time before anything becomes generally available…. But the billboard got you interested – you just had to read all about it!
Well it turns out that some of the billboard headlines for TOGAF are the same: TOGAF is billed as the cure for all enterprise woes, as the silver bullet for IT development, or the one-stop solution for cutting costs and simplifying infrastructures. But when you get a bit more inquisitive it turns out that although it could be the answer everyone’s been looking for, it is actually just one of many new management ideas that require a lot of effort if they are to be successful.
The point is – how can we get relevant decision makers and corporate investors to read all about TOGAF in the first place, get excited enough to commit resources to establish an EA programme, but remain realistic about the genuine benefits and value of TOGAF? In other words – how can we get support for EA as an approach without going too far by over-promising or confusing our audience?
Right there is a growing support for EA in general and TOGAF in particular. This is evident in the number of people seeking TOGAF certification, in the number of advertised job roles asking for architectural experience, and in the number of articles appearing about TOGAF. So there are plenty of billboards on display, extolling the virtues of TOGAF. (OK – there are also some that say TOGAF is useless and a waste of time, but in this blog I want to focus on the problem of raising expectation too high).
Here are five tips for promoting the benefits and value of using TOGAF without overdoing it:
- Top of the list is to Speak Their Language. Too often budding enterprise architects get all enthusiastic and explain everything that they plan to do in EA jargon that only makes partial sense to anyone else. Think about what you want you are offering – about what you can achieve – and then describe it in the language of your stakeholders. So the target architecture might be a wonderful fully integrated multi-channel customer interface that brings all of the latest social technologies together… but for a business manager you are making it easier for the customer to engage with your company by phone, through the Internet, or at a branch. And for the senior executive you are helping to increase market share.
- The next point is to Explain the Process. Don’t assume that anyone listening to you will know how you are going to go about transforming the architecture. Explain that what you are going to do is business driven – it doesn’t just start and end with IT. Tell people how long it will take for the first iteration of ADM, and how many iterations it is likely to take to make a significant change (i.e. much longer than anyone might expect). And then make sure to tell them that each iteration will take them a step further, and that each step has some value or benefit. Oh, and then you will need to make sure that when you follow the process you actually deliver those benefits!
- Use Metrics. It is amazing how often architects tell their audience that they are going to do something fantastic, without thinking about how they can prove it! You need to think about it – you need to figure out how you can measure the change you are making. If it was the cure for cancer, how is that measured? If it is cutting costs, then measure costs. Improving capabilities is a bit harder to measure, but work with business people who need the capability and find out what metrics they use. And if they don’t currently have any, work with them to create a meaningful measure. Everyone will benefit if you can prove that things are getting better. I know of many EA teams that are seen as more effective once they introduced good metrics.
- The next step is to listen – to Monitor Feedback. Keep your ears and eyes open. Is there anyone who is spreading negative thoughts about the good work you are doing? Any pessimistic, unconstructive or harmful comments need to be addressed at an early stage before they become entrenched. Again, think about your key message – you want people to read all about it and become believers or supporters; what you don’t want are detractors and enemies. Too many EA projects attract bad press, and ultimately this can become the downfall of a TOGAF initiative.
- The final point is possibly the most important – Manage Previous Experiences! What I mean by that is that you are not the first person to come along and try to make things better. You need to know what has happened in the past. Have there been previous EA programmes? How did they fare? What do people think about the current change process? The experiences of the past have a big influence on how well your message comes across.
Having read these five tips, what does your billboard say? How can you rewrite your key message in a way that allows you to apply the five tips? I guarantee that if you put these five tips into practice your stakeholders will not only Read All About the benefits and value of TOGAF, they will also become active believers and supporters!