The architect as chief technology negotiator

Enterprise architects are often frustrated people because they frequently face disagreements. Research indicates that the best enterprise architects are successful negotiators. The good news is that this critical skill can be readily learned and developed.

META Trend: In 2004/05, IT organizations (ITOs) will continue to refine their infrastructure planning processes while linking them more explicitly with other IT constituencies: application development, project management, operations, and architecture. Gradually (2004-09), project delivery will become more integrated; different groups will work with standardized deliverables, while further integrating with operations service request management, change management, and other activities. As this refinement takes place, more ITOs will establish center-of-excellence or organizational groupings to distinguish the infrastructure planning discipline (particularly per-project design) and the infrastructure planner role as separate from, yet related to, architecture and engineering.It is human to resist change, especially when a proposed change was not self-conceived.Text The enterprise architecture (EA) process is inherently about driving strategic change in organizations. It is human to resist change, especially when a proposed change was not self-conceived. Most organizations suffer from the “not invented here” syndrome to some degree. As change agents, enterprise architects often find themselves in situations of disagreement or outright conflict, at times with a substantial emotional component. The success of individual architects and the EA program is in large measure determined by how effective these situations are handled in a manner that yields the best decisions for the enterprise while preserving and even enhancing co-worker relationships. Like it or not, everyone is a negotiator. However, enterprise architects, in the course of their work as facilitators of the EA process, frequently have the opportunity to serve as a negotiator in unique situations. EA negotiators help people reach wise agreements about the use of technology that will best serve the enterprise. These agreements are win-win solutions that drive progress.

The implications are simple. If an architect is a poor negotiator, he or she will be an ineffective architect. Conversely, the individual, all others with a stake in an issue, and the enterprise will benefit from the good work of architects who negotiate successful agreements. Currently, negotiation proficiency among enterprise architects is largely lacking. By 2008, we expect training in skilled negotiation to be on the shortlist of personal development priorities in 70% of organizations with an EA program.

When should an architect Apply negotiation skills?

It is easy and tempting for architects to take a side on an issue and get caught up in a spirited debate. Although forming an opinion on an issue is virtually unavoidable as a human being, architects can and must be careful about choosing when and how to voice that opinion, balancing it against the recognized opportunity to serve as negotiator of an agreement.

Architects must be aware of several common situations throughout the EA process that present negotiation opportunities and be willing to lead by serving in this important role:

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