EA Maturity Sounds Nice . . . Now How Do We Get It Done?

We sure do talk a lot about enterprise architecture (EA) maturity. When I think about it, every piece of research we create is in some way intended to help EA leaders mature their practice. But alas, reading alone isn’t what matures an EA practice. Somebody, somewhere (likely, you) has the difficult task of implementing these EA concepts as processes, artifacts, methodologies, etc. And there arises the challenge: Simply building a “new thing” such as a business capability map or a set of reference architectures isn’t where maturity comes from. Rather, it’s about getting these “new things” out there, seeing them used, making sure they’re relevant, and realizing an impact.

For the many EA practices that want to evolve their practices toward a strategy- and business-driven role, actually getting that done means going outside of EA’s current scope. In order to execute on this vision, EA must consider three competencies to see them through their maturity journey, all of which are fraught with boundaries:

  1. Insight. EA professionals need to be able to show that they have an understanding of their firm’s direction and their stakeholder’s strategies for navigating toward it. EA practices therefore need some procedure for gaining this insight — especially since most firms don’t articulate it well. But how can EA — which may historically be tactical and technology driven — get involved?
  2. Influence. EA must now reach out to new stakeholders and use this newfound insight to influence their decisions. The challenge for many EA practices is to avoid blindsiding or overwhelming their stakeholders, as opposed to making their decisions easier. So what is the right way to approach new stakeholders and position your insight?
  3. Technique. EA will have to build artifacts, methodologies, or processes that capture insight, convince stakeholders, and manage results. But what’s the right way to manage their complexity and introduce them to wary stakeholders?

We hear that executing on three areas well is the key to ensuring that EA’s capability developments have a lasting and well-received impact. What do you think? How did you articulate strategy when it was unclear, influence a new stakeholder, or implement a new EA technique that went outside the bounds of EA’s perceived role? Let’s start the conversation here, and continue it as Alex Cullen and I present an interactive super-session on the topic at the 2012 CIO/EA Forum in Las Vegas on May 3 and 4, and in Paris on June 19 and 20.