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I am reporting from the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit in London themed "Emergent Architecture - New Game, New Rules". This Enterprise Architecture (EA) Summit does not only give an update on the latest trends in EA, but it is supposed to challenge the participants to change some of their most basic premises and operating models.

<!--more--> Well, Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) itself hasn't been reinvented there but as it is changing from a former technical-oriented discipline to a more business-oriented inter-department management task, the working environment for enterprise architects is changing. Furthermore, EAM is getting more and more a strategic goal for companies, because of the need to align their business processes with the underlying and supporting IT resources.

That's a great chance for enterprise architects to get a higher acknowledgement within an organization and to get their prayers answered by company managers which could lead to faster decisions for EA projects. But this chance also implies a challenge named "Communication". Analysts from Gartner Research detected that about 30% of EA program efforts are spent on communication. Very often EA projects strand not only because of a lack of communication but much more because of miscommunication. IT responsible persons do often talk to business people in the same way as they talk to technicians. Let me stress the overstrained claim of "Business and IT need to talk in a common language".

That's exactly the point Brian Burke, Gartner Research Vice President, picked up in his speech about "Communicating the Value of EA". He stated 10 crucial factors for a successful communication of EA project values.

  1. Define your objectives - Clearly define what you really need/want (Sponsorship, support, resources, behavioral or procedural change or set expectations).
  2. Identify your stakeholders - Before you start talking to others, get an idea of who is decision maker, influencer for your project and do also take different perspectives into account
  3. Understand their needs - Follow the "pain chain" and analyze the problem from different view points
  4. Speak in their language - Prepare your "sales pitch" tuned to your target group and use audience specific language! Do not talk what you need to say, talk what they need to hear!
  5. Craft the messages - Talk about benefits for your stakeholders don’t bore them with functions and features talk.
  6. Select the channel - How should you address your stakeholders? This will probably depend on your organizational hierarchy or your company culture. The most common channels are face-to-face, email or a website. To prepare e.g. a steering committee meeting, adjust your presentation or ideas first with some or all members previous to the meeting.
  7. Practice your pitch - Be specific and compelling in what you're talking about and test your message! Do not overestimate the power of words on your slides. Researches confirm that the audience remembers only 7% of written words, but 38% of your vocal speech and even 55% of your body move.
  8. Handle objections - Anticipate possible objections and think about an objections handle process. Always keep in mind that objections demonstrate interest in what you say.
  9. Invite a dialogue - No one wants to be talked at, especially not your management, so evoke participation, listen to proposals and objections and be ready to adopt and reconsider.
  10. Create a plan - Avoid management by chaos! Create a clear set of objectives, plan your resource coordination, set milestones for your project and communicate it to your stakeholders.

Finally, the success of communication is measured in the changed behavior of the recipient.

Tags: Enterprise Architecture EA