What can Enterprise Architects Learn from Steve Jobs?

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I was at the Architecture Summit this weekend and we spun up a roundtable topic based on Steve Jobs. I quickly stepped back and reflected more precisely on the topic of what we as Enterprise Architects can learn from Steve Jobs.

I think the learnings are less about his actions or lack there of, but more to his core in his principles and values. Like many CIO’s their demeanor and tenacity isn’t for the faint of heart.

Below are the key principles that I think EA’s can learn from Steve Jobs:

  1. Focus and clarity – Know your business and focus on what is important. Job’s established rules that there will be a core focus and spent hours declining projects because they didn’t align to the priority areas. It’s so easy for EA’s to be randomized by things that frankly don’t matter to the business of EA. In an EA program or an engagement/project determine what architecture models, descriptions or even meetings align to your business goals and objectives.
  2. Purposefulness – Uniquely, Jobs was able to get to the root of “why” or the purpose behind all things he did. Likewise with EA we must make sure we always get to the root of our purpose and how to fulfill it.
  3. Simplicity – We all know that Apple products are simple but this is a real art to take something complex and make it really intuitive and easy to use. I always fall back to, "Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler" by Albert Einstein.
  4. Results Driven – By combining the focus, clarity and purposefulness with performance based and intuitiveness Jobs really stood out. EA’s could leverage this principle to go back and make sure they are producing results and not just pontificating.
  5. Discipline – Jobs and the overall apple team is known for their extreme rigor and discipline. This shows in their products as the quality is extremely high. The overall EA industry is maturity but there are still well adopted practices that we as EA’s could be more rigorous in our delivery. This comes down to predictable and repeatable results that generates high business value. Discipline + the others we build on make a powerful combination as it ensure we create things of high quality and they matter.
  6. Big Bets – Go big or go home! This principle is all about knowing what to bet big on and executing on it without backing down. Obviously we don’t pull this card often but when we need to we should. This is especially true when we see how disruptive technologies will enable our business.
  7. No Compromise – When it came to quality and meeting the vision there was no compromise. EA’s could use this principle to protect the business such as regulatory compliance, non-functional and functional requirements. This one needs careful balance though, EA’s don’t want to be viewed as stonewalling the organization either. However, you could also argue that if our business model of EA was perfected and we had better traceability to what the business wants we could execute on this principle more?
  8. Emotional Attachment – Jobs had it with his products we as EA’s have it with the designs we create and the relationships we build. For me this really boils down to emotional intelligence. It’s all about having an emotional connection with the businesses we serve.

 

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