Slow Down to Speed up EA Results


Speed to market has been a factor in architecture since the
day I started as an architect. Every time I have priortized getting a solution in as fast as possible it has always come back to bite me. Funny enough, I see this behavior today. Whether
it is a strategy or a tactical initiative the customer always wants it faster
with more. EA’s are both blessed and cursed in that they are very smart and
have lots of great solutions but that is sometimes abused as being perceived as
having the magical powers of making things faster without breaking anything. EA’s
can’t defy physics. I know that’s not what anyone wants to hear but it’s the
state of affairs.

Sometimes you have to
slow down in order to truly speed up.

You might be thinking, “Mike, you have completely lost it.
That doesn’t make much sense” On the surface you are right, but the irony it is

What does this mean, exactly?

The irony here is that going far is that just done by going
fast but consistently. Speed and consistency are two separate things, and one
more often than not is indicative of success. To be successful, you have shown

So the questions then comes up to two factors: Speed to
Market vs. Speed to Value

  • Speed to
    – With speed to market the center of attention is on how fast we can
    deliver results. Often times with just speed execution can be clumsy or even reckless.
    The exact reason why this is the case is because the primary driver is speed and
    not necessarily value, quality and consistency.
  • Speed to
    – While speed is important to generating value and addressing time sensitive
    business factors, the fact remains that value is generated from predictable and
    repeatable results in order to do this speed isn’t the primary factor. What
    this results in is slowing down to ensure that value is created.

As an EA, what is most important? Some will say one versus
the other but I believe EA’s real value is to focus on the Speed to Value. We
will always have edge cases where we do the Speed to Market.  But using the 80/20 rule the real value for EA’s
is through Speed to Value.

To put this into context, let’s use a runner analogy. What
determines your value? Winning a race does. But to do that there is a discipline
that needs to happen. Courtesy of (,
here are main factors to running faster:

  • increasing stride length
  • increasing stride frequency
  • improving lactacte threshold and VO2 max
  • being able to spend more time running at your fastest possible speed

Bolded are the key words that highlight a method to
achieving results. There is actually a lot of science behind being the fastest.
What this tells us is that you don’t win a marathon without a method to
achieving results. This is through a repeatable and predictable method.

So let’s bring it back home to our daily lives as Enterprise
Architects.  EA’s can deal with an
amazing amount of complexity on a daily basis. To come up with any strategy or
solution, we need to properly understand that complexity and predict the risk
of what a change would do to that complexity.

When you introduce speed into the mix with complexity and
risk it can be a dicey situation.

When we don't slow down, we run the risk of spending time (and
funds) doing the following:

  • May not get the support needed by alienating  a member of the team by due to your pace and
    the pace of the member being different
  • Go so fast we don’t acquire or gloss over the information
    needed to make an informed decision
  • Run the risk of reacting to symptoms of the
    problem and not the actual problem


So instead of focusing on speed, focus on:

  • A method to ensuring predicable results
  • Continuous learning through exploration of ideas
    and research
  • Collaboration with other smart people whether
    they be EA’s or not
  • Common way of leveraging the information
  • Scale your work by taking very specific problems
    and creating generic patterns for reuse and acceleration of future decisions

 So be a change agent in your company and highlight why speed
isn’t the primary driver behind value!


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