>Creating Win-Win and Enterprise Architecture

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We are all familiar with conflict management and day-to-day negotiations in our everyday leadership role in our organizations, and the key to successful negotiation is creating win-win situations.

In the national bestseller, Getting to Yes, by Fisher and Ury, the authors call out the importance of everyday negotiation and proposes a new type of negotiation called “principled negotiation”.


“Everyone negotiates something every day…negotiation is a basic means of getting what you want from others. It is a back-and-forth communciation designed to reach an agreement when you and the other side have some interests that are shared and others that are opposed. More and more occasions require negotiation. Conflict is a growth industry…whether in business, government, or the family, people reach most decisions through negotiation.”


There are two standard ways to negotiate that involve trading off between getting what you want and getting along with people:


Soft—“the soft negotiator wants to avoid personal conflict and so makes concessions readily in order to reach agreement. He wants an amicable resolution yet he often ends up exploited and feeling bitter.”


Hard—“the hard negotiator sees any situation as a contest of wills in which the side that takes more extreme positions and holds out londer fares better. He want to win yet he often ends up producing an equally hard response which exhausts him and his resources and harms his relationship with the other side.”


The third way to negotiate, developed by the Harvard Negotiation Project, is Principled Negotiation.


Principled Negotiation—“neither hard nor soft, but rather both hard and soft…decide issues on their merits rather than through a haggling process…you look for mutual gains wherever possible, and that where your interests conflict, you should insist that the results be based on some fair standards independent of the will of either side.”


In principled negotiation, the method is based on the following:

  1. People—participants are not friends and not adversaries, but rather problem solvers
  2. Goal—the goal is not agreement or victory, but rather a “wise outcome reached efficiently and amicably”
  3. Stance—your stance is “soft on the people, hard on the problem”
  4. Pressure—you don’t yield or apply pressure, but rather “reason and be open to reasons”
  5. Position—you don’t change your position easily or dig in, but rather you “focus on interests, not positions”
  6. Solution—the optimal solution is win-win; you develop “options for mutual gain”

In User-centric EA, there are many situations that involve negotiation, and using principled negotiation to develop win-win solutions for the participants is critical for developing wise solutions and sustaining important personal relationships.

  • Building and maintaining the EA—first of all, just getting people to participate in the process of sharing information to build and maintain an EA involves negotiation. In fact, the most frequent question from those asked to participate is “what’s in it for me?” So enterprise architects must negotiate with stakeholders to share information and participate and take ownership in the EA initiative.
  • Sound IT governance—second, IT governance, involves negotiating with program sponsors on business and technical alignment and compliance issues. Program sponsors and project managers may perceive enterprise architects as gatekeepers and your review board and submission forms or checklists as a hindrance or obstacle rather than as a true value-add, so negotiation is critical with these program/project managers to enlist their support and participation in the review, recommendation, and decision process and follow-up on relevant findings and recommendations from the governance board.
  • Robust IT planning—third, developing an IT plan involves negotiation with business and technical partners to develop vision, mission, goals, objectives, initiatives, milestones, and measures. Everyone has a stake in the plan and negotiating the plan elements and building consensus is a delicate process.

In negotiating for these important EA deliverables, it’s critical to keep in mind and balance the people and the problem. Winning the points and alienating the people is not a successful long-term strategy. Similarly, keeping your associates as friends and conceding on the issues, will not get the job done. You must develop win-win solutions that solve the issues and which participants feel are objective, fair, and equitable. Therefore, using principled negotiation, being soft on people and hard on the problem is the way to go.

>Ruminations and Enterprise Architecture

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The Wall Street Journal, 23 October 2007 states: “at work there are countless things you should and could and would have said. But the tormenting fact is, you didn’t. So hemmed in by forces such as the fragility of reputations, your dependence on a paycheck, or even just slow-footedness, you re-enact one of the countless little workplace defeats in the confines of your head.”


Ruminations—“the process of chewing over old conversations.” This is sort of like 20-20 hindsight, again and again; thinking or saying to yourself, “If only…”


How often do you replay incidents over and over again in your mind? Probably, the more devastated, hurt, or taken aback you were by an incident, the more you hit the replay button!


Apparently, the more people ruminate, the more they let things fester, the more anger builds up in them—until they “go postal” or something crazy like that..


Perhaps they are angry at those who slighted them or possibly, they are just angry at themselves—at how ineffectually they think they handled things.

Fortunately, “cognitive tasks can distract us from ourselves.” Hence, crossword puzzles, sudoku, even needlework can take our minds off our troubles. Related to this, you can actually ruminate so much that you essentially “habituate” (or bore) yourself out of it.

In any case, you cannot just say anything you want to at work, even to respond to someone else’s provocations. At work your interpersonal relationships are critical to your being able to get your job done.

In an information economy, most of our jobs are heavily dependent on having, strong interpersonal skills. As enterprise architect practitioners, this is certainly the case. Enterprise architects work with leaders, business and technical subject matter experts, and stakeholders, up, down, and across the organization as well as outside of it (to capture information, bring in best practices and trends, conduct benchmarking, and develop policies and practices to share information and build solutions to enable mission execution).


To be a good enterprise architect, you have to have great interpersonal and communication skills. Moreover, you’ve got to have a thick skin (like an elephant or better yet, like an Abrams tank!) The point is not to let people’s slights get to you, not to ruminate about things, and certainly not to get angry or frustrated. You’ve got to take it in stride and keep focused on the mission.


In a leadership class, I remember learning an important lesson: Managers usually incorrectly hire for technical skills, and then try to train people in interpersonal skills. Instead, the experts contend, managers should hire for interpersonal skills (the harder and more important) and train for technical skills.