>The Window and the Mirror and Enterprise Architecture


I came across some interesting leadership lessons that can be helpful to enterprise architect leaders in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.

At the most basic level, Collins says that a “level 5” executive or great leader is a “paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” “Level 5 leaders channel their ego away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company…their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.”

Furthermore, level 5 great leaders differ from good leaders in terms of “the window and the mirror.”
  • Great leaders—“look out the window to attribute success to factors outside themselves, [and] when things go poorly, they look in the mirror and blame themselves.”
  • Good (non-great) leaders—“look in the mirror to take credit for success, but out the window to assign blame for disappointing results.”

Interestingly enough, many leaders attributed their company’s success to “good luck” and failures to “bad luck”. Collins writes: “Luck. What an odd factor to talk about. Yet, the good-to-great executives talked a lot about luck in our interviews. This doesn’t sound like Harvard or Yale MBAs talking does it?

Collins comments on this bizarre and repeated reference to luck and states: “We were at first puzzled by this emphasis on good luck. After all, we found no evidence that the good-to-great companies were blessed with more good luck than the comparison companies.”

What puzzles me is not only the lack of attribution for company success to global factors, general market conditions, competitive advantage, talented leadership, great architecture, astute planning, sound governance, great products/services, creative marketing, or amazing employees, but also that there is no mention or recognition in the study of good-to-great leaders in the benevolence from the Almighty G-d, and no apparent gratitude shown for their companies’ success. Instead, it’s all about their personal brilliance or general good luck.

Where is G-d in the leaders’ calculus for business success?

It seems that the same good-to-great leaders that “look out the window to attribute success to factors outside themselves,” also are looking down at superstitious or “Vegas-style” factors of luck, rather than looking out the window and up to the heavens from where, traditionally speaking, divine will emanates.

Perhaps, there should be a level 6 leader (after the level 5 great leader) that is “truly great” and this is the leader that not only has personal humility and professional will, but also belief in a power much higher than themselves that supersedes “good luck.”

>Good to Great and Enterprise Architecture


What makes a good organization become great in terms of technology?

In the book, Good to Great by Jim Collins, the author describes a five year study conducted in organizational greatness and what makes a good enterprise become great. Here are some finding in terms of achieving technology success:
  • Align technology with your mission—the key question that drives the enterprise’s technology is whether it fits directly with “what you are deeply passionate about…what you can be the best in the world at…[and] what drives your economic engine.”Through the User-centric EA target architecture, transition plan, and IT governance, EA moderates new investments in IT so they align with mission requirements and priorities.
  • Technology enables mission execution—“Good-to-great companies used technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it…a company can’t remain a laggard and hope to be great, but technology by itself is never a primary cause of either of greatness or decline.” User-centric EA synthesizes business and technology information to enhance decision-making. EA ensures that the organization’s technology direction and investments enable mission.
  • Culture of discipline—Good-to-great companies have disciplined thought and action. They “respond with thoughtfulness and creativity, driven by a compulsion to turn unrealized potential into results; mediocre companies react and lurch, motivated by fear of being left behind.” User-centric EA is a structured approach to managing and integrating business and technology. EA ensures that the organization follows an adaptable plan and does not get lurched around by the changing market, competition, or technology tides.
  • Change incrementally—“‘crawl, walk, run’ can be a very effective approach, even during times of rapid and radical technological change.” User-centric EA develops the target and transition plan for the organization, which ensures an approach of incremental change. New IT investments and business process improvements are done in a phased approach, rather than trying to “eat the elephant in one bite.”

In short, User-centric EA is a perfect fit with the conclusions of Jim Collins research into good-to-great companies.