by Christine Stephenson
I started doing the practicals for a dog training course last week to prepare for my eventual retirement where I can help unwanted old dogs find forever homes after some behaviour modification. Little did I expect to learn a new phrase that has nothing to do with dog training and everything to do with why I keep getting up in the morning and delaying my retirement. I am passionate about my work as an enterprise architect!
I have very rarely met architects who AREN’T passionate about the work they do. I find what motivates me is the ability to solve very complex problems in simple and easy ways, and to watch people have their ‘light bulb’ moments. I also thrive on the positive feedback when you know you have delivered something that truly helps the business move forward and someone says that was the best experience they have had in a very long time.
From first-hand experience, I know how much mental and physical effort it takes to pursue these challenges. To take on these complex problems means trying something different and perhaps new. This requires us to help people deal with the change that is going to impact them, because no one has dared to tackle this problem the way I do.
Critics are plenty and positive support and encouragement rare. Quite often I have had to adopt the ‘architecture by stealth’ approach, because I have not yet had the opportunity to build trust and credibility. As a result, I must recruit a team by promising them to be part of a great success, and ask them to blindly believe in the approach I lead them through.
Once we commence, we start impacting key stakeholders, so must hold our ground and fight to keep going, dodging the landmines being thrown in our faces every day, doing ‘please explain’ briefs, and doing just enough to win people’s trust to take just the next step, and then the next. When we get to the end, we get to look back at the incredible success and how unnecessarily difficult our organisation made it for us.
It’s at this time I look at my team, who have huge grins on their faces because they learnt something new, not just about solving the problem, but about how to influence without authority. How to convince people to come on the journey and have no fear. And then I collapse in a heap of PASSION FATIGUE! Thrilled to bits that yet again, I have been able to score a big win for enterprise architecture. Yet again, I have built up a posse of haters, because my team succeeded where they had failed multiple times. They hate the fact that the enterprise architects were the least likely team in their minds to ever succeed.
There is no time for passion fatigue, there is a queue out the door of businesses, demanding that we deliver more of the same. My biggest learning out of being passion fatigued is to make sure you take the time to celebrate your success.
Look out for your team for signs of passion fatigue as this is when they are most likely to leave you. It’s not because they don’t like the work they are doing. Everyday I remember to recognise the successes, small or big, reward the team with a drink after work or taking them out for lunch or dinner. Give them time to unwind and let their hair down. But most important of all rewards is make sure you have them lined up for the next exciting problem to solve. Remember, that is what motivates us to be great enterprise architects!
Why don’t you share with us what motivates you, and some ideas for what you have done to motivate your team to avoid passion fatigue?
Don’t forget, we also want to know the subjects that are causing you professional pain. Please email your questions to [email protected], and we’ll select one for a future advice column. The EA Practice Advisor team is here to help!