Solve a problem for your boss

EBA can be a wide field and it often leads to questions like this “OK, I’m sold. I believe that EBA can add value. So, how do I get started?”

If you search around the web enough you will get lots of useful advice. Much of it good (“start small”), much of it well meaning (“get executive buy in”) and some of it downright wrong (“get some tooling”). Here’s my 3-step plan for getting EBA started.

  1. Find out which problems your boss is trying to solve
  2. Use EBA technique(s) to solve one of them
  3. Don’t tell them you used EBA to do it

Step 1 meets the fundamental criteria of why this blog exists. Unless you are adding real world value, unless you are solving real world problems you’re in the “pure EBA” world not in the “applied EBA” world.

Step 2 accords with the good advice to start small. It also gives you a pointer as to which techniques and competencies you should look to be developing. If it’s a lack of understanding of strategy then use the strategy mapping tools. If it’s a problem with aligning change to strategy, then have a look at capability or value stream mapping. If it’s a problem with co-ordinating change programs then use the road mapping tools. If it’s a problem with process standardisation then look at logical to physical process mapping.

It also answers the “get executive buy in” advice. Sure, this is well meaning advice but how do you get executive buy in? I’ll tell you. Results. In the main, CXO’s aren’t interested in how you did what you did – unless there are ethical issues involved. They are interested in what you did. And if what you did was to solve a problem for them then you have just come to their attention as someone useful.

Step 3 is where I risk getting controversial. I can hear it now… “What’s the point of our tirelessly promoting EBA as a value added discipline if you’re going to go around telling people to hide it’s light under a bushel?”

To a certain extent I can hear that point of view and, yes, I own up, I was trolling a bit. If I was being strictly honest I would have said “Don’t tell them you used EBA to do it… yet!”. So, what’s my point? It’s this…

…if you book a meeting with your boss to present to them. And then have a 30-slide deck of power points detailing your underlying, method, process and techniques before unveiling your masterstroke solution, they will likely have glazed over before slide 3. Worse… if you have tried to slip in some stuff about wider applications of this great new theory, that stuff will be tainted by the fact that you’ve already bored them. If you’ve mentioned “strategy capability matrices” or “multiple physical implementations of an underlying logical model”, you need to get back to your desk and update your linked-in profile!

I’ll say it again… they don’t care “how”… yet. They care that you solved a problem. Keep doing that and they’ll start coming to you to ask you to solve more of them. This is what you’ve been waiting for! Now you can start talking about EBA but softly, softly, catchy monkey.

Talk about the fact that your solutions are so effective because they’re based on detailed, rigorous, time-consuming analysis. Talk about the fact that you currently only have the time to solve so many problems at once. Talk about the fact that it takes a particular skill and ability set to do this kind of work. Talk about the fact that some tooling would help things, if that’s what you need.

The time to ask for what you need is when they are coming to you for what they need, not before. Sound Machiavellian? Maybe, but that’s a post for another day!

How do you start?

  1. Find out which problems your boss is trying to solve
  2. Use EBA technique(s) to solve them
  3. Don’t tell them you used EBA to do it… yet!
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About EBAnous

EBAnous works as a business architect for a FTSE-100 company in the south-east of the UK
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