Mentors are all over – How Chief Architects use them effectively?

To become a successful chief architect or chief IT strategist, a person must have multiple technical skills and exemplary soft skills and required to demonstrate multi talent to the organization. The competency required for chief architects or chief IT strategist are generously available in the internet and from the private consulting firms like Gartner, Forrester, executive board, etc.

The real question is, how a chief architect will grow further in an organization. What are the general career progression for a chief architect in an organization. What is a general perception of chief architect and how that perception helps or hurts the chief architect to grow further.

There is always an exception in any scenario analysis and study. However, the majority of the population tend to fit in the bell curve and the discussion is focused on the population who fits in the bell curve.

What Chief Architects do in a nutshell:
Lead a small team to assist the executive and senior management to run an IT organization successfully and align the daily activities of the IT organization to the business and IT strategy.

Career Progression for a Chief Architect:
Chief architects are management consultants who has lots of practical IT experience and holistic (bottom line impact and IT/Business strategy) understanding of the organization. A logical step for a successful chief architect is to become the middle level executive manager.

General Perception of a Chief Architect:

  • Jack of all trades and a master of none
  • Deliver any complex projects but not quite ready for next level
  • Technical and detail oriented but require molding for next level
  • Visionary but need to be political savvy

How a chief architect changes the perception to move forward in the career progression:

In reality, perception is the reality. To make the reality work for you, the bad perception (ie. not aligned to what is required for next level)should be changed. If it is strategized appropriately and adequately, changing the bad perception is also the reality. Formulating a strategy should be natural to a chief architect!!

What is perception?

It is an image created by the mental models of a person about a person (in this context. It could be a thing too). Each person builds a mental model about a person based on interaction, discussion, knowledge about subject’s depth, understanding, correlating the relevance of various mutually exclusive events, trust index, openness, value proposition and lot more data points. Once the mental models are built by a person about a person, it is going to take time to change it. The inputs to build a model about a person depends on the personality of mental modeler. If the mental model building process of a person is alike with the person whose inputs are received to build the model about them, then, in general, we call those two people have natural chemistry. In that case, variance between perception of the person and real potential of the person is minimum. However, if the mental model building process of a person is different from the person whose inputs are received to build the model about them, then, the variance between perception of the person and real potential of the person is significant. Conceptually that will work in favor, in some cases. ie. A person does not have a real potential but perceived to be a potential.

It sounds like a science but it is an art than a science.

Steps to change the bad perception:

  1. Understand what is the general perception about you with the decision makers?
  2. Weigh the perceptions and figure out the perceptions which are going to work against you?
  3. Understand the mental model building process of the decision makers and the inputs taken to conclude the model
  4. Explore and exploit opportunities to provide inputs to the decision maker to change existing mental model.

It sounds simple as long as some one provides the data for each steps. It can not be found in internet (google) but can be found through social net.

The above are abstract steps and can be personalized for your organization by connecting it from your executive mentors.

Where are the executive advisory mentors?

They are all over. How many times you were with an executive in an elevator and just said “Hi, How are you doing it today? What a nice weather?” How many times you stood next to an executive in a cafeteria line to get a salad, but said “Hello”. How many times you passed a minority group organization sponsored executive panel discussion? How many times when an executive asked you how are you doing? and you just said “good”.

Always, be ready for a 30 seconds elevator talk which will open a channel for 30 min discussion to discuss one or multiple steps to read and change the bad perception of you in the organization decision makers.

This blog is a summarization of what I heard in one of the executive panel discussion on career growth and its challenges, and generalization of that to a Chief Architect or Chief IT strategy person. I thank all the members of panel and I wish, I will speak like them one day. Why they were able to speak so clearly about those vague topics? Is it because they are so matured? is it because they have clarity in their thoughts? hmm.. that deserves a separate blog..

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