Where content meets behavior for architects


Soft skillsIn my last post, I talked about the shift made by CESCE, a globally operating credit risk insurance company based in Spain. I also mentioned CESCE’s six considerations for enterprise architects: Be proactive, Cooperate, Go beyond frameworks, Be Agile, Sell, and Show Audacity.

Earlier this month, I received an invitation to present at the Enterprise Architecture Management User Group in Leipzig, on the topic ‘Softskills and careermodels for Enterprise Architects.’ Since then, I’ve had conversations with architects responsible in various organizations, both commercial and government. And in all these conversations, the topic of skills and competences of the organizations architects came up. Every one of my ‘conversation partners’ appeared to be searching for ways to get their architectural team up to speed and get them to become more effective. And all of them focused on the lack of soft skills of their architects.

The interest in soft skills for architects is not new. The importance for architects of having the skills to connect with their stakeholders and to communicate effectively has been stressed by many for a long time. Though the architects that possess the right social skills are the most successful, those who did not excel in these skills could mostly get away with it until recently. However, times have changed.

The rapid succession of technological and societal innovations has changed the rules of the game. The need for a ‘two speed architecture’ is becoming undeniable. Well-established architectural principles are suddenly being challenged. For architects, this means that many of their hard-won certainties are falling away. To make things worse, the rise of Agile makes it necessary for architects to move away from designing blueprints toward real-time problem-solving. This requires thinking on their feet and putting more trust in their own intuition. It has suddenly become an impossibility for architects to purely rely on their knowledge and ‘simply’ produce architectural artefacts by themselves.

Until recently, architects could rely on their knowledge for the most part (80% of the times). Nowadays, their knowledge counts for maybe only 20%, with 80% of their impact depending on their agility in applying this knowledge and their ability to connect with their stakeholders.

Something has to be done. That is why I am very excited about our own connection with the personal coaches of ‘The Human Effect.’ Together, we are working out how to address both content and behavior in a coaching program that is based on the interplay between content and behavior. Not one, nor the other, but both.


Marlies van Steenbergen


Marlies van Steenbergen started her career with Sogeti Netherlands in the role of service manager enterprise architecture in 2000. After working as a consultant for a few years, she became Principal Consultant Enterprise Architecture in 2004. In this role, she is responsible for stimulating and guaranteeing the development of the architectural competence of Sogeti Netherlands. Since 2012 she is the main proponent of enterprise architecture and DYA within Sogeti Netherlands.

More on Marlies van Steenbergen.

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