Talking the right language

When should you talk about TOGAF or any other architectural framework with your business representatives? The answer is NEVER!

Have you ever had the feeling at a party or any social gathering that people starts to talk about their jobs and what they doing? I have, and it is so strange; because when the nurse talks about their job everyone is excited and interested to listen, same goes for the fireman, carpenter and taxi driver. Everyone can relate to what these people do and have a nice discussion which all can relate to.

But when it comes to you and your story is IT they all stop talking and you never get that second question. People just go back to the nurse, carpenter, doctor and continue to talk about just how important and interesting their job is…

What I just mentioned happened to me a few weeks back when I joined a fantastic initiative called Rosa Landet ( This was a group of ~10 people that started from the upper north of Sweden and bicycled down to Skåne in the very south, a ride for about 2500 km all this to collect money for the breast cancer foundation in Sweden. I joined the group for one stage between Falun and Uppsala. During the trip which lasted about 9 hours there were a lot of interesting discussions going on and most of the people had jobs like fireman, doctors, salesmen or electricians, anyway jobs that people understand what they actually do; Except me! So when we were biking and talked I was very keen on learning more about how a typical working day looks for a fireman, of course there were loads of questions and the women whom I asked answered enthusiastic so we had a really nice conversation. After about an hour we started to talk about me and of course after a while she asked what my occupation is. I answered IT and that was pretty much the end of the discussion…

Today most people love what IT can do for them but they really don’t care about how the apps and information really got there. This is a mystery for us IT-people who just can’t stop ourselves from thinking about how things are integrated and what framework is used to get the pieces in place. But for normal people this should just happen by magic. Sad for us IT-people, but true. It isn’t that strange though, look how much you care about how your car gets fixed, you don’t; isn’t it so. So why should you load details into your customer?

As an example when you leave the car at the garage. You just don’t care what tools your mechanics are using you just care about that your car is returned in better condition than it was when you left it there. If you feel that the relation with the price you paid for fixing your car and the condition the car is in now, then you probably will give the garage your trust next time your car breaks down again (because it will for sure).

This is exactly what you should do next time you meet your business colleagues! Take the opportunity to understand the business challenge and do not expose your internal challenges. You would probably prior to the meeting have safeguarded that your IT is ready to meet the new challenge and now it is time to show that your efforts are well worth the money spent because you are ready to implement what your business requires This is exactly what your car mechanic does prior to a car brand releases a new model. He prepares himself for the new stuff coming.

Like with the car engine that needs oil; TOGAF is your architectural engines lubricant which gets things going smoothly and without too much friction. Like lubrication this should not leak outside the engine because when it does then there is an indication that something is wrong. If you as a driver gets a warning signal it puts you in a state of insecure. This was probably not your intention with exposing your architectural tools but it is a natural reaction if someone don´t understand your language. Probably your business representative will try to get a second opinion from someone that seems to know what he is doing and then you are suddenly not the captain of the IT decision anymore.

For me as an architect it is always good to compare myself with other jobs that people just don’t care how it works, think about the people fixing your car. You just want it to work! And as an advice from a friend; Do not ever compare yourself with the fireman because people do not see you as the savior from the fire, they see you as the representative that make things work.

My personal lesson learned from this story is that next time I am at a party and someone asks me what I am working with, I will tell a lie. My answer will be that I am a fireman but I am soon out of business because I am doing such a good proactive job so I don’t have any fires to chase any longer. Hopefully I will get a second question and then I will find something interest to talk about. Bicycling maybe :-)

 iBiz Solutions Integration Framework gives you a helping direction in your dialogue with the business and also it directs you on how to build your integration landscape.

Posted in: •Integration  | Tagged: •Integration Framework  •Rosa Landet  •TOGAF