Since it appears everyone else in our little pocket of the industry is.  As ever, there are a myriad of discussions splattered far and wide over the Internet, with the mother-lode being mined on LinkedIn.

By trying to engage with these somewhat robustious debates, it’s confirmed my initial view of much heat but not a great deal of light. That’s not because the protagonists – for or against – do not make interesting and sometimes compelling arguments. It’s the fact that there’s not even a nudge towards a common ground which may disrupt the status quo.

Reading this article written by Jason Bloomberg resonated with my standpoint that we’re mistaking certification for competence. To quote directly:

  • certification has become a commonplace recruitment filter for enterprise architecture roles, and this approach weights certification (which is typically no more than a few-days-long short course) overwhelmingly and disproportionately more heavily than years of applied experience working as an enterprise architect
  • certification in enterprise architecture frameworks ignores the enormously-important complement of soft skills (the communication, leadership, collaboration, and adaptability) that are essential for success as an enterprise architect — they do this because the enterprise architecture frameworks themselves are barren of soft-skills content

There’s also another nugget in that post proposing a new framework model which is additive not subtractive.  A rather neater way of saying ‘find out what the customer wants and create a framework/method/approach/metric set for that

If we’re going to continue to focus much energy and effort into certification, then it should be on creating a shared vocabulary – and that’s not just between architects but between architects AND our customers – case studies, best practice, common mistakes, success stories and the like.

I keep coming back to my experience of Enterprise Architecture for real people with real problems. Their interests are – rightly – about what it can do, not what it is. They already have much of what they need to be successful. What EA brings is a map and a guide. Not a large, indigestible book on how to make great maps.

Of course, I’m oversimplifying this, but we have to at least agree that we’re not going to agree.  Success for EA comes in many forms, some which will be certification driven  – at least in part  – and many more that  won’t even mention it.

That desire for success has to be the primary reason we get up and go to work .  This is what will cement the value of EA in the minds of our customers. Certification and accreditation have a part to play, but it has no place on the centre of the stage.