A great business architect has knowledge, experience, and competencies that go beyond the business architecture. This includes an understanding of how business, technology, and systems work; a command of complementary disciplines, frameworks and techniques; and unique and rigorous thought processes.
Here are ten non-business architecture disciplines, techniques, and that can help you to become an even better business architect1. Happy exploring!
- Human-Centered Design – This is arguably one of the most important topics because it helps us to marry the human side and empathy with architecture. Nielsen Norman Group has a great set of resources, but there are many excellent resources and thinkers in this space, so keep on exploring.
- Design Thinking – This methodology for creative problem solving applies human-centered techniques to solve problems in a creative and innovative way. Learn it and try it. Check out Stanford University d.school.
- Systems Thinking – Systems Thinking is the process of understanding how things, regarded as systems, influence one another within a whole (context). This provides a critical foundation for business architecture. Take a deep dive into Systems Innovation.
- Organization Design – A critical discipline which not only pairs closely with business architecture to bring the people perspective, but also provides an important foundation of knowledge for business architects. Here’s a compilation of content on work, organization design, experience, leadership, and change from Sergio Carreda. The book Designing Dynamic Organizations: A Hands-On Guide for Leaders at All Levels is also a classic on organization design and a go-to reference.
- Organizational Change Management – The discipline of business architecture is very much focused on enabling change, and business architects are of course change agents. Check out Prosci.
- Working Backwards (Backcasting) – Learn more about this approach to innovation, based on insights from Amazon, in the book Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon and watch a brief overview in this video.
- Thinking and Mental Models – Business architects are often recognized for one of their superpowers: intellection. However, we need to continue expanding and challenging our mental abilities and mental models. Farnam Street is tops for thinking about thinking.
- Visualization – The ability to create compelling visuals and the ability to do visual thinking, graphic recording, and graphic facilitation are all competencies worth getting better at. Check out The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide: How to Use Your Listening, Thinking and Drawing Skills to Make Meaning and The Doodle Revolution.
- Storytelling – The ability to simplify complex information and connect with and influence others through story is a must-have competency. Learn how to master the art of storytelling in this 5-minute video by Raj Ramesh and learn all that you can from Nancy Duarte.
- Technology – With the intertwining of business and technology, it is critical for business architects to have solid knowledge of core technology concepts. Beyond that, if you feel like blowing your mind, read The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.
- 1. Note: In most cases just one resource is provided for the sake of simplicity to give you a starting point. However, this is by no means intended to imply that these are the only valuable resources, so keep seeking! And, a number of these resources came from our Straight Talk podcast guest stars and other members of the business architecture community, so we thank them for sharing!