When training for this year’s London Marathon, I got thinking about some of the connections to building Enterprise Architecture capability:
A lesson from my first marathon
This will be my second marathon and it’s fair to say I learned some lessons from my well-meaning and enthusiastic, but ultimately naïve, assault (I finished but fell way short of what I’d hoped for and there were tears on the way – shh, don’t tell anyone) on such a significant under-taking.
As I started thinking about marathon number two I realised that, to achieve my potential, I had to review my past effort with brutal honesty to identify errors, then look forward to what my goals are for this marathon, and assess my current capability and inputs/outputs (training, diet, coaching, toos, sponsors, stakeholder concerns) in order to create a proper roadmap to my objectives.
My “on-a-page” roadmap has become my navigational tool through which I keep focused on the goal, reach transition milestones, assess capability and use as a talk-to document for all who are interested and, let’s face it, bore most of those who aren’t.
Get key stakeholders onside
Running a marathon is full-on and has a big – hopefully positive – impact on those around you. Not just on the day of the event itself, but also in the training building up to it. Getting key stakeholders on-side is vital to the success of the endeavour and whilst, for a Head of EA, this should certainly include someone from the C-Suite, on a personal level I can assure you it is my wife!
Communicating the vision, value and roadmap in a unified way to make buy-in as clear and easy as possible is vital and in my case my key stakeholders are most concerned with a 5.30am training regime, a Lycra fetish, strange food nutritional products appearing (“is that legal?”, “yes love, it’s just protein powder”) and an increasingly obsessive conversation subject matter. It still surprises me that not many people care about my Vo2 Max or my latest tempo run, just as business stakeholders have no interest in an EA modelling suite or a set of beautifully crafted EA principles. Bottom line – they need to know that all this investment is going to lead to a great outcome and in both cases a well thought out stakeholder communication plan is vital to take people with you on the journey!
Be resilient, persistent and keep asking for help
Everyone says it, but ‘the wall’ is real especially if you haven’t put in place the proper planning and support, and it’s painful – trust me – I speak from experience. It’s easy to want to give up when you hit turbulence and collapse in a sweaty, self-pitying heap (I’m still talking about a marathon) but nothing worthwhile was ever achieved without hard effort and painful moments. This is also where an excellent physio comes in as the reality is that things will go wrong and tri-age support is required to get back on the road. I balked at the price of my new physio but in three months of training I’ve lost only five days of running compared to four weeks under my old physio. He gets me back on track not just with a fix, but strategies for avoiding the next injury.
Back to the roadmap
So, seven weeks out from the London Marathon and things are going well – I’ve built new capability and achieved some notable milestones (thanks, Garmin) but now my roadmap has me targeting a new transition phase with a step up in both distance and pace, so let’s see how I go. I am picking up some stakeholder flack though…..