How to Engage with C-level Executives So That They Take Note

May 13, 2022
Written by
Jeeps Rekhi
Jeeps Rekhi
Joe Ewing
Joe Ewing

How to Engage with C-level Executives So That They Take Note

We feel comfortable collaborating with our peers and other technology professionals because this has always been part of the traditional role of an Enterprise Architect. Today, our roles have changed. The digital age demands a new approach in that we need to communicate with a growing network of collaborators.

Enterprise Architecture has become a strategic capability to address an organization’s transformation challenges in a rapidly evolving environment. We’re no longer viewed as ‘nice to have’ or ‘academics’. We’re regarded as ‘agile’, and ‘strategic’.

Download – The Modern Architect: How to Facilitate Enterprise-wide Collaboration

We can play a crucial role in shaping the enterprise’s strategic direction. Business executives look at us to contribute to business strategy and execution. We can create connected models across all architecture disciplines, which can be analyzed from multiple angles to get a full line of sight across silos. Our architectural skills and expertise will undoubtedly play a key role in contributing to our organizations’ strategic success. However, to empower ourselves to participate in boardroom discussions, we need to change how we do Enterprise Architecture and engage with stakeholders.

“35% of the C-level executives and board members in enterprises consume Enterprise Architecture content monthly or regularly, according to The State of the Enterprise Architecture Report 2022.” 

Network to the top: cast your net wider

To give business executives a full line of sight of the entire organization, we have to extend our reach beyond IT to the rest of the organization to involve an expanded set of stakeholders from a far larger cross-section of the enterprise. Collaboration within our teams will no longer be sufficient. We need to understand and determine requirements from many different sub-cultures within the enterprise such as finance, marketing, HR, all the way to the C-level.

Caption: As architects we need to extend our reach of IT across the organization

Go no-tech: speak to execs directly

C-level executives don’t understand technical jargon. To ensure that we communicate with them so that they listen, we need to provide an answer or insight into a business challenge that is relevant to them. If not, it won’t get noticed nor acted upon. We need to become storytellers and create ways to engage business executives and challenge their thinking. We need to create material that triggers a discussion.

Tailor architectural models for the C-level

We need to make it easy for business executives to understand our architectural models. C-level and business leaders are typically very busy and need to form an opinion quickly. Creating a ‘Capability Map’ is generally our first port of call because it shows how IT is aligned to the business strategy and aims to support strategic decisions. A Capability Map analyzes an organization holistically from a business perspective. Give your Capability Model the necessary visual appeal to clearly show its value. Read more about how to do this in our blog series: Design Principles for Business Capability Maps (Part 1)

Promote the value of your architectural models

Simply producing insights by itself is not enough. We need to shout from the rooftops about where the value lies. Remember that the clearer your message is (what you solve), the easier it becomes to promote it. We need to become salespeople for the work we’re doing.

As engineers, we’re often trained and highly skilled at fulfilling analytical tasks. But our job roles now include selling ourselves and our approaches, which is something we’re often not comfortable with. This hinders our ability to become successful. We’ll need to change our mindsets and treat our enterprise architecture practices like any other product or service to customers, with formal consideration of the value delivered and with a view on addressing consumers’ needs. We have to focus on learning from feedback and creating materials that are readily understood across our organization – not just within our teams. In short, we need to raise our game on collaboration.

If you need help in becoming more strategic in your role and you’d like to know how you can use Bizzdesign Horizzon to achieve this, contact us.