Sunday, February 8, 2009

What does it take to be good at Strategy and Architecture

What is required for you to be good at something e.g. strategy and architecture.

I think there are at least 5 things that you need:
  • aptitude - S&A requires an innate ability to see patterns, form abstractions or generalised cases (organise, classify), to think laterally. Aptitude can't be easily taught. In most arts a key thing is the ability to accurately perceive.
  • experience - S&A both rely to some extent on a mix of wisdom and common sense. Common sense seems to be quite uncommon, but as one makes mistakes - if one pays attention, one can acquire it. Perhaps the understanding below could be considered to be covered under the heading of experience - but I mean experience in a far broader sense. It involves learning a multiplicity of disciplines and life skills. Experience is also something that can't easily be taught (despite what MBAs may suggest) - some things needs to be experienced. It is what help tell you that something doesn't feel right even if you can't articulate for the time being why.
  • understanding the environment and technologies - S&A in any field needs to be cognisant of the realities of what can be achieved in the environment in question using the materials available. This can be learned. It may take a while to internalise it depending on the domain but if you don't know you can usually rely on the expert advice.
  • understanding the tools and techniques - S&A needs to be done using tools, methods and techniques actually orient at the type of S&A you wish to do (e.g. those suited to collecting information from the audience and communicating to the audience). This can be learned - and it doesn't usually take the long.
  • willingness to keep learning and keep thinking - to reinvent, to reconceive, to question.
My current focus is enterprise strategy and architecture. But my original focus was building architecture and design. Anyone who has seen good architecture knows the architect needed:
  • aptitude - and I would content it is clear to anyone in any school of art or architecture that some people have talent and others don't.
  • experience - I was always told and now believe that architects don't reach maturity until they are at least 40.
  • understanding the environment and technologies - sadly some architects keep forgetting the need for this (and left to their own devices produce building that leak, fall down, can't be built, or excessively expensive etc.).
  • understanding the tools and techniques - architects have developed over hundreds of years sets of artefacts to the communication they require (plans, elevations, sections, details, specifications etc.). More recently over a few decades they have translated these techniques into CAD and come up with new ways to communicate (animations, simulators of various kinds etc.)
  • willingness to keep learning and keep thinking - few can imagine a successful architect that doesn't have this trait. Nor a good town planner that lacks it.

No comments:

Post a Comment