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Enterprise Architecture: Improving IT communication

by James McGovern  |  April 11, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

As a newly minted analyst, I have come to appreciate how tolerant I have become to horrific writing. If you have ever had the privilege of working for multiple Fortune 100 enterprises, you would understand that documentation is often done by employees who were never trained to write and that Enterprise Architects consume much of the most poorly written information ever conceived.

Every Enterprise Architect worth his or her salt understands the importance of good communication, yet the vast majority of practitioners have done little if any to improve their own writing skills. We have many inefficient organizational processes that tolerate bad writing. Have you ever read the documentation written by an offshore developer whose native language is not English? The funny thing is that offshore gets most of the complaints in this regard but many onshore employees are guilty of a crime more heinous in the sense that they often can do better but choose not to.

How many times have we seen organizations build so-called “knowledge transfer” processes on top of this weak foundation? Scholars have various accepted formulas for determining the grade reading level of any piece of writing based on how complex it is, what kind of vocabulary uses it, etc. The most common scale is the Flesch-Kincaid index. I have two children (both boys) in school. Teachers provide updates to my wife and I on their progress using this standard. I wonder somehow ignore this same thinking as parents in the work environment?

Enterprise Architects love standards! We have all sorts of standards. Need a “standard” for where to place content on “sharepoint”? Check! Need a for what is considered acceptable documentation to aid in comprehension? Missing in Action.

I ran across an article  that shares this disturbing graph:

Reading Level graph

The reason for me sharing this is to outline a belief I am starting to embrace. In order to deliver better business outcomes, Enterprise Architects must be front-and-center in both eliminating complexity with the IT ecosystem, but also complexity in how IT communicates at large…

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James McGovern
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
28 years IT Industry

James McGovern is a Research Director responsible for conducting research in the Enterprise Architecture and Technology Innovation areas. James is specifically focused on how organizations can use business-outcome-driven EA to respond to disruptive trends and leverage technology to deliver successful business outcomes. Read Full Bio

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