Women in Architecture Spotlight – Linda Finley

Featured in this week’s spotlight is Linda Finley, the Founder and President of the Twin Cities Business Architecture Forum.

Finley is a seasoned and accomplished enterprise architect, especially aligned to the business architecture domain.  She leads the largest Business Architecture Community of Practice in the world, the Twin Cities Business Architecture Forum, which she founded in 2010. Having been an Architecture practitioner, builder, teacher, writer, trainer, and consultant, she also practices and leads architecture globally for Cargill, Inc.

Question: How did you get your start in the industry?

Answer: It was my destiny.

Seriously, as my career in business, finance, and then IT progressed, I found myself approaching all my roles throughout my career with an architecture frame of mind.  By the time I discovered this professional space, I had already been informally performing in the role for years bringing systems thinking, capability-led planning, frameworks and models, and strategic change leadership to every position I’ve held.

Q: What is your current responsibility and what is your typical day like?

A: In addition to leading Global Architecture for Cargill, I lead the Twin Cities Business Architecture Forum; its Board, Partners, and several thousand members.  We have hosted information sharing and networking events bi-monthly since early in 2010 and hold the popular Business Architecture Summit in December each year.  We also support the non-profit business community by managing a pro bono program to match volunteer business architects with selected charitable organizations and I manage the work of the volunteer collaborators throughout the lifecycle of our engagements.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I love approaching ambiguous, confusing, politically charged environments with frameworks and structured thinking that leads to sense-making towards successful outcomes.  Architects clarify context for understanding, create leverage, and optimize across organizations—in other words, this is the role for big-thinkers and problem-solvers and is a key competency in enlightened and productive leadership in organizations.

Q: What trends in architecture are you looking out for the rest of 2023 and 2024?

A: There is a lot of attention and discussion at the time on the “how” of Architecture. Meaning—what’s the best operating, engagement, and governance model to enable the highest value delivery for organizations. The continuous evolution of platforms, shifts to product-orientation, composable architecture concepts, and of course the intensity of geo-political and security concerns are on the minds of Architecture leaders everywhere.

Q: What is one thing we can do to support or increase the women in architecture?

A: Tackling any problem once we know about it requires us to be educated about why it’s occurring (root cause) and then addressing the roots where they are found. Raising awareness, clarifying educational and recruiting and hiring barriers, and creating coaching and mentoring programs where women and allies can lift more qualified women into the role. This is why we created WIA and the path we’re taking forward for women in architecture.