Be a Storyteller

effective ea models

While they say that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” too often the viewer just doesn’t seem to “get it.” The picture doesn’t yield the clarity the author had hoped for. In EA, that’s usually because the picture is overloaded, obscuring the story.

Most enterprise architects are model builders by nature. We are awash in engineering diagrams, drawings, and reports loaded with detailed information. Such models are additively appealing, at least to those who think like us, so we build more. They show everything that anyone would possibly want to know. Who wouldn’t love all of that information in one place? They are complete, elegant, and perfect, to us. But therein lies the problem. Those models are usually not self-evident to everyone, particularly to executives and business leaders. The important takeaways can be lost in a flood of often highly dense and obscure detail.

Strong communicators realize that everyone doesn’t need to know everything. In fact, most consumers want just enough detail to inform a decision or action they must take. When I talk with fellow architects, I advise that they should not create that one perfect, complex, detailed model and then try to explain it to everyone around them. Instead I coach them to think about their messaging and audiences first, then sequence those messages into stories. Only then should they build models conveying just enough detail to support the story, customized to each consumer. Their audiences will appreciate the clarity, and the architect’s messages will be more clearly understood.

Speaking of messages to be heard, in this issue of A&G our contributing authors share their ideas on a broad range of topics. We hope you find their stories and examples compelling and thought provoking. As always, thanks for being an A&G reader!

George Paras
About George Paras 24 Articles
George S. Paras is editor-in-chief of A&G and an EA mentor at EAdirections. Read his blog at eadirections.com.