Describe why an architect should be involved in this skill at a corporate level.
The architect has the overall responsibility for delivering the vision of the project. As such it is imperative that the architect communicate clearly and in a medium that is useful and understood by the intended audience. Therefore it is incumbent on the architect to select the correct presentation medium to deliver the intended message.
Primary push back and/or challenges for architects.
Most architects are highly skilled at their specialty—infrastructure, business, etc.—but often are not skilled at communications. They usually have a vision within their head of what is to be but are challenged to explain that vision to someone so that they clearly understand the intention. Often architects will take the viewpoint that their job is to provide the vision and someone else’s job is to provide the documentation. However if the architect cannot clearly communicate\present their vision of the project how can anyone document it?
How would a stakeholder engage an architect for assistance utilizing this skill?
The stakeholder may ask the architect to prepare a presentation for a meeting to help explain the intended solution to other departments, senior executives, or outside entities. The stakeholder may understand their area of influence very well but may not be as astute when it comes to the business or industry as a whole. It is up to the architect to bring the entire picture into focus.
ICEPAC is an acronym we can use to develop interesting presentations for conference delivery an stakeholder meetings:
I – Interest
Spark interest. It seems obvious, but people won’t pay attention if they are bored. Help them understand the value, to them, of knowing the information and explain the consequences of not knowing the information. Relate the information to the audience by finding new and innovative ways to present the material, and avoid death-by-PowerPoint or bullet list oblivion.
C – Comprehension
Check for comprehension, though the softer skill of reading body language and checking for eye contact. Ask questions of people attending meetings and make sure you always spell out the three letter acronyms you use. After all, how many ways is SOA used right now? Would a lead developer and network engineer interpret SOA the same way?
E – Emphasis
Make sure and emphasize key points so the audience remembers them. A good approach to take is the same one used by trainers, tell them what you will tell them, tell, them, and then tell them what you just told them. To move information from short-term memory to long-term memory most humans need to hear something 2-3 times in 15 minutes. Additionally, stating “This is important” or pausing for a moment or two are good ways to bring attention to what you are saying.
P – Participation
Participation helps. Most people naturally want to help so if you pose a question to the audience or members of a meeting, you get them engaged and they will then have a vested interest in the outcome. Also, combine listening with doing. People remember doing things better than they remember hearing about things.
A – Accomplishment
Having you ever attended a meeting with no agenda, no clear idea of what needed to be decided or agreed upon? Feeling a sense of accomplishment is important, especially in a meeting. Make sure and set clear agendas, with goals for the meeting and outcomes you desire.
Before closing the meeting, asked if there are any other topics that need to be covered in that meeting or the next meeting, and recap the decisions that were made, sending meeting minutes highlighting any action items and setting completion dates for each.
C – Confirmation
Some points about confirmation have already been made, possibly 3 times in this lesson. When closing a meeting with stakeholders, confirm that they understand what the meeting objectives and everyone is clear on decisions made and follow-up in email.